Official hashtag: #meetings
My first session of SXSWi after lunch on Day 1 proved to be insightful as well as entertaining. When I scoured through the schedule, this one popped out, as most of us would agree that the process of conducting, or being part of a meeting is very much broken. So let's see what Hoffman had to say..
Jason Fried (37signals) in his book "Rework" talks about the practical problems of meetings:
- too abstract
- can get off subject
- there are personality issues / baggage
- meetings procreate like rabbits - set up a meeting to have another meeting
There are, however, some positives:
- shared awareness
- human connections
- reading body language
- ability to learn
Hoffman points out that conducting a meeting is a great tool, but too many times they are poorly designed and end up being a total waste of time and resources. At one point, he and his company acknowledged that it was broken and he set out to find a better way or improving the process. What he discovered was that there is already 40 years of research on the subject.
In "Designing Gestural Interfaces" Dan Saffer talks about and defines a clear language for physical interaction design. Hoffman argues that there should be more of this in meeting design.
He came up with this definition of what a meeting should be:
The art of facilitating or instigating an interaction between humans to a strategic and mutually beneficial end.
There are four big ideas to achieve this:
- Learn your roles
- Know how to facilitate
- Find your place
- Build your toolkit
1. Learn your roles - There should be four distinct roles for each meeting:
- Facilitator - neutral; does not evaluate; does not contribute ideas; provides the tools
- Recorder - used as group memory; is silent; records publicly; follows up after meeting
- Group Member - contributes ideas; stays positive; checks/balances each other members' ideas
- Leader - designs meeting; selects attendees and roles; also becomes Group Member
2. Know how to facilitate - It is key to have a good facilitator, some good tips on being one are:
- be a process guide
- be a provider of the tools (talked about later)
- a neutral third party
- require that full participation is mandatory (if member is not contributing, then they should not be there)
- mutual understanding (e.g. 1 member has read 27-page functional spec, but another has not = disconnect)
- be prepared
- use visual/graphical facilitation (diagrams, process maps)
3. Find your place - If you are dealing with multiple stakeholders, know where you fit in, and at what points you need engage and re-engage with them. Know when to use different techniques like divergent and convergent thinking to come up with ideas. Also see "How to make collaboration work" by David Straus.
4. Build your toolkit - Ensure you have the tools to conduct a successful meeting. Some tips:
- markers, pens, stickie notes, etc
- explore & experiment with different activities
- match the activity to the problem at hand
Remember that use of a meeting is just one tool out of many tools available to get stuff done. Getting stuff done is to make something real in the world. If not, it is a waste of time.
Session 2: Thin Is In. The Future Of Digital Wallets [solo]
by Christina Nguyen White - UX Designer, SapientNitro
Official hastag: #thinisin
Presentation is from the point of view of the customer.
The 2 extremes of the wallet personality = Pic of money clip & pic of a fat George Castanza type of wallet that does not fit into a pocket.
If you empty out the contents of the wallet with the latter personality, you might find - cash, vouchers, driver's license / ID, photos.
A digital wallet of the future may include all of these (and more) in virtual form. "What's in your wallet?" may soon become "What IS your wallet?". Some of the current examples:
- payment method - paypass
- financial management - mint.com
- coupons - groupon, starbucks
- comparison shopping - amazon
- tickets - Japanese airlines are allowing check in with phone app
PayPal started out as a P2P payment scheme, but now has evolved into something that deals more with single sign-on and utility for the consumer.
The players used to be the financial institutions and retail stores, now it's very much between likes of PayPal, the telcos that look after the mobile infrastructure, and possibly device enablers like Apple and in the near future, Facebook/Microsoft.
What needs to happen?
The traditional players and the new players have to work together, and have the consumer as the focus - Make it easy for them and UX, UX, UX, UX and UX.
Possible future scenario: A daughter finds that the fridge is all out of OJ. From her phone she can push a coupon deal out to her mum, who is already at the grocery store. She sees the alert and proceeds to buy OJ.
- think consumers first
- digital wallet is not just about "paying with phones"
- keep it simple, gradual enhancements
- has to be easy, effortless
- find place in the shopping ecosystem
- enable conversation
- be patient
Session 3 was a keynote by famed NYU professor Clay Shirky titled Why Would We Think Social Media Is Revolutionary?
I'm a little too exhausted to write this one up. I may do at some point, but here is a good summary through a collection of tweets made by the audience during the inspiring speech. His arguments are always spot on and I believe he is one of the most forward thinking people of our generation.
And if you've made it this far, I should also note that I did make it to the Source Code world premiere in the evening. Not only was Jake Gyllenhaal in the audience, but also the director Duncan Jones, writer Ben Ripley, and fellow cast members Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga. They all came out on stage after the showing and stuck around for a Q&A.
The film itself was great. It's amazing that you can't quite place it in the action thriller category when it's essentially about a bomb in a crowded train in Chicago. I really liked the undercurrent of humour and I think the audience really lapped it up - especially those that sat around me. I think Americans generally get more excited in movie theatres than us Aussies? Let me know if this is true.
Ok. Time for bed.