We’ve all met them, talked to them, tried soothing them. We’ve ducked their phone calls. I’m talking about the scared computer users. The ones who calls you up directly when they don’t know how to do something with the computer, since “you work with computers”. And you think that well, you don’t know anything about Excel formatting and Word printing just even if you work at the IT department. You just want them to try finding out things themselves and wonder why they can’t google stuff or access the online help.
As a product owner, I often have a persona matching the person who won’t try an alternative by chance or if she does and things don’t turn out as planned never remember what she did. I give her a name and when we discuss UI I ask the guys about her reaction to the functionality.
“Yes, I know that most users know how to select File—>Print, but what about Berit?”
Another persona I use is the first line support guy. The one who gets to answer these questions at the service desk over and over again. Think about the number of users who will call your first line support about a functionality and what each call costs. Not only in time spent by the service desk but also in the health of the service desk folks.
“What about David, how many extra calls do you think he will get about this and how is he going to explain this?”
If you’re annoyed by your mother calling YET another time about those columns in Word, think about the service desk getting these calls all the time. And not just from your mother but all those scared moms out there.
Just before the summer, we started working on a rather big project and as the autumn has now come, we’re really starting to work the project properly.
Since we’re geographically separated in the project, we have a big an important challenge from start. Add to this, developers working completely different systems, I felt that we need to break down some barriers. It’s not that these guys haven’t worked on the same project before, but I think we should build on the notion that were also working TOGETHER on this project.
So, yesterday evening I dragged the crew, alongside one of the most important stakeholders to my small house and we gathered around a dinner table. Everyone brought their own food, so there was minimal planning for me to do. Also, when people bring their own stuff to an event like this, they tend to hang around in the kitchen, so we can really meet.
Today we were of course a bit tired, the playing of Nintendo WII took a little bit longer than participated, but we were happy with a smile on our faces.
One of the innovative leaders on TUI Nordic explained this so simply; it’s not about sharing the private stuff; it’s about sharing the personal things. When we can become personal, we build our empathy and our togetherness, and that simple fact makes the hard stuff much easier.
And of course, the mixing of people from different department is always fruitful. This morning, one of the stakeholders realized, after a discussion we had last evening, that there was one challenge we need to address in the project.
So, don’t think you don’t have time for social gatherings and startup events; you don’t have the time to not have the time for them.
I was very pleased this week when I learnt that I’ve been included in a training program around the concept of 7 habits. I’ve heard so much about the program from previous TUI Nordic participants so I hope this will have a good impact on me, both professionally and personally.
Reading Mike Cottmeyer’s blog, I cannot help becoming even more eager to participate in the program, as he found just the reading of the book life changing. And his references to agile values are interesting in themselves. So, now I can’t wait for that book to arrive. Or does this mean that I have to give up all my bad habits?
I just read Bill Cafferty’s blog about Scratch, a MIT project for getting the young into programming. Now, my son is too young to be cranking code, but it’s interesting that their solution not only include a programming language suitable for the young, the solution include the process from inspiration, through building to sharing (get into production) on the web. I cannot help admiring the project sponsors for realizing that we need to learn our young to build stuff which are valued by others.
The web site also include remixing functionality, which in essence get the ones into refactoring and open source from start. We’ll better look out for these youngsters when they hit the market!