(originally posted at https://adrianhoward.com/posts/faster-horses/)

photophilde CC BY-SA 2.0

Since I’ve just had to have this conversation again…

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

– Henry Ford did not say this

This quote often gets thrown at product and user research people as a reason not to talk to customers and end-users. Here’s me ranting at UX Bristol for three minutes on why it’s foolish and wrong.

To summarise the three minute rant — Henry Ford didn’t say it. The excellent Quote Investigator has a nice long post on this. The first reference to this quote…

(originally posted at https://adrianhoward.com/posts/four-categories-of-asshole/)

Rhododendrites CC BY-SA 4.0

Earlier this year I got involved in a “discussion” with somebody about their sexist language, and how they reacted when they got feedback on that language from one of the people affected. Details unimportant.

I’m not this person’s boss — this was at a conference — and I usually suck at stepping up in a way that’s productive. However, for once, this ended pretty well with an apparently sincere apology being made to the relevant people.

The turn in the conversation was when I responded to his “I’m not sexist, I have daughters, etc.” rant with…

(originally posted at https://adrianhoward.com/posts/maslows-hierarchy-of-nicolas-cage/)

Inspired by David Bland’s Nicolas Cage based explanation of Cynefin I wasted 30m last night coming up with the equivalent for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Yes. I’m aware there are lots of issues with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a joke :-)

Further reading:


How communities of practice lie to themselves & everybody else

There are a couple of biases I see around how folk inside and outside communities of practice perceive each other. Something I’ve seen often enough that there is probably a name for it.

But I don’t know what that name is.

Some smart social psychologist, anthropologist or sociologist probably wrote about this seventy years ago. So I’m just going to ramble about it here for a bit, and hope that somebody smarter than I am can point me to that paper. So I know what to call it.

Let’s start with the people inside a community of practice. They can…

24 March 2018, The Skiff, Brighton

“Time for the quiz!” — uxcampbrighton

I always enjoy the annual UX Camp Brighton unconference, and this year’s was no exception.

Boadicea Statuary Group” by Rafesmar is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I’ve been having a lot more conversations in recent months with people who are new to leadership roles in UX.

  • They worry about transitioning to the role.
  • They worry about what their first steps should be.
  • They worry about how to handle taking over from somebody else (or, in some cases, how to be the first person with a UX leadership role).

This isn’t a complete plan — but I’d suggest doing all of the following:

  1. Meet everybody — not just the designers. Pay extra attention to any person or group who interacts with customers (sales, customer support, technical authors…

The answer to “How do I get better at usability testing?” is always going to be “Do more usability tests”. However, I often get asked after a workshop which books I recommend to help people get started. So if you’ve not done usability testing before I suggest reading these books in this order.

1) Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug

Rocket Surgery Made Easy is written for people who haven’t done usability testing before. It’s fun, short, and jargon free with just enough of the basics to get you up and running quickly. …

Shipwrecks, Black-Ops Scientologists, Pirate Space Stations, Cloche Hats & Emotional Illustrations

The Thirteen-Gun Salute, Patrick O’Brian

Continuing my Patrick O’Brian re-re-re-read. Traitors. South America. Assassinations. Dissections. Great apes. Banking failures. Shipwrecks. All the good stuff. A somewhat cliffhanger ending too. I can imagine being somewhat annoyed if I had to wait for “The Nutmeg of Consolation”, but fortunately I don’t have to wait!

(5 January, ★★★★☆)

Dark State, Charles Stross

Oh this was fun. Empire Games set the characters up and now the dominoes are falling at a pleasurable rate — as parallel worlds (and world views) desperately try not go to war. Nobody in here is a moustache twirling villain. Nobody is even overreacting to perceived threats. Yet things…

Questions to keep you focused on user story value

Consider a user story…

After my workshops on Customer Interviewing I’m often asked which books I would recommend for further reading. I always advocate practice as the best way to improve — but these should help you get up and running if you’ve not tried interviewing before.

Getting started

There are two short (free!) mini-books on interviewing practice that give a good overview of the basics.

Interviewing for Research by Andrew Travers

This was written for a user experience audience and will give you a good introduction. It’s great for UX folk new to interviewing.

Talking to Humans by Giff Constable

Giff targets his book more to the entrepreneur / startup person but there are tools and tactics…

Adrian Howard

Vacillates between Impostor Syndrome & the Dunning-Kruger effect. Helping organisations build great teams & products with quietstars.com

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