Application Envisioning idea
Examples from three knowledge work domains:
(Illustrated above) A financial trader has worked at three different firms in the last five years, using the same trading application in each organization. Although each firm had slightly different ways of accomplishing the same goals, the trading tool consistently displayed the right kinds of flexibility to be effective in each environment.
Examining knowledge work across a number of organizations, there can be can be major variations in how different individuals and groups accomplish the same types of work practice (A1). Even organizations operating in highly similar fields can have very different goals, established processes, observed methods, and barriers to success. Within a given workplace, people may have developed several different ways to
accomplish certain goals based on recognizable cases.
A scientist’s use of her analysis applications depends on the purpose and methods of the particular clinical studies that her lab is currently conducting. However, looking across the different types of studies that her lab has recently pursued, she thinks that she typically performs different “flavors” of the same essential analyses.
An architect meets with her team at the end of every project to discuss potential process improvements. Looking back across two years, she sees that her studio’s detailed approaches to working have evolved more than she had realized.
Branches that stem from local and variable approaches to work can be difficult for product teams to meaningfully distill into shared, rationalized models (A4, A7). In some cases, a single model of how a product could mediate knowledge work can cover a critical mass of important variations. In many other cases, teams may benefit from creating multiple models in order to usefully and appropriately describe important categories and families of related scenarios.
When product teams do not actively consider how local practices and scenario variations might impact their emerging ideas about work mediation and application scope, resulting products may lack needed flexibilities for some locales. When presented with applications that do not adequately reflect their current practices (K3), knowledge workers may not want to change their well known ways of working in order to make use of new tools (D2, D3, K). Even when a product’s implied changes are desirable, some established, “home grown” approaches may be exceedingly difficult to update.
Conversely, too much emphasis on supporting diversity in work practices may lead to unnecessary flexibility that can reduce learnability (K2, K6) and interaction clarity (G1) for more critical, common, and frequent scenarios (A9).
See also: A, B, C8, E, F1, F2, I1, M
Application Envisioning questions:
More specific questions for product teams to consider:
What tasks or larger activities, within the scope of work practice that your team is investigating, are performed differently in different locales and situations?
What variabilities stem mainly from local differences in practices, as seen when looking across targeted organizations?
How do common differences in workers’ personal behaviors and preferences create categorical variations in work practice? What circumstantial cases can drive important differences in workers’ approaches to accomplishing a goal? What can cause these divergent branches from a “normal” practice?
How do targeted individuals and organizations view the importance of their own ways of accomplishing work? Are they aware of other ways of doing things?
Are the variabilities that your team has identified trending toward more consolidation or further division?
Which variations could be thought of as critical or frequent enough to model as separate but related work practices? Which local practices are uncommon?
Which are frequent or seen as critical by targeted workers?
Which variations do people value just as much as the “normal” flows of their own work practices? Nearly as much as?
What practices might individuals and organizations be open to changing in order
to make use of a valuable new product? What offerings could provide that level
What other patterns and priorities could your team identify in these variations on workers’ practices? How might you use these insights to ideate useful and meaningful functionality concepts?
Are local practices and scenarios variations so heterogeneous and diverse as
to make a single application solution difficult to envision?
How could support for these practices impact the overall scope and framework
of your team’s application concepts?
How far might your team push flexibility for local practices before the interaction clarity of your sketched computing tools begins to break down?
Do you have enough information to usefully answer these and other envisioning questions? What additional research, problem space models, and design concepting could valuably inform your team’s application envisioning efforts?
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