Balanced Experience
Summer Newsletter
July, 2016
What's Your Corporate Culture?

How would you describe your company's corporate culture?  "Engineering"?  "Data-driven"?  "Consensus-driven"?  There are a lot of ways to describe a culture, but if you're not including "user-focused" or even "customer-focused" as a core part of what your culture is about, you might have a big problem.

I recently had the interesting challenge of helping two customers build and mature their UX capabilities at right around the same time.  One company was a huge Fortune 100 company.  The other was a small company of about 150 employees.  I'd describe the corporate culture of the first with words like "engineering", "manufacturing", "consensus driven", "slow", and "product first".  I'd describe the corporate culture of the second one with terms like "fiercely customer-focused", "innovative", and "well-integrated." 

One of the companies has succeeded in building a great UX team and a great UX culture at their organization.  The other has not.  One of the companies has doubled in size and is aggressively managing their growth.  The other is trying to hold on.  The bigger company, despite its vastly larger budgets and staff size just couldn't get UX to stick.  It's one of my sadder experiences with a client.  The smaller company, working with bootstrap budgets and a team of eager designers and developers, has made UX a core strategic focus of the company.  I'm very proud of them.

Culture comes from two places at an organization - your "DNA" and your leadership.  A big old company has well-established DNA.  If a focus on users is not a key part of your DNA, then you have to be very intentional about changing that DNA to embrace UX.  That's where leadership comes in.  Culture changes typically happen from the top down.  If you want to change your culture to embrace users, your leadership must support that vision and make it a priority.  In my examples above, one company did and one company didn't.

Have any stories or thoughts to share?  I'd love to here from you.
Hidden Gems

Here a few interesting tidbits that caught our eye:  
Chekov died... from bad UI design
Ok, we've all heard stories of how bad user interface (UI) design causes problems like lost sales, dissatisfied customers, or lost productivity.  It's unusual, however, to hear about someone dying from bad design.  That's exactly what seems to have happened to Anton Yelchin who played Chekov in recent Star Trek movies.  Yelchin was crushed by his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  In a nut shell, he thought he'd put it in park but likely put it in neutral without knowing it as he walked away.  The Jeep rolled and crushed him to death.

How is that a UI design problem though?  Well, the problem has to do with a really poorly designed shifter.  Users get no real feedback about the results of shifting - the shifter always returns to the middle position no matter what you shift to, and the driver's hand covers the lighted display on top of the shifter, so the driver can't see any changes there.  The result is that the driver has no way of knowing if he or she is in drive, neutral, reverse or park - which can lead to some very unfortunate consequences :-( 
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