Monday, February 26, 2007

Is play a functional requirement?

Does the product need play? Is play a functional requirement? [draft]

I have a friend who told me once, if you have a hobby that you really love doing, don't skimp on the tools, supplies, and so forth. If you can't splurge on the things you love, the things that bring you joy; the things that are under your control and choice completely, then what can you?
Do people have hobbies anymore? I talk to people at work, and there are very few who have hobbies just because they love doing the thing. Can people stand to do something that they aren't the best at? If they can't be the virtuoso, it's too frustrating, and they can't bear to do it.

It's in the play, the joy of doing, that we find our spirit; our truth and contribution.
When we play, we tend to get out of our way, and let the stars smile at our genius.
When we play, just as when we experience "beginner's luck", we approach the thing without a preconceived notion of what the outcome is supposed to be. We let it happen. We absorb the experience and we interact with it in the moment.

When we play, we get in touch with that side of ourselves. The side of us that gets out of the way and let Spirit Lead. We are closer to joy, bliss, and peace.

When we design products that builds in an amount of play, do they like the product more? Do they take it seriously? Do they need to take it completely seriously?
Does play as a functional requirement add to the "stickiness" of the product?
[draft --> more to come]

FW: Librarians and Stupid questions

Librarians like stupid questions. As proof check out the Cafe Press offerings that say so:

Best Regards
Robin Jourdan
IT/Enterprise Engineering
(v/f) 313-845-5316

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On being nice: does it lead to passionate users

On being nice: does it lead to passionate users?

The City of Hampton VA Fire & Rescue thinks being nice is such a good thing, they call it out in their mission and values statement: "Delighting Customers, Integrity, Teamwork, Innovation, Professionalism and Being Nice."

In 2003, the Jolt Cola/Software Development Magazine awards gave their top honor to a website that had over a half-million unique visitors each month: Javaranch. Their competition included the likes of BEA, Microsoft, and IBM. They also won the honor again in 2004. How'd they do it? By being passionately, single-mindedly, ferociously committed to enforcing one rule: Be Friendly.
Of course you don't need "friendly" to build large communities of people. But if you want passionate users, it's probably a good ingredient.

Being Happy at Work
There's a myth in business that if you're enjoying yourself you must not be working very hard. Afterall, it's called "work", not "happy fun-time". But anyone who's been in a well-functioning, high caliber organization knows that working with nice people doesn't just make the day pass faster, it actually improves the quality of your work.

In a New York Times Magazine (2004) article, psychologist Maria Losada studied annual review meetings. She found that the most positive teams - the ones with the most co-worker courtesy, humor and respect - scored the highest in customer satisfaction, profitability and internal management.

Let's go one step further: we work hardest (move mountains) for bosses we like and respect most. And we work most effectively with co-workers we trust and admire. In a nice environment, you might take a few minutes each day to tell a joke or discuss a recent film; then you get to the task at hand -- rather than obsessing about how oppressed, exploited, or misunderstood you feel.

Do potential customers notice teams who are nice to each other?
Simple answer: yes. Prospective clients who witness teams who can't presenta united, happy front may wonder if office politics would suck up valuable time and energy that should be devoted to their end-product.

Strengths based management leads to increased profits
The key to a strengths-based approach to managing employees is to help people understand and use their natural patterns of thought, feeling or behavior so they can apply them in a positive and productive manner. With the help of the Gallup Management Journal, enough strengths-based effort ultimately leads to greater profitability for the organization.

Figure 1: Strengths based path to profitability[6]

The Myth of Customer Service
The good news about this, is it isn't a myth. The Golden Rule applies here: treat others the way you would want to be treated. Customers will become repeat customers, a symptom of passion, if they receive a personal service that exceeds their expectations. When that happens and the customer feels a personal connection, the providers also get the benefit of the most valuable kind of advertising: free word of mouth recommendations.

Audi's Design by Service Experience
In the mid-1990s, Audi had the honor of having one of the worst customer service in dealer service bays in the industry. Then, they initiated a new program: Design by Service which used a checklist of known customer satisfaction criteria, e.g. diagnose the problem correctly the first time the customer brings in the vehicle. Audi reinforced the importance of keeping the brand promise by tying substantial bonuses to each Audi Centre’s customer service ratings. Gallup interviewed 60 customers per dealership per quarter, reporting rolling results monthly. After working their satisfaction categories to delight and surprise their customers, the real turning point was captured with the notion: do it consistently. The end result: Audi is now one of the industry's toppers for customer service; and the word of mouth trail is at it's healthiest.

Nice benefits your brain's health
Positive emotions can actually make your brain work better.
In 2004, The New York Times Magazine cited a study in which a group of people all watched a short film. Then, they were asked to interpret a panel of graphics. The people who saw the positive film were able to detect a larger pattern, while those who saw the negative film just saw a bunch of squares. That’s right: Being nice to your employees will not only enhance their morale and loyalty to the company, it will actually make them smarter.

Conversely, being stressed is actually unhealthy for the brain.
A major role of the hippocampus is in memory. It is not unusual for people with prolonged exposure to stress to report forgetfulness and difficulty in learning. A hopeful discovery is that certain portions of the hippocampus can recover once the stress exposure is reversed/removed.

So, should you always be nice? What do you think?

[i] The Power of Nice: Nice Blog -
[ii] Effects of Stress on the Brain -