About Business Strategy

Been doing a bit of research and readings on the topic, to prepare some improvements on the way the company takes strategic decisions.

I’ve been listening the audio version of the book “Playing to Win” and found also this short article that captures the essence of what normally happens, not only in organizations, but also at a personal level, I would say.

It’s the difference between Playin to Win and Playing Not to Lose.

Playing Not to Lose

If you are playing to “not lose:

  • you’re cautious. Probably overly-cautious.
  • You want to avoid mistakes, so you hold back.
  • Instead of doing what you know you need to do, you wait to react.
  • Instead of using all of your power to tilt things in your direction, you wait.
  • You don’t make the call to your dream client because they said they needed time to think things over.
  • You avoid talking about your price because you worry that your prospect will say it’s too high.
  • You don’t act because you are fearful that anything you do will put yourdeal at risk.

Playing to Win

If you are playing to win:

  • you do whatever is necessary to move things forward.
  • You aggressively try to put points on the board.
  • You’re not reckless, but you’re certainly not passive.

When youplay to win:

  • you make the call that you fear.
  • You have the difficult conversation.
  • You deal with the tricky issues that may put your outcomes at risk if things go south on you.

Is Manufacturing still a big driving force on the final product decisions?

This week I’ve been reflecting on this topic, as my brother shared with me an interesting podcast (Asymcar – The View From Tokyo with Bertel Schmitt) on the topic of manufacturing in the Auto industry, and how car plants have a big role on influencing the final product the clients get to have in their hands.

Another interesting article on HBR touches the topic of Innovation coming out of China and how it will disrupt incumbents in high end industries because China is a manufacturing powerhouse, namely in the Shenzhen region with electronics plants, and Innovation gains a lot from being there, next to the plants.

For better or for worse, manufacturing still has and will continue to have a huge influence on Product decisions for the sheer reason that, changing manufacturing plants, assembly lines and processes is expensive, time consuming and difficult from a logistics point of view. Let’s say that manufacturing in the Auto industry is like steering a huge container ship, takes long time to stop or to change course. Has his own inertia.

Of course this varies from industry to industry, but there’s no doubt that the Auto industry where the costs of product development and manufacturing are very high, and cost reduction is done mostly through technology sharing, platform sharing, via gaining market access and market share is a very good example for all other industries to learn through this amplified effect of the automakers.

 

 

 

UX research: The future of good business

Something very dear to me, as I saw in my past experiences, that everytime you have the chance to perform some User Research, you bring home loads of new insights that can be translated into new requirements for product development.

“When user research is done well — i.e. thoroughly, and right at the beginning of the design process — the business impact is huge. It essentially means the difference between getting it right from the start or having to go back and fix your mistakes when you realise that, actually, the product you’ve designed doesn’t resonate with your audience.”

Read more here: The Rise of the UX Researcher

Someone is redesigning the Design Thinking process

So What? right?

Well, make a search on Google for “UCD process” or “Design Thinking process” and many different diagrams will show up. This means that for someone new in the field, it’s almost impossible to choose one, or, you hear people going on pointless discussions about which one is best.

They all look different, but the fact is that they are all just covering the same principles:

  • know your real problem through discovery, research, empathy
  • make your hypothesis visible via some sort of prototype
  • Test that prototype
  • Implement your idea or continue to iterate

I’m sure I’m missing some stuff on my description above, but for the sake of simplifying this post, let’s say it’s OK. These diagrams also depict a process that is more or less linear. This is not true. Real world work is way more complex than that. Real world work is not linear, is full of complexity.

Enjoy your reading here:

Read more authors here:

What do you look for in a Senior UX Designer?

I had a chat the other day about this topic, and that lead me to write down a few ideas I have about this topic. What to look for on a Senior UX Designer?… here’s a few things that pop up immediately:

  • Systems Thinking – understanding the how and why things work one way in society, organizations or technology is paramount to influence change on the right people at the right time
  • Change Management – Launching a new awesome app is just not enough if that’s not accompanied by proper communication and engaging strategies
  • Performing User Research and being a great observer, identifying patterns of behavior out of data and human observation.
  • Be able to establish analogies across different industries and apply best practices. “What have others figure out, that we haven’t?”
  • Practice evidence lead Design. Don’t follow assumptions, but instead validate them and change ideas/believes quickly about what he/she thinks is the best solution.
  • Visual Design or Art Direction, because in the end of the day the touchpoints of a system are mostly a visual interface.
  • Communication skills because presenting solutions to a problem must be compelling and simple to everyone to understand. While asking the right questions, to go deep into the origin of problems.

Quantitative VS Qualitative Data

…many companies are turning to customer research that is powered by big data and analytics. Although that approach can provide astonishingly detailed pictures of some aspects of their markets, the pictures are far from complete and are often misleading. It may be possible to predict a customer’s next mouse click or purchase, but no amount of quantitative data can tell youwhy she made that click or purchase. Without that insight, companies cannot close the complexity gap.

http://hbr.org/2014/03/an-anthropologist-walks-into-a-bar/ar/1

Design Lessons from unexpected sources

Stumbling on thought provoking content on the internet puts me a smile on my face, like someone said it’s like noise canceling headphones for the web.

