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Re: First post

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  • strugglingdesmond
    Thanks much for the encouraging words! The big thing that it s clear I bring is the ability to talk with customers who might otherwise be intimidated by very
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 3, 2012
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      Thanks much for the encouraging words!

      The big thing that it's clear I bring is the ability to talk with customers who might otherwise be intimidated by very technical discussions. And the biggest value I bring is the usability testing. I wish I could do more of it that we've done. So far we've had usability tests about every 6-8 weeks. It's tough because our customers cannot accept gifts or compensation.

      The agile dev process with this team is simply hard to interrupt with any process or artifacts that don't have immediate relevancy to getting the code done or testing it. I keep trying to tell myself there is a usability maturity curve at work here, and I need to push only what the team is ready to handle with respect to usability.

      Another complicating factor is the team is used to getting design work from a very talented designer who delivers nice-looking wireframes or coded prototypes. That's fine and has its place certainly. But I think the team would be better served by faster, looser mockups or even paper prototyping.

      The feedback I'm getting is that things are going well. I will try to get even more user feedback. But, IMO, I also need another project to keep me motivated.

      -- SD

      --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "davidkallen" <davidkallen@...> wrote:
      >
      > It is a rare joy to have a dedicated usability expert on a project. They are lucky. Do they know why you are there? Do they understand the value you bring and respect your profession and expertise? Have you spoken openly with them about your perceptions and worked to find ways to work together more smoothly?
      >
    • strugglingdesmond
      ... I believe they do value the user feedback pretty highly. As for respect and openness... that has had its ups and downs. IHMO, the team and process is very
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 5, 2012
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        --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "davidkallen" <davidkallen@...> wrote:
        >
        > It is a rare joy to have a dedicated usability expert on a project. They are lucky. Do they know why you are there? Do they understand the value you bring and respect your profession and expertise? Have you spoken openly with them about your perceptions and worked to find ways to work together more smoothly?
        >
        I believe they do value the user feedback pretty highly. As for respect and openness... that has had its ups and downs.

        IHMO, the team and process is very developer-centric and they don't realize how much. The group is stingy with any group discussion time that is not the developer track. Again, compounding the "problem" for me is they are quite successful and their customers in the govt are very happy as well.

        -- SD
      • strugglingdesmond
        Hi Michael, While I agree with what you say, the team does remarkably well with their non-visual thinking. I m a big proponent of visual thinking, and have
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 5, 2012
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          Hi Michael,

          While I agree with what you say, the team does remarkably well with their non-visual thinking.

          I'm a big proponent of visual thinking, and have tried to be quicker and better at it by working through books from Dan Roam and keeping up with some visual thinking bloggers.

          One challenge with all of this is I work with a strong designer with high technical skills who has been on the project for years. However, he is far less likely than me to show early drafts of design ideas. He is always produces nice wireframes that the team uses to at least start the development stories. But he is basically part of the team culture of having lots of conversation with little or nothing to visually capture it.

          Anyway... it's an uphill battle, and sometimes I tire of it. For myself at least, I still use a whiteboard drawing to jot notes or depict what is going on to keep my sanity. How much the others take away from it is hard to say.

