Archive for April, 2007

Design-centred vs customer-centred

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Design centred good, design dominated bad” - agreed, but I’d say “customer-centred good, design-centred bad” and if you read the full article Jeremy Moon and Icebreaker first thought of (”We had a hunch that market existed“) the customers and what they wanted before they started designing.

Want to see examples of design-centred (dominated) over customer-centred? Most web sites fall into this category - and, ironically, many award winners.

The Icebreaker web site (I’d link to it  - but I need permission first) is very pretty - would be good if I could read the home page.

Knowing your place

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Thank God the Black Caps “got thumped” today and revealed their true lack of talent in the less embarrassing semi-finals than show themselves up for the losers they are in the final. This is the “sole consolation” from today’s loss. Well done India, Pakistan and the West Indies for exiting early and knowing your place.

Is this the kind of thinking that will enable we New Zealanders to create the next YouTube, e-bay, iPod or any other “next big thing” or win at anything other than rugby and netball?

Well done Sri Lanka and congratulations to Mahela Jayawardene on a perfect one-day innings. Sri Lanka batted first and won - so that’s the end of me as a cricket pundit (that is a consolation)!

Good To Great - can you “get the right people on the bus” in a technology department?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I’ve recently been conducting a series of workshops for a company who are thinking of using the techniques from Jim Collins‘ book “Good to Great“. It worked out fairly well for the management team but when I presented to the team members, they had difficulties seeing how executive actions in large, American corporates could be made to “scale down” to the lowest level of a technical department.

The book talks about getting the right people “on the bus” before you know exactly where the bus is going. This might work at an executive level but how can it work inside a technology department? Just get any old DBA and hope they can administer whatever you choose sometime in the future? Nah, don’t think so.

Any thoughts?

Convention = consistency = usability

Friday, April 20th, 2007

One of the key principles of usability is adherence to convention - if we set things up in a consistent way then it’s a whole lot easier for people to understand how something works and then make educated guesses to achieve a result. A mis-applied or incomplete consistency is often worse than inconsistency. (from Gnome site)

The Office of the Domain Name Commissioner in their publication “Making a name for yourself…”(PDF 295kb) states “Second level domains (2LD) allow .nz registrants to communicate extra information about themselves in their domain name. Unlike “yourcompany.com”, with .nz there is always a group of letters in between (most widely used are yourcompany.co.nz).” (my emphasis applied)

Excellent - we have a clear rule, providing consistency.

So why do we have www.govt.nz and www.parliament.nz ?

I wouldn’t mind so much if www.government.govt.nz redirected to www.govt.nz - but it doesn’t.

(as for www.e.govt.nz, at least www.e-government.govt.nz works!)

Will luck determine the winner of the World Cricket Cup?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

As I mentioned the other day the toss is an important factor in determining who wins. But only if you field first on winning the toss. If winning the toss is such a strong factor - is the rest of the game a WOMBAT?

In the Super Eight matches (as at 19 April)  where the winner has been the team that won the toss - that’s 12 times, on 10 occasions they’ve chosen to field first.

For the other two, New Zealand batted first and beat Bangladesh as expected (regardless of who batted first)  and the upset was Ireland choosing to bat first and beating Bangladesh.

So, as noted previously - for semifinals and the final, the team winning the toss puts themselves at great disadvantage if they bat first.

What odds that the winners of those three matches will be the teams that win the toss (and choose to field first)?

Finally, why did England choose to bat first against South Africa? They must have known the odds.

“Matters arising” - deja vu all over again

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

“Matters arising” (from the previous minutes) is a classic meeting problem.

In one organisation that I belonged to (pre-Action Meetings), the “matters arising” agenda item of our regular management committee meeting would occupy fully two-thirds of the meeting. We were always in the last meeting or the one before that or the one before the one before - still figuring out what we hadn’t done or resolved the previous time. And, those matters always seemed so pressing and urgent (because they were dragging on and not being resolved) that they would dominate anything else.

Deal with “matters arising” effectively - and you can be working in this meeting.

World Cup Cricket - if you win the toss do you win the match?

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Straying off topic wildy - to some people cricket is a WOMBAT and to cricket purists one-day cricket is a WOMBAT - to others of us, it’s endlessly fascinating. There is a World Cup on and the New Zealand team is doing fine having just got into the semi-finals.

A cricket match begins with a toss of a coin and one of the two captains makes a call and if he calls right can choose to bat or to field, conversely if he calls wrong the choice goes to the other captain. The principle is that it’s a 50/50 call - hence fair and ideally the choice of batting or fielding shouldn’t affect the result too much (but could provide some advantage) or else the game can pretty much be decided by who wins the toss.

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Round and round the meeting goes - and lunch goes out the window

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

A colleague missed out on a lunch date today - because her lunch mate was stuck in a meeting that was going round in circles and hence running over time. Sound familiar?

Why do meetings go round in circles? Because they’re constructed around starting discussion not around ending it - unlike Action Meetings, that finish on time (or way earlier!!).

Are you “HIP” enough to be a human?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Can two diammetrically opposed pieces of research both be useful? Note: acronym haters beware.

Here’s a story about software that “recognises” the objects forming contents of pictures. By using improved “learning” techniques, computers will be better able to recognise and describe objects within pictures.

On the other hand - it’s very useful that computers aren’t so good at recognising pictures and humans are.

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Speed kills - and are Aussies better drivers?

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Road death and injury is a classic WOMBAT - and we do not trivialise it or it’s impact - the human and financial costs are huge. The notion of “holiday road tolls” and the “Easter road toll” brought this matter to mind. I have to say that I have been of the opinion that there has been overmuch emphasis on speeding and ticketing speeding - but, having read quite a lot of material over the last few days, I’m almost ready to change my mind.

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