Friday, February 29, 2008

Stephen anderson tells todd about implementing visionary ideas

Stephen Anderson on implimenting visionary ideas ...

"Stephen P. Anderson, formerly Principal User Experience Architect for Sabre and currently Vice President of Design at Viewzi, will be speaking at MX San Francisco on how to get visionary ideas made into realities with George Lucas’ work on Star Wars as an example. Todd Wilkens had a conversation over e-mail about changing organizational culture, managing design teams, and doing things that have never been done before.

Todd Wilkens [TW]: Well, Stephen, even though your talk is all about visionary ideas, let’s get the ball rolling with a practical question: What got you so interested in how visionary ideas get pushed through an organization? Why and how has this been relevant to you? What made this an itch you needed to scratch?

Stephen Anderson [SA]: As a consultant, you see a lot of really great ideas that, for whatever reason, never get implemented. Or when they do, there is little resemblance between what actually gets produced and the original concepts. In 2006, I moved from the world of consulting to become a UX director at a large, enterprise company. Needless to say, it was a real eye-opener. I think I went in with a rather naive faith in the power of prototypes and ‘leading with an inspiring product vision’. While I still value this approach, I quickly learned that there is much more to pushing visionary ideas through an organization.

For starters, if you want to bring a great product/service experience to market, you have to first change the company culture. This is basic — and critical. So many other forces are at play inside large organizations — competition, politics, procedure, history. It’s about much more than creating business value. In fact, the biggest shock for me was discovering how internal business units compete with each other in ways that hurt the larger organization.

Whether it’s UI design or a better business model, I think it’s fair to say that most people drawn to Design or UX are fairly idealistic, and see things as they should be. So, finding like-minded individuals in similar, frustrating positions, was an easy task. We all love to commiserate. And we’re all facing basically the same problems. I began taking notes on things that are working — where individuals or groups have been able to successfully push through change. The funny thing is, these aren’t just business problems. These are human problems. And they exist wherever you have a large number of people and enough history to create a ‘system’. Hollywood, Wall Street, Education. In different contexts, we re-create the same types of human problems.

So, my interest in how visionary ideas get pushed through an organization started the same way everything begins, with frustration of course!

Aside from everything I just described, I’d add that a part of me has, for some time now, been interested in how good ideas succeed — regardless of context. There’s a point at which we all learn that success has very little to do with a good idea, hard work, or brilliant execution. Whether it’s a band that ‘makes it’ or a stodgy company putting out a truly innovate product — I’m curious about the patterns and lessons common to these different situations: “Why did ‘they’ succeed where others didn’t?” And now that I’m saying this, perhaps my motivation has something to do with fear. By understanding these universal patterns of success, maybe I’m trying to minimize the risk associated with launching a venture of my own, in whatever form that may take."    (Continued via adaptive path)    [Usability Resources]

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