          -- SD

          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Michael James <mj4scrum@...> wrote:
          >
          > Meant to reply sooner.
          >
          > I usually teach teams that the problem with communication is the illusion that it's occurred. Writing something together is a useful way of determining that we're "all on the same page" as you put it, even if the written artifact itself isn't valuable. Even Agile teams that don't create unnecessary documents can use big pens on markerboards or flipchart sheets to help visualize common understanding. So I support your effort to get them to slow down a little and go outside their previous comfort zone with this.
          >
          > --mj
          > (Michael)
          >
          > On Oct 3, 2012, at 12:57 PM, strugglingdesmond <joegrant413@...> wrote:
          >
          > >
          > >
          > > Thanks for your response!
          > >
          > > We do have stories, written in a "gherkin" or "Given / When / Then" format. These are used by QA, and to drive development.
          > >
          > > What motivated my first post is the frustration with the flurry of verbal communication with nothing written even temporarily to be sure we are all on the same page. This bothers me the most when we are talking through what the user does and UI behaviors.
          > >
          > > The team seems allergic to anything written. Except for the gherkin stories.
          > >
          > > -- SD
          > >
          > > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Holm, Stefan" <stefan.holm@> wrote:
          > > >
          > > > Hi,
          > > > I can understand your frustration. ...
          > > > How is with the testers in the project? Do they not have need of written requirements in order to be able to make test cases?
          > > >
          > > > __________________________________________
          > > >
          > > > Stefan Holm | Usability Designer | Sogeti
          > > > Phone +46 (0) 8 53 68 20 00 | Mobile +46 (0) 709 52 02 18
          > > > stefan.holm@<mailto:stefan.holm@>
          > > >
          > > > Svetsarvägen 4, Solna Business Park | P.O. Box 1399 | 171 27 Solna | Sweden
          > > > www.sogeti.com<http://www.sogeti.com/> / www.sogeti.se<http://www.sogeti.se/> / www.sogeti.no<http://www.sogeti.no/> / www.sogeti.dk<http://www.sogeti.dk/> / www.sogeti.fi<http://www.sogeti.fi/>
          > > >
          > > > [sogeti_varmred_32mm_rgb_72dpi] [branschbast_SveBastaArbGiv_80px]
          > > > __________________________________________
          > > >
          > > > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of strugglingdesmond
          > > > Sent: den 3 oktober 2012 00:40
          > > > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
          > > > Subject: [agile-usability] First post
          > > >
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > Hello,
          > > >
          > > > This is my first post to the group. I've been a usability / designer / UX guy for more decades than I care to disclose. I'm well acquainted with most UCD practices, and have been on my third Agile project. This third one has me 100% dedicated to one project team in a company 100% dedicated to Agile.
          > > >
          > > > It has been very challenging. Most of the material I've seen about practicing usability in an agile environment doesn't seems to address my particular project situation.
          > > >
          > > > One of the biggest difficulties -- at least for me -- is the team seems to be quite successful at having a lot of detailed communications done only verbally and often in groups. I have felt that even trying to write down anything even briefly on the whiteboard is an unwelcome interruptions.
          > > >
          > > > The team of developers is very smart, and several have been on this complicated project for years. And -- I have to emphasize -- they've been successful at satisfying their govt clients and delivering quality software.
          > > >
          > > > Anyway... that's my story so far.
          > > >
          > > > -- SD
          > > >
          > >
          > >
          >
        • lou schwartz
          Hi, do you have tried live sketching ? When I m in this situation I sketch to share what I understand and thus to discuss the non-understood parts. I use only
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 5, 2012
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            Hi,
            do you have tried live sketching ?
            When I'm in this situation I sketch to share what I understand and thus to discuss the non-understood parts.
            I use only paper and pen to quick draw an idea of interface, to design a workflow etc.
            The better is paper board, but if they are allergic, in a first step, you can use only paper sheet on the table.

            Good luck

            Lou


            Lou Schwartz
            R&D Engineer
            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor
            SSI - Service Science and Innovation
            Unit SISE - Software Intensive Services Engineering
            29, avenue John F. Kennedy
            L-1855 Luxembourg
            --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Please do not print this document unless it is necessary. Consider the environment.

            2012/10/5 Michael James <mj4scrum@...>
             

            Meant to reply sooner.


            I usually teach teams that the problem with communication is the illusion that it's occurred.  Writing something together is a useful way of determining that we're "all on the same page" as you put it, even if the written artifact itself isn't valuable.  Even Agile teams that don't create unnecessary documents can use big pens on markerboards or flipchart sheets to help visualize common understanding.  So I support your effort to get them to slow down a little and go outside their previous comfort zone with this.

            --mj
            (Michael)

            On Oct 3, 2012, at 12:57 PM, strugglingdesmond <joegrant413@...> wrote:

             



            Thanks for your response!

            We do have stories, written in a "gherkin" or "Given / When / Then" format. These are used by QA, and to drive development.

            What motivated my first post is the frustration with the flurry of verbal communication with nothing written even temporarily to be sure we are all on the same page. This bothers me the most when we are talking through what the user does and UI behaviors.

            The team seems allergic to anything written. Except for the gherkin stories.

            -- SD

            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Holm, Stefan" <stefan.holm@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi,
            > I can understand your frustration. ...
            > How is with the testers in the project? Do they not have need of written requirements in order to be able to make test cases?
            >
            > __________________________________________
            >
            > Stefan Holm | Usability Designer | Sogeti
            > Phone +46 (0) 8 53 68 20 00 | Mobile +46 (0) 709 52 02 18
            > stefan.holm@...<mailto:stefan.holm@...>
            >
            > Svetsarvägen 4, Solna Business Park | P.O. Box 1399 | 171 27 Solna | Sweden
            > www.sogeti.com<http://www.sogeti.com/> / www.sogeti.se<http://www.sogeti.se/> / www.sogeti.no<http://www.sogeti.no/> / www.sogeti.dk<http://www.sogeti.dk/> / www.sogeti.fi<http://www.sogeti.fi/>
            >
            > [sogeti_varmred_32mm_rgb_72dpi] [branschbast_SveBastaArbGiv_80px]
            > __________________________________________
            >
            > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of strugglingdesmond
            > Sent: den 3 oktober 2012 00:40
            > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            > Subject: [agile-usability] First post
            >
            >
            >
            > Hello,
            >
            > This is my first post to the group. I've been a usability / designer / UX guy for more decades than I care to disclose. I'm well acquainted with most UCD practices, and have been on my third Agile project. This third one has me 100% dedicated to one project team in a company 100% dedicated to Agile.
            >
            > It has been very challenging. Most of the material I've seen about practicing usability in an agile environment doesn't seems to address my particular project situation.
            >
            > One of the biggest difficulties -- at least for me -- is the team seems to be quite successful at having a lot of detailed communications done only verbally and often in groups. I have felt that even trying to write down anything even briefly on the whiteboard is an unwelcome interruptions.
            >
            > The team of developers is very smart, and several have been on this complicated project for years. And -- I have to emphasize -- they've been successful at satisfying their govt clients and delivering quality software.
            >
            > Anyway... that's my story so far.
            >
            > -- SD
            >



          • Mike Dwyer
            I agree with MJ and would like to add this. I have noticed that communications get skewed because the strong voices overwhelm soft voices. When you sense this
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 5, 2012
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              I agree with MJ and would like to add this.

              I have noticed that communications get skewed because the strong voices overwhelm soft voices.  When you sense this have everyone stop talking and start writing individual Gerhkins on ( post its or on 3x5 cards and stick them on a wall (blue painters tape is safest)).  Time box this (say 5 minutes).  Begin with the most important and or the biggest issues each individual thinks of.  Use the ‘silent sort’ technique individuals ideas are written or drawn onto sticky notes or 3x5 cards and posted onto wall. The group approaches the wall together, and without speaking they proceed to rearrange the sticky notes either from top to bottom or from left to right in order of priority or appropriateness. Similar ideas are grouped together to simplify the process.

              From this the information is captured, organized by the team, and equal time has been given to each thought.

              Mike Dwyer, CST
              Principal  Agile Consultant

              BigVisible Solutions
              email: mdwyer@...

              Follow US on Twitter: @bigvisible

               

              "Planning constantly peers into the future for indications as to where a solution may emerge."

              "A Plan is a complex situation, adapting to an emerging solution." 

               

              From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael James
              Sent: Friday, October 05, 2012 3:34 AM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [agile-usability] First post

               

               

              Meant to reply sooner.

               

              I usually teach teams that the problem with communication is the illusion that it's occurred.  Writing something together is a useful way of determining that we're "all on the same page" as you put it, even if the written artifact itself isn't valuable.  Even Agile teams that don't create unnecessary documents can use big pens on markerboards or flipchart sheets to help visualize common understanding.  So I support your effort to get them to slow down a little and go outside their previous comfort zone with this.

               

              --mj

              (Michael)

               

              On Oct 3, 2012, at 12:57 PM, strugglingdesmond <joegrant413@...> wrote:



               



              Thanks for your response!

              We do have stories, written in a "gherkin" or "Given / When / Then" format. These are used by QA, and to drive development.

              What motivated my first post is the frustration with the flurry of verbal communication with nothing written even temporarily to be sure we are all on the same page. This bothers me the most when we are talking through what the user does and UI behaviors.

              The team seems allergic to anything written. Except for the gherkin stories.

              -- SD

              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Holm, Stefan" <stefan.holm@...> wrote:
              >
              > Hi,
              > I can understand your frustration. ...
              > How is with the testers in the project? Do they not have need of written requirements in order to be able to make test cases?
              >
              > __________________________________________
              >
              > Stefan Holm | Usability Designer | Sogeti
              > Phone +46 (0) 8 53 68 20 00 | Mobile +46 (0) 709 52 02 18
              > stefan.holm@...<mailto:stefan.holm@...>
              >
              > Svetsarvägen 4, Solna Business Park | P.O. Box 1399 | 171 27 Solna | Sweden
              > www.sogeti.com<http://www.sogeti.com/> / www.sogeti.se<http://www.sogeti.se/> / www.sogeti.no<http://www.sogeti.no/> / www.sogeti.dk<http://www.sogeti.dk/> / www.sogeti.fi<http://www.sogeti.fi/>
              >
              > [sogeti_varmred_32mm_rgb_72dpi] [branschbast_SveBastaArbGiv_80px]
              > __________________________________________
              >
              > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of strugglingdesmond
              > Sent: den 3 oktober 2012 00:40
              > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              > Subject: [agile-usability] First post
              >
              >
              >
              > Hello,
              >
              > This is my first post to the group. I've been a usability / designer / UX guy for more decades than I care to disclose. I'm well acquainted with most UCD practices, and have been on my third Agile project. This third one has me 100% dedicated to one project team in a company 100% dedicated to Agile.
              >
              > It has been very challenging. Most of the material I've seen about practicing usability in an agile environment doesn't seems to address my particular project situation.
              >
              > One of the biggest difficulties -- at least for me -- is the team seems to be quite successful at having a lot of detailed communications done only verbally and often in groups. I have felt that even trying to write down anything even briefly on the whiteboard is an unwelcome interruptions.
              >
              > The team of developers is very smart, and several have been on this complicated project for years. And -- I have to emphasize -- they've been successful at satisfying their govt clients and delivering quality software.
              >
              > Anyway... that's my story so far.
              >
              > -- SD
              >

               

            • strugglingdesmond
              ... Just to clarify, the team is very religious about using cards and a big kanban board. The user stories and acceptance criteria are written in a
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 5, 2012
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                --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Marius van Dam <mariusvandam@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi Struggling Desmond,
                >
                > "The team seems allergic to anything written. "
                >
                > Some questions:
                > - They do have a backlog with user stories? What do the stories look like?
                > Are they only the given when then statements or is there anything else?
                > - Are the stories on a whiteboard or in a digital tool?
                > - Does the fact that nothing is written ever result into problems? Does it
                > happen that people were not on the same page?....

                Just to clarify, the team is very religious about using cards and a big kanban board. The user stories and acceptance criteria are written in a bug-tracking database. We also have wireframes, typically done in Illustrator, and jpegs for icons and other visual design assets.

                So the team does have documentation to support user stories. It's the rapid-fire, bewildering group conversations -- including topics on UI behavior and user behavior that aren't detailed in the user stories -- that frustrate me.

                Thanks,
                -- SD
              • strugglingdesmond
                Yes. After a short time, the more senior people, including the visual designer on the team, eventually take away the discussion with direct conversation and
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 8, 2012
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                  Yes. After a short time, the more senior people, including the visual designer on the team, eventually take away the discussion with direct conversation and eye contact between themselves.

                  It is worth trying more. Any change I affect will be gradual.

                  Thanks,
                  -- SD

                  --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, lou schwartz <schwartz.lou@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi,
                  > do you have tried live sketching ?
                  > When I'm in this situation I sketch to share what I understand and thus to
                  > discuss the non-understood parts.
                  > I use only paper and pen to quick draw an idea of interface, to design a
                  > workflow etc.
                  > The better is paper board, but if they are allergic, in a first step, you
                  > can use only paper sheet on the table.
                  >
                  > Good luck
                  >
                  > Lou
                  >
                  >
                  > Lou Schwartz
                  > R&D Engineer
                  > --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  >
                  > Centre de Recherche Public Henri Tudor
                  > SSI - Service Science and Innovation
                  > Unit SISE - Software Intensive Services Engineering
                  > 29, avenue John F. Kennedy
                  > L-1855 Luxembourg
                  > --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  > Please do not print this document unless it is necessary. Consider the
                  > environment.
                  >
                  > 2012/10/5 Michael James <mj4scrum@...>
                  >
                  > > **
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Meant to reply sooner.
                  > >
                  > > I usually teach teams that the problem with communication is the illusion
                  > > that it's occurred. Writing something together is a useful way of
                  > > determining that we're "all on the same page" as you put it, even if the
                  > > written artifact itself isn't valuable. Even Agile teams that don't create
                  > > unnecessary documents can use big pens on markerboards or flipchart sheets
                  > > to help visualize common understanding. So I support your effort to get
                  > > them to slow down a little and go outside their previous comfort zone with
                  > > this.
                  > >
                  > > --mj
                  > > (Michael)
                  > >
                  > > On Oct 3, 2012, at 12:57 PM, strugglingdesmond <joegrant413@...>
                  > > wrote:
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Thanks for your response!
                  > >
                  > > We do have stories, written in a "gherkin" or "Given / When / Then"
                  > > format. These are used by QA, and to drive development.
                  > >
                  > > What motivated my first post is the frustration with the flurry of verbal
                  > > communication with nothing written even temporarily to be sure we are all
                  > > on the same page. This bothers me the most when we are talking through what
                  > > the user does and UI behaviors.
                  > >
                  > > The team seems allergic to anything written. Except for the gherkin
                  > > stories.
                  > >
                  > > -- SD
                  > >
                  > > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Holm, Stefan" <stefan.holm@>
                  > > wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > Hi,
                  > > > I can understand your frustration. ...
                  > > > How is with the testers in the project? Do they not have need of written
                  > > requirements in order to be able to make test cases?
                  > > >
                  > > > __________________________________________
                  > > >
                  > > > Stefan Holm | Usability Designer | Sogeti
                  > > > Phone +46 (0) 8 53 68 20 00 | Mobile +46 (0) 709 52 02 18
                  > > > stefan.holm@<mailto:stefan.holm@>
                  > > >
                  > > > Svetsarvägen 4, Solna Business Park | P.O. Box 1399 | 171 27 Solna |
                  > > Sweden
                  > > > www.sogeti.com<http://www.sogeti.com/> / www.sogeti.se<
                  > > http://www.sogeti.se/> / www.sogeti.no<http://www.sogeti.no/> /
                  > > www.sogeti.dk<http://www.sogeti.dk/> / www.sogeti.fi<http://www.sogeti.fi/
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > [sogeti_varmred_32mm_rgb_72dpi] [branschbast_SveBastaArbGiv_80px]
                  > > > __________________________________________
                  > > >
                  > > > From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:
                  > > agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of strugglingdesmond
                  > > > Sent: den 3 oktober 2012 00:40
                  > > > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > > > Subject: [agile-usability] First post
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > Hello,
                  > > >
                  > > > This is my first post to the group. I've been a usability / designer /
                  > > UX guy for more decades than I care to disclose. I'm well acquainted with
                  > > most UCD practices, and have been on my third Agile project. This third one
                  > > has me 100% dedicated to one project team in a company 100% dedicated to
                  > > Agile.
                  > > >
                  > > > It has been very challenging. Most of the material I've seen about
                  > > practicing usability in an agile environment doesn't seems to address my
                  > > particular project situation.
                  > > >
                  > > > One of the biggest difficulties -- at least for me -- is the team seems
                  > > to be quite successful at having a lot of detailed communications done only
                  > > verbally and often in groups. I have felt that even trying to write down
                  > > anything even briefly on the whiteboard is an unwelcome interruptions.
                  > > >
                  > > > The team of developers is very smart, and several have been on this
                  > > complicated project for years. And -- I have to emphasize -- they've been
                  > > successful at satisfying their govt clients and delivering quality software.
                  > > >
                  > > > Anyway... that's my story so far.
                  > > >
                  > > > -- SD
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
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