Interesting elsewhere – 28 May 2012 (long backlog edition)

Things which caught my eye elsewhere on the web

  • Will the carrot or the stick help get social housing tenants online? – Helen Milner’s Blog Lots of people see the introduction of Universal Credit as a stick to coax people online, but I think it’s also a carrot for many people – if you’re claiming you can claim your benefits more quickly, get them paid to you all at once and have more control over your own money, which is a pretty big selling point.
  • Sir Bob Kerslake: why social media is a vital tool for the civil service | Public Leaders Network | Guardian Professional Social media is becoming an integral part of the everyday work of the civil servant, opening the civil service up and allowing us to be more in touch with our staff and the public than ever before.
  • User experience is strategy, not design The practice of user experience is most successful when focused on strategy, vision, and planning, not design and execution. In other words, UX adds value by bringing design practices to strategic endeavors.
  • John Kay – Beware of Franklin’s Gambit in making decisions Assessments are based, not on whether the decisions made are any good, but on whether they were made in accordance with what is deemed to be an appropriate process. We assume, not only that good procedure will give rise to good outcome, but also that the ability to articulate the procedure is the key to good outcomes.
  • A handful of lessons from beta testing features on the Guardian’s website Websites are complex. Content websites with complex content are even more complex. You will have inevitably got things wrong for some users. I genuinely believe that opening up a new feature or piece of functionality to the user base and opening comments on it is the fastest way of flushing out weird edge cases, cross-browser issues, flaky behaviour, and, frankly, any clangers in the product.

    Having the many eyes of the audience on a product is cheaper and faster than regression testing something to the nth degree.

  • People Make Poor Monitors for Computers at Macroeconomic Resilience Airplane automation systems are not the first to discover the truth in the comment made by David Jenkins that “computers make great monitors for people, but people make poor monitors for computers.”
  • Why is the public sector so complex? | Flip Chart Fairy Tales None of this is to say that we can’t make public services less complex and thus more efficient. We can and we should. People have done it. But, however much we simplify public sector organisations, they will always be more complex beasts than their private sector counterparts.
  • SXSW 2012: 8 Crucial Takeaways In comparing the performance of different groups, Wujec found that architects and engineers performed the best (not surprisingly). But the next best-performing group was a big surprise: kindergarten students. MBA students, for their part, performed the worst on average. Wujec concluded that kindergarten students eschewed the planning stage, which MBAs and other groups used to try and establish who's in charge and what to do. Kindergarten students, in contrast, simply experimented over and over until they found a model that worked.
  • John Kay – Of badgers, business, budgets and the evils of expediency Although it is essential that they do, policymakers and business people have difficulty thinking in terms of systems. The common sense of everyday observation has an appeal that analytic, evidential reasoning can never match. We “know” that the sun revolves around the earth. Only from the perspective of the planets as a solar system do we realise that our interpretation of what we see is wrong.
  • Sticky Content | Blog | Online forms: how to get the copy right Filling in a form should be a seamless process that intuitively moves the reader through clearly defined and signposted phases. It should always be obvious where they will go next. A good online form is shaped by a strong visual metaphor that instantly locates the user within the process.
  • Innovation is bounded « niksilver.com On the one hand innovation is about change. On the other, you need a reliable — and therefore pretty fixed — mechanism to ensure that change happens. That means you can only successfully innovate in a pre-defined way.
  • Why Less Isn’t Always More – NYTimes.com A building of few details would seem to be a building of few secrets. But austerity in architecture connotes a visual and functional transparency that it completely fails to provide. Any seamless-seeming building is full of complex joints and junctions, fixes and fudges that make a thousand parts look like a single monolithic, sculptural whole. To look as if you left everything out, you have to sneak everything in. What seems spartan is usually, invisibly, baroque.
  • The joy of pitching – 10 ways to get the job | Sole Trader PR Can you see the thing they need that they don’t even know they want yet? Tell them about it.
  • The Raspberry Pi can help schools get with the program | Technology | The Observer However well-intentioned the thinking behind the ICT component of the national curriculum was, the sad fact is that it has become discredited and obsolete. As a result, educational thinking about the importance of computing and information technology in this country has been stunted for well over a decade. We've taken a technology that can provide "power steering for the mind" (as a noted metaphor puts it) and turned it into lesson for driving Microsoft Word.
  • Sarah Lay » Blog Archive » ReallyUsefulDay – GDS meets localgov While there was complexity in all the journeys looked at today they are, pretty much, ‘light touch’ contact. While we need to improve the digital journey they’re almost the easy wins because they absolutely can be done digitally and contact can be avoided.

    So, when are we going to tackle the tough stuff? When are we going to look at digital’s role in social care referrals or child protection? I doubt that can be wireframed in an hour long session round a flip chart. And the stakes for getting it wrong are much higher. But we need to do it and I think we need to do it soon.

  • What happens when you start Norming before you’ve finished Storming? | Flip Chart Fairy Tales Like many a management team, the EU rushed to Norm before it had properly Stormed. The result, as ever, was collusion, comfortable debate and the avoidance of challenge. For any group, especially one taking such important decisions, the result is likely to be disastrous. There is a warning there for companies, governments and management teams everywhere.
  • Comparing Strategic Planning and Strategic Doing – Ed Morrison’s Garage Strategic Doing represents an agile strategy discipline that is distinctly different from how most of us learned the basics of strategy. Traditionally, strategy in organizations depends on a mechanistic, linear process which we have come to call “strategic planning”.

    This approach does not work very well in complex environments that are continuously shifting. Strategic Doing invites us to do our strategic thinking and action differently.