Why Do We Need to Be Right? (Alexandria Issue #033)
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“There is an urgent need for guardrails to ensure that future design, or any kind of design pedagogy, isn’t framed by a privileged perspective, or overly focused on either the historical or the future. Design must defy the constraints of the past, while simultaneously not succumbing to a glamorized novelty of something that has yet to be created. Like history, the future is not apolitical. It can be trapped inside of a settler-colonial mindset: it can be a space to plant a flag.”
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Question: “For designers committed to staying on the IC track beyond the senior level, what are the most important skills they should learn outside of the hard craft skills?”
Answer: “The more experience you have, the more implicit authority you will have. It can be tough to understand that when you propose a silly idea over lunch when you have 5 years of experience has a very different impact than when you have 15 years of experience — someone might actually listen to you and go make it!
Really, this is a great thing, a sort of influential power you gain. It needs love, care, and maintenance though — always work on getting better, learning from your mistakes, and improving on your experience. There’s nothing more dangerous for an organization than a person with terrible ideas whom everyone admires professionally.”
“A common defense for conventional wisdom is that it has withstood the test of time. And lots of advice is timeless, or what you could describe as Lindy. Eat your vegetables, for example. But some advice is “timeful”: relevant for a specific era, but anachronistic thereafter. Accidentally adhering to “timeful” advice is outsourcing a certain part of your life strategy to recent history. But when you outsource decisions that change your life trajectory, do you want to bet the house on the wisdom of yesteryear?”
“The need to be right is rooted in our culture, feeding on natural human tendencies that power many of our societal structures. Very often, we don’t seek to be right, we seek to be “more right” compared to somebody else, whether an individual or a group of individuals.
The need to be “more right” is mostly based on fear, uncertainty, and our desire to feel connected to each other: Anxiety of abandonment, Fear of failure, and Avoiding disappointment.”
“One of the most negative things we’re taught is that you have emotion on one side and rationality and reason on the other,” Liz says. In reality, emotions can be very rational. Fear of a snake, for example, helps protect you from a venomous bite. So while it may seem beneficial to cut your emotions out of the decision-making process, they add a lot of value. If we don’t acknowledge what we’re feeling, it makes it much more likely that the emotion is going to stick its tentacles into our decision without us being aware of it,” Liz says. “And then that might bias us.”
“In Mark Hurst’s recent essay, Why I’m losing faith In UX, he explains how he sees a decline in the last 30 years of User Experience design. He calls out how Amazon Prime’s cancellation process is now 6 pages long. And how leaders of Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple have lied under oath about the harm of their products. He calls out how ” design thinking” as popularized by Stanford’s d.school has empowered Silicon Valley to exploit people. He offers that in Big Tech the meaning of UX has changed from user experience to user exploitation. There’s merit to what Hurst is saying, but he’s missing the larger picture of the animal he is grappling with…”
“According to FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, the sweetest two words in any negotiation are “that’s right.” If you are arguing with your stakeholder, you want to lead the conversation to a “that’s right”.
It is at the point that they feel heard and become ready to listen to what you have to say. They are signaling that they believe you understand their perspective. You are now on the same page. You are now ready to move the discussion forward.”
#4. Cross-cultural Applicability of User Evaluation Methods
“This research is a case study amongst Japanese, North-American, English, and Dutch users. It investigates the cultural applicability of user evaluation methods. It sheds light on how some user evaluation methods are less applicable than others are for a culturally diverse user base.”
“Most companies have an overly simplistic view of their Power Users, defining them as the most frequent users on their product. Knowing when, how, and what to build for them is tricky. Teams either over-optimize for them or neglect them, ultimately killing their products: this is The Power User Trap.
Product leaders end up in this trap because Power Users aren’t necessarily the most frequent users of your product, but rather those that are outliers in influence and behavior within your product ecosystem. Having a more clear definition of who Power Users are, what specific impact they have on your ecosystem, and how they change over time is what lets you avoid The Power User Trap.”
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