The Design Mindset (5)

So far, in our investigation of the design mindset, we’ve—

We also considered the problem of interaction surfaces in some detail along the way. This week I want to wrap this little series up by considering the final step in design, act. Yes, you finally get to actually buy some stuff, rack it up, cable it, and then get to the fine joys of configuring it all up to see if it works. But before you do… A couple of points to consider.

It’s important, when acting, to do more than just, well, act. It’s right at this point that it’s important to be metacongnitive—to think about what we’re thinking about. Or, perhaps, to consider the process of what we’re doing as much as actually doing it. To give you two specific instances…

First, when you’re out there configuring all that new stuff you’ve been unpacking, racking/stacking, and cabling, are you thinking about how to automate what you’re doing? If you have to do it more than once, then it’s probably a candidate for at least thinking about automating. If you have to do it several hundred times, then you should have spent that time automating it in the first place. But just don’t think automation—there’s nothing wrong with modifying your environment to make your production faster and more efficient. I have sets of customized tool sets, macros, and work flows I’ve built in common software like MS Word and Corel Draw that I’ve used, modified, and carried from version to version over the years. It might take me several hours to build a new ribbon in a word processor, or write a short script that does something simple and specific—but spending that time, more often than not, pays itself back many times over as I move through getting things done.

In other words, there is more to acting than just acting. You need to observe what you’re doing, describe it as a process, and then treat it as a process. As Deming once said—If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Second, are you really thinking about what you’ll need to measure for the next round of observation? This is a huge problem in our data driven world—

Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the big data world is the recognition that data analysis is not the same thing as question answering.

Being data driven is important, but we can get so lost in being doing what we’re doing that we forget what we actually set out to do. We get caught up in the school of fish, and lose sight of the porpoise. Remember this: when you’re acting, always think about what you’re going to be doing next, which is observing. The more you work being able to observe, think about what you’re going to need to observe and why.