I found Shane Parrish’s blog through this post: The Relationship Between Design and Planning. Here he makes an interesting comparison between Design and Planning based on his reads of a document from the US Army: The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

“The underlying premise is this: when participants achieve a level of understanding such that the situation no longer appears complex, they can exercise logic and intuition effectively. As a result, design focuses on framing the problem rather than developing courses of action.”

I can relate do much to this sentence, and reminds me of another quote from the guys of IDEO:

“Informing our Intuition”

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My thoughts about Google Inbox


google-inbox-gmail-logo-icon

A friend of mine told me about Google’s new app, Inbox, and since I’m a designer, he would like to hear my opinion. This is my answer to him.

First thing I have to say, is that Google made a good decision by creating a separate product, instead of forcing a new set of features to the Gmail users.

After a few days using the app on my iPhone, here’s my initial thoughts:

  • It’s a mix of email inbox, a to-do list and a calendar, and I prefer to keep all those things separated. Because they are actually different things, I prefer to deal with them separately.
  • It’s an effort to try to put some order on the daily email clutter, assuming people don’t want to see all the emails (even if they are commercial messages, brand spam, etc). From time to time I like to give a look on the latest Groupon offers.
  • Creates bundles of emails by similar content, but so far I haven’t understood what is the criteria to do this. I would stick only to “subject”.
  • The iPhone app interface displays less messages on one screen, compared to the Gmail app for the same device. I prefer to see more messages on one glance.

Do I need another layer of “interpretation” of data between me and my mail box?

The best email interface innovation in the past years was introduced with the simple and genius grouping concept of email messages introduced on Gmail:

  • “important and unread”,
  • “starred”,
  • and “everything else”

This 3 groupings displayed in the same page, are more than enough for me and that’s about as far as I would go in terms of layers of interpretation of data between the user and the emails.

It’s always a challenge to “play” with people’s perceptions built over so many years, like the email. And the email concept comes from the actual physical mail that’s still around us, and will be for many years.

On the other hand I can understand that Google as a global giant in the internet services and with great teams of designers put together, has the pressure, the budget, the people and the media coverage to put new services outside. So, in that sense, bravo Google, for trying to re-imagine the future of internet services.

For now I’ll continue with Gmail, but paying attention to further developments.

In car touch interfaces

I must say that it scares me a bit to see the latest trends in car dashboards become dominated by big touch screens. Driving a car requires a great ammount of focus from the driver, one shouldn’t be able to perform other tasks on a touch screen, (e.g. to control car features as AC, air vents, etc.)

Physical buttons, nobs and switches are still the best way to interact with a car as it allows the driver to reach to the control with just a minor glance sometimes. And I hope that in the future the luxury will be to have “analog” interfaces.

Recently I came across a study performed by The Foundation for Traffic Safety in the US, about the levels of distraction of a driver on normal tasks in a car. What caught my attention?

  • A simple task like adjusting the radio produces the double of distraction as during normal driving.
  • And using Siri interface produces the highest distraction level on this comparison.

AAA2

I would like to better clarify this last point with the authors, as Siri is a voice interface I wouldn’t expect that level of distraction.

Anyway, imagine now these tasks done on an interface like the one on Tesla Model S:

I’m surprised I haven’t seen many news on car accidents because of Tesla’s big touch screen. I never drove a Tesla, but it would be interesting to have a deeper insight on the driving experience of this car. Maybe I’m wrong.

How can this problem be solved through technology?

For car manufacturers is less expensive to put all the car controls in a touch screen than mounting all in different nobs and switches. But as this solution created challenges for the users, technology can also solve it. How?

  1. Head-up displays and virtual windscreens (like the one from Jaguar on the video below)
    • The interfaces are better integrated in the overall driving experience, as they allow the user to keep his eyes on the road more easily
  2. Well designed touch interfaces, based on user research
  3. Through automated driving technologies, allowing the driver to safely abandon the steering wheel and assuming a more super visioning position.

1. Virtual windscreens and head-up displays

The Jaguar Virtual Windscreen concept seems a carefully designed interface with a bit of “gamification” as it is inspired by car video games and in line with the sporty soul of the brand. We still need to see the final execution of this interface, but if done seamlessly on the windscreen it might be interesting.

On the other hand, the BMW head up display is a type of solution that seems more intrusive to the driving experience, compared to the Jaguar interface, but still a good help to keep the drivers eyes on the road.

2. Better Touch screen UI’s

One of the biggest issues with a touch screen like Tesla’s, is the fact that the UI (although touch) still provides small buttons in a fixed position (why would I want that if I have a 17 inch touch screen, right?), this guy here made a concept that shows the path to solve that:

3. Automated Driving

Daimler AG just presented a few months ago, is automated driving concept for trucks. Watch the video, where the driver leaves the steering wheel and is able to perform other tasks while the truck drives itself.

So in conclusion, I think that touch interfaces that simply replicate the look and feel of normal buttons and switches, is a passing trend. It’s the result of a specific area of interaction design that doesn’t have enough research done. But it seems already very obvious that interfaces will need to be much better integrated (giving the driver just the essential info or allowing to explore more features, depending on the different moments of the driving experience) with the drivers life on board a car. And ultimately with the help of automated driving technologies, it will be much safer to use any kind of interfaces.