The Challenge of the User Interface

A touch of rhetoric.

In practice, all it takes is a shift, not of your centre of gravity, but in your area of interest. Making the other person’s point of view your primary concern, the cornerstone or the keystone… i.e. your mission goal.

Though, this must flow naturally.

For instance, the HR department must always and automatically take a customer-centric approach because it is, by its very nature, employee centric... the employee being its client and its core reason for being.

Management’s philosophy determines the flavour of a department, a branch, a ministry, an organization or an entire corporation.

First and foremost, striving towards your mission goal (the client, employee, consumer, member, citizen). Your reason for being.

Then comes the aftermath. In other words, the time to judge, to determine and quantify whether and to what extent, the goals have been achieved. In an organization geared towards… this means measuring the degree of satisfaction… the very thing being measured (depending on one's point of view) and whose result is sometimes dreaded.

When Organization X adopts a management philosophy that is Point-of-view centric, and as such aiming for conclusive results regarding the achievement of its mandate or mission, it must be able to assess (measure, quantify, determine) its performance and use satisfaction indicators as pertains to the subjects of said mission.

From a Point-of-view centric perspective, goals achieved = satisfaction.

Satisfaction (according to Wikipedia): “ ... the name given to the state of mind or body that accompanies the fulfillment of a desire or a need…”

The transition from a state of need to one of satisfaction is therefore energized as a process of fulfillment. In management, this fulfillment process is called an experience. The client experience, the employee experience, the citizen experience, the user experience. This is the aftermath.

We have now come full circle.

A Sub-Set of Reality: The IT Project

Let’s transpose this process into the realm of our own concerns. Here’s one example: The ACME company that has an IT project to replace product ABC and implement a new product, XYZ.

It was decided internally at ACME that solution ABC had to be replaced by solution XYZ. ABC had become totally obsolete: a solution that could no longer be built upon, and for which support had become increasingly more difficult to obtain. The catalyst for this decision was the high cost of developing new interfaces. Enough was enough.

The provider assured ACME that product XYZ would achieve the same goals, i.e. goals that reflect the results obtained following actions taken for their solution. Not only would the goals be reached, but they would be surpassed, because solution XYZ offers more than solution ABC... So, the organization decides to proceed, because from IT’s(!) perspective, the demonstrable achievement of its goals, and possibly even surpassing them, completely outweighs any potential risks (read here: effect of uncertainty on reaching their goals…).

Red light.

The priority of the project team: to immediately choose a user-centric approach:

  1. The success of the project will inevitably depend on the users' acceptance of the new solution. No change is possible – let alone profitable, without the buy-in of as many people as possible. #user_satisfaction, #positive_experience.
  2. A consensus must be reached, disseminated broadly, and repeated regularly as to the usability of the new solution (formerly called user-friendliness). According to ISO 9241-11, usability is "the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”

Between the user and the IT solution that enables the organization's goals to be met (and even surpassed), there is, among other things, the user interface. The current user interface represents the user's viewpoint. The future user interface is therefore foresight regarding this same user. Between these two interfaces, there’s a period of time, a project and a change to be managed.

Successful change management, driven from the user's point of view, will unquestionably and significantly influence the user experience in terms of fulfilling their needs. When the user's needs are met, they will be satisfied. Once satisfied, the user will embrace the new solution.

With the widest possible subscription to high-performance tools, it is indeed possible to do more.

The user's point of view must influence the project equation as early as possible in its development. ISO 9241-210: 2018(3.15) defines user experience as the result of the user's "perceptions and reactions [...] that result from the use and/or anticipated use of a product, system or service.”

Do you want to know more about change management and how to communicate with your internal ressources, then allow me to become a reader-centric... Share your point of view... I want to hear from you.

Luc Lachapelle B.A., M.A., M.B.S.I., C.D.I.A., S.S.C.

Director, Strategic Consulting HCM.

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