Product & user experience design • strategy/consulting/coaching • Senior Principal UX Designer @puppetize • Organiser @uxbelfast

An incumbent process could be a bigger threat than any rival

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Several years ago, I was given a yogurt maker as a Christmas gift.

A (nameless) relative had been quite astute, having heard me remark on at least a couple of occasions “yeah, we take yogurt on our breakfast now…” Maybe they had heard it too much. Having identified what appeared to be a need, they presented us with a shiny, new yogurt maker.

Sadly the gift went unused. The contraption remained tucked away in the corner of a cupboard until it made its way to a charity shop some months later. Not the outcome my thoughtful relative intended.

What went…


Set learning goals, test your innovation, and mitigate risk

A pipette containing pink liquid fills multiple test tubes ahead of testing
A pipette containing pink liquid fills multiple test tubes ahead of testing

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison

One of the most effective ways to kick off a new initiative is to identify how it might go wrong. Similarly, when planning research goals and methodologies, awareness of potential weaknesses can help to establish immediate learning goals.

As facilitators, UX professionals can frame questions around potential failure. At best, to help the team understand risk; at the very least to help define constraints for our own work.

The Pre-Mortem is a well-established facilitation tool for use early in a project life cycle. As…


Drill bits, illustrating Theodore Levitt’s famous quote
Drill bits, illustrating Theodore Levitt’s famous quote

Some recent reading highlighted two simple and powerful ways to boost organisational innovation. Both are proven in their own right; combined, they can offer a robust, end-to-end method for exploring the opportunity space.

I first encountered Amazon’s ‘Working Backwards’ process in this Inc.com piece last year, which I stumbled across again last week.

The Working Backwards framework articulates, through a series of exercises and artifacts, the desired outcomes for a given project or initiative. …


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Technology may change rapidly, but the fundamentals of effective communication not so much.

The role played by clarity in achieving successful results should not be a surprise. What is surprising is how often it can be overlooked.

Regardless of its nature, the success or failure of any initiative will rely to a large extent on the degree of alignment amongst those involved. The question “what are we building” can yield as many answers as there are factions, and this is true of teams from enterprises to startups.

Executive decisions are rightly expected to be followed by action. But the fear…


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June 17, 2019 by Rick Monro

One of the (arguably few) benefits that comes with having some gray hairs is the maturity to reflect on what you have learned over the years, and how you have learned it.

The early years of my career were not distinguished. I lacked direction and was not particularly interested in developing myself. I eventually woke up around eight years in. Those lost years often give me the uncomfortable feeling of playing catch-up all the time.

For the last 15+ years I’ve worked persistently at personal and professional development. I cringe now when I think…


User experience professionals are vocal about the benefits of a user–focused approach, the need to remember that users are people, and the importance of dealing in human–centred design. Rationale tends to link the outcomes of a user-centred methodology with conversions and completions, funnels and fulfilment. It is less common however that we hear of the human value of great design.

In 2007, Dr. Richard Buchanan published a seminal essay reflecting on the ability of design to play a greater role in society. In the essay, he wrote:

“Human-centered design is fundamentally an affirmation of human dignity. It is an ongoing…

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