I am in charge of the User Experience Design (UXD) presence at our big annual conference – EMC World, which starts in a week, in Vegas. I am certainly no stranger to user conferences, having attended/presented/done usability tests at 15 Lotusphere conferences and 1 SolidWorks conference. But I’ve never been in charge of the entire UXD presence before.
EMC has several different divisions, and we all get together to create one unified UXD presence at EMC world. I’m the director of one of the divisions – Advanced Software Design – and it has been the division that coordinates the UX from other divisions, so we’re continuing that this year. We have a booth on the trade show floor (aka the pavilion), and a separate usability testing session room. This is new for me – I’ve almost always only had a usability testing session room.
I’m really excited about the booth in the pavilion. In past years it’s been used mainly to get people to fill our surveys. This year, we’ll have a “comment wall” that asks about mobile use, and we’re doing persona validation – we’ll have big posters of our personas and we’ll ask people to read and react and provide additional info on how THEY work – to make our personas more “real.” Here’s a mock-up of what we think the persona exercise will look like in the booth:
I’m hoping to leverage social media to drive traffic to the booth. It seems to me that the EMC crowd is not as active in user groups as the SolidWorks customers… nor is the EMC crowd as active on twitter or Facebook… so we’ll see. When I worked for IBM, tweeting and blogging drove a lot of traffic but, I was working on products ABOUT social media and collaboration… and now I am not. So we’ll see how it goes.
A few months ago I blogged about writing performance appraisals for people that I hardly know. I felt a little uncomfortable writing these appriasals since I’d only known my staff for 3 months. But certainly, I have often been on the receiving end of such reviews myself over the years.
Luckily, my predecessor had left written drafts of the reviews. But, as luck would have it, my employer decided to change the format of the reviewes this year, so it was a little harder for me to fit the info I had into new categories. My folks did a great job at writing up self-reviews (I do admit I really developed an appreciation for people who write well and can make cogent points…).
So I wrote, I submitted, and then had to deliver all 14 reviews. Most went well, others less so. I like to be able to provide specifics – and since I’d only worked with these folks for 3 months, I was not always able to do that. So, in my one on one meetings with each person now, I’ve decided to keep detailed notes on what each person is doing and their various projects . Of course, the mere fact that I’m around this year will give me more info.
As a former teacher, I find it ironic that most companies want the performace ratings to be a bell curve. In US education over the past few years there has been a big push on “no child left behind” and “mastery for everyone” … yet these concepts do not seem to have taken hold in the workplace much .. yet… Course, we’ll see how I feel at review time next year.. assuming, of course, that *I* make it to next year
Growing up, Patriot’s Day had always been about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem about Paul Revere’s Ride. Over time, it has also been associated with a baseball game at Fenway park and the Boston Marathon.
I grew up in New York, and when I was an adult, having moved just outside of Boston, I was finally able to watch more Patriots’ Day festivities. The first year that I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation was the first year I had Patriots’ Day off from work. I arose early and followed the re-enactment of the Patriots’ march from Acton (yes, Acton – Henry left out Acton. Maybe it was too far West. Or maybe it didn’t rhyme with enough other things…) through Lexington to Concord.
It was very moving to watch this re-enactment. It brought home the fact that people DIED fighting for our freedom.
Today, On April 15, 2013, “Patriot’s Day” has been re-defined by 2 explosions near the end of the route of the Boston Marathon. As of today, Patriots’ Day will be rembered for bombings of innocent spectators and athletes. Yet, we also saw many first responders immediately re-acting to help. We’ve heard of marathon runners who kept running to the hospital to donate blood. We’ve heard of many Boston area people opening up their homes to shelter the runners who might have no other safe place to go.
So this, my friends and fellow Americans, is the NEW Patriots’ Day. A day when we want to welcome people of every nation and gender to participate in demonstrating that people together can triumph over adversity.
I like to write. I’ve never been one who suffered with writer’s block. But that’s usually when I am writing about Design, methodology, or strategy. But now I have to write appraisals for people I hardly know. I met most of them in October. It’s a little scary because I want to be fair to them all.
To their credit, they all submitted self-appraisals, and I have a write-up on each one from the former manager. I”m also glad that I asked them each to give me at least 2 names of other people who could provide input. They did, and almost every person who was asked to provide input has done so- and often with many details. Not just “She’s a good sport” kind of input. Input from these other people has really helped me gain perspective on my team, and I know that it will help me write more well-informed reviews.
I’ll admit, at first I wans’t going to ask for this additoinal input from other people because, well, because it’s just a lot of work. It’s been worth every second of the effort because I have not only simple review input, but insight into what makes some of of my team members tick – where their passions are, when they went the extra mile, from the perspective of engineering, product management and documentation.
I hope I can do my team justice in their reviews.
YAY! This Monday, I had a new hire first-line manager start – she will manage 10 of my 14 staff, the others will report to me. So that means I have only 5 direct reports (including the new manager). A big difference from managing 14 people directly!
So far, so great. It felt great to offload a bunch of simple paperwork things – like the bi-weekly timecard (online) approvals, and the writing of quarterly goals, etc. I am really looking forward to being able to focus on UX Strategy for 2013. This is also the first time I have ever managed a manager . So I am sure that I will make lots of mistakes, and probably learn a lot from “My manager”.
For most of my design career, I did not have a subject matter expert (SME) to work with when I was designing a user experience. Of course, I have limited experience – at Digital Equipment Corporatoiio FTP Software, Iris/Lotus/IBM. None of those companies had subject matter experts to help with the design. For example, when working on DEC Fortran, I didn’t have Fortran progammers hanging around to tell me how they worked. When I worked at Iris/Lotus/IBM I worked mainly on end-user software like instant messaging and email, so I didn’t need a subject matter expert.
However, in my 2 most recent jobs, there have been subject matter experts. At SolidWorks, there were “Product definition specialists” who really understood 3D CAD modeling. They reported into another department -still in engineering (I think), but not officially part of a UX Group. At EMC, in my UXD group, I have 3 “use case architects”, who are basically subject matter experts. They have been network and storage administrators. They have provisioned and diagnosed, etc.
These people are instrumental in helping the interaction desginers do their jobs – because the interaction designers (While they might have access to a test server running the various management software) do not actually manage, monitor, or run any data centers.
While I am glad to have them – I wonder if the best place to put them is in a UX group. Maybe it is. I am certainly NOT trying to get rid of them. These people help not only the interaction designers, but also Product management, marketing, and quality assurance. Is there a best place to put such SME’s so that they have the best possible influence on the development of a product? What is your experience?
When I accepted my new job, I knew that the previous director had chosen to go to Red Hat, and that the one manager who would be reporting to me planned to retire soon. Well, she retired the Friday before I started.
I told myself that it was a great opportunity to create a great new management team. I did, however, also entertain the thought that I might be crazy for taking the job and not having any kind of management continuity.
I started the job with a whole bunch of direct reports, and no other manager to give me his or her opinions on how to handle any management situation (or to approve time cards, quarterly goals, or expense reports). In my first 90 days, I spent a lot of time reviewing and approving “paperwork”….
So far, from my perspective, it has not been too bad, and I am cautiously optimistic, because we interviewed several great candidates, and on Monday, Jan. 7, I have a new first-line manager starting. We’ll see if the “no management continuity” turns out to be a blessing or a curse. Or maybe it’s won’t matter at all. When I started, I feared that the staff would be really nervous, with all this change happening. To their credit, every single person was very helpful and carried on with their work.