2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
July 2014 - Magazine No. 178
July 2014 - Magazine No. 178
Edition:
Written By Nurit Stone

A known rule of thumb in the world of UX is that it's very important to validate and review (both planned and constructed) in cooperation with users. Some approaches, methodologies and even several technologies that assist in this mission all targeted at the same goal: to receive and analyze the response- both conscious and subliminal-provided by the user as a reaction to the screen presented to him/her.

Despite the valuable information gained from validation with users, there are cases in which a UX interface will be validated without contacting the users. Regretfully, the users' time is valuable and limited and as such is not available at all times. Usually, the users are able to invest only very limited time in the project we're working on and therefore we will choose the aspect through which we can carefully actualize this resource and the stage during which we can make the most of the users' time.

During other stages we can utilize a valuable (yet less rare) resource in order to validate a need. The wisdom of the large numbers is another reason that may lead us to choosing a validation without any users, knowing that using a limited amount of users will not lead to exposing all problems and possible failure points which alter according to different usage habits, knowledge levels and tasks.

In this article, we will review three central alternatives for performing a UX validation without users:

  1. Cognitive exhibition: a focused method in which a structured animation of the thinking pattern and actions of people when they use the planned interface. This approach to validation begins with choosing a 'prototype' of users and a central mission which the interface is meant to support. During the next stage a cognitive exhibition is performed throughout the detailed design document or the interface's demo, during which all actions the user may perform/questions the user may ask when perform the task are detailed. Following each description, we present the following questions:
  2. Is this indeed a task the user would want to perform?
  3. Will he/she understand the components (buttons, menus, links etc.) that affect the mission's completion?
  4. Will the user understand the way in which these components affect fulfilling the mission?
  5. After fulfilling the mission, will the user understand the indication he/she receives regarding said performance?

When one of these questions is answered by a story that is either incoherent or unreliable, this is a clear indication of a UX problem. Besides locating weak spots in the planning, this 'exhibition' may assist in exposing flaws in the requirement document (not the interface itself but the manner in which it is described). The cognitive exhibition method especially suits task-oriented projects and projects which include a relatively limited number of tasks in order to analyze all missions in this manner.

  1. Analyzing actions: a method that focuses on analyzing action sequences performed by the users in the interface. This method enables reviewing the time required for a skilled user (as opposed to the cognitive exhibition method which simulates usage of a new user) in order to perform the action sequences and therefore identify the UX planning's weak spots. i.e. "time consuming" spots.

The main problems this method may expose are:

  • Understanding that the user is required to perform too many actions in order to perform certain tasks.
  • Performing the required actions takes too much time
  • Performing the required actions requires too much learning.

Of course, the action analysis method may identify holes in the characterization or things that the interface should perform but does not. It also helps in exposing problems that might evade the eyes of the characterizers due to an overload of details, requirements and subtleties they must deal with.

  1. Illustrative evaluation: Evaluation of known potential point of failure/weakness. This method includes preparing a 'checklist' of all UX rules that may be relevant to all areas and components and performing an analysis of the interface according to said checklist. This concentration of all relevant rules of thumb enables reviewing each aspect of the written plan and serves as an opportunity to refresh the project's point of view. Sometimes, due to some restrictions or the clients' will choose to not operate according to some rule of thumb or popular instruction. Using the checklist and the illustrative evaluation will assist in reevaluating this choice and making it conscious and reasoned.

Besides rules of thumb, it is recommended to include in the checklist also our list of common mistakes and assure that they aren't made in the planned interface. Of course, in order to profit as much as possible from this method, it is recommended to perform the investigation by several evaluators. Unlike other approaches (especially validating by users) these evaluators need to possess early knowledge of the world of UX. Another difference between this approach and others is that it especially suits sites and interfaces that are not process oriented.

 

Since these methods emphasize different aspects of using the interface, it is recommended to merge them and use all three at different stages of planning and constructing the interface. The cognitive exhibition method provides a better understanding of problems which it exposes. Therefore it is recommended to integrate it into the entire development process. When the development of a distinct/substantial part of the interface is completed, it is recommended to perform an illustrative evaluation which serves as a final checklist for the entire project and the actions analysis method when the interface has fully formulated with its complexity visible. Of course, none of the above should be interpreted as a recommendation to quit validating with users rather pointing out the additional contribution made by combining these methods while working with the users.

Reference:

Task-Centered User Interface Design A Practical Introduction, by Clayton Lewis and John Rieman

   

 

Organizations aware of Knowledge Management's role in promoting business success, invest much effort and resources in adapting and conserving the knowledge as well as making it accessible for the relevant target audiences. Recently, this activity has been generating increasing awareness. Yet simultaneously, another field associated with KM is gaining volume and resonance: detecting "knowledge holes" and "knowledge gaps" in the organization and accordingly developing essential knowledge to support work processes. The innovation involved in this exciting case is the use of teamwork to perform tasks.

 

This teamwork focuses on the way, in which knowledge can be shared, methods of developing new knowledge, and leading thinking processes and organizational learning through a collective framework; colleagues, partners or alternatively, workers with different roles and perceptions in the same organizational process. This field is popular due to the belief that an ongoing process of personal meetings between similar and different people creates potential for producing knowledge, solutions and new developments that would not be possible in other organizational platforms.

The professional director which enables to channel, manage and direct the group dynamics and subliminal group processes assists the group in fully reaching their goals in the shortest time and most relaxed ambiance as possible.

 

Knowledge Management counselors specializing in directing groups may assist organizations in promoting the creation of new knowledge in the following ways:

  • Directing knowledge development groups (with an emphasis on work process-supporting knowledge).
  • Directing dynamic professional development (with an emphasis on personal knowledge & professional skills).
  • Courses and workshops teaching knowledge development in groups (knowledge regarding routinely exercising collective processes in the organization).

 

The common denominator of all these solutions is the attempt to plan the process which the team is to experience throughout its lifetime and anticipate the nature of each expected encounter in a manner that will assist the natural processes and leverage them on the road to success. This type of teamwork will therefore attempt to:

 

  • Create an enabling team climate, based on trust and honesty on the road to reaching the collective goal.
  • Understanding the source of malfunctions in the teamwork (moments and periods in which the group stops working and their path diverts far from the goal) and knowing how to solve them.
  • Regarding the group psychology: roles and positions, regard to authority, group defense mechanisms, etc. and guiding the group towards its goal.

 

Study case: the birth of a new knowledge development group

A virtual organization dealing with providing services realized that many of its members share an interest in social networks. These members have a social life managed in social networks beside their professional lives and present professional inquiries and consultations instead of channeling