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RE: [agile-usability] Design Values

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  • Larry Constantine
    Todd, I don t know where to begin. No one here in this forum, and certainly not me, has ever implied (as far as I can recall) that user research provides
    Message 1 of 37 , Jul 13, 2009
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      Todd,

      I don't know where to begin. No one here in this forum, and certainly not
      me, has ever implied (as far as I can recall) that user research provides
      little if any value. The fact that you keep reading into and exaggerating
      what is in fact a nuanced position that I have tried to express with some
      precision (leavened with some humor, too) is exactly the problem that my
      peppering of flippancy addresses. The perspective you attribute to the agile
      community is, I would agree, deeply flawed, but it is not one I hear from
      the agilistas.

      > The self-stated fact that Larry cannot imagine user research contributing
      to making the cited projects any better shows that his perspective is flawed
      from the outset. <

      In the interest of ongoing civility in this forum I will only repeat that
      you completely and repeatedly misrepresent my perspective. On the assumption
      that you misrepresent it because you don't understand it rather than as a
      matter of choice, let me say it one more time in simple statements: (1) user
      research is generally a good idea; (2) it is not infinitely good; (3) it has
      a downside as well as an upside; (4) there always tradeoffs and choices, and
      sometimes the best way to spend scarce resources is on something other than
      user research.

      Going back to your earlier prod:

      > imagine how astronomically successful it would
      have been if it had been informed by some good design research <

      My exact response, again, was:

      > I have no reason to believe that so much as ten
      minutes or ten weeks more of user research would have resulted in a
      dramatically better product in the cases I know within the constraints of
      time. <

      The operant clauses there are: "have no reason to believe" not "can't
      imagine"; "resulted in a dramatically better" not "contributing to"; and
      "within the constraints of time."

      Indeed, if you go back and read my original post, you'll see that in both
      cases we did do some "user experience research," but not too much. (It was
      of course, "good" user research; I wouldn't have it any other way. :-) You
      do not have to sell me on face-to-face interaction with real people who
      might be or become users, which I always do.

      If you truly want to help the agile community appreciate UX and the UX
      community benefit from agile thinking, then I would suggest you address what
      members of these communities are actually saying rather than exaggerated
      attributions that are easily dismissed but also not representative.

      As for me, I am not really a member of either community, although I work and
      teach and write in both spheres. The fact that I am an equal opportunity
      detractor and have found fault with some of the assumptions and practices on
      both sides may explain why no one will claim me. ;-)

      Yours in nuanced distinctions,

      --Larry Constantine, IDSA, ACM Fellow
      Director, Lab:USE Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
      (www.labuse.org)
      Professor, Department of Mathematics & Engineering
      University of Madeira | Funchal, Portugal
      Chief Scientist, Constantine & Lockwood Ltd
    • Jeremy Kriegel
      One of Jeff s points resonated strongly with me. To put it flippantly, no one cares how we build products, just how much they get from using them. Ideally, the
      Message 37 of 37 , Jul 27, 2009
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        One of Jeff's points resonated strongly with me. To put it flippantly, no one cares how we build products, just how much they get from using them. Ideally, the way we work makes us happy, makes our customers happy, and makes our bosses happy. (note: money is often a significant component of said happiness)

        Adherence to the process can be almost comical. At a prior company, when talking to someone about why they missed their release deadline (yeah, I know. Agile and deadlines are not the best of friends) he explained that a certain activity had to be done 2 sprints prior to release, but that its associated story got cut from the sprint it needed to happen in. Clearly, there is a lot at work here that I'm not going to bother to dissect, but this team was more focused on the agile process than the success of the product and the perceptions of the company leadership. It was not pretty. 

        -jer

        "Be well, do good work & keep in touch."
            - Garrison Keillor


        On Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 11:00 PM, Ron Jeffries <ronjeffries@...> wrote:
         

        Hello, John. On Sunday, July 26, 2009, at 10:53:07 PM, you wrote:

        > Heh. It would never occur to me to recommend something that I wasn't
        > doing myself.

        I often recommend exercise and eating sensibly ... War remains the decisive human failure.
        -- John Kenneth Galbraith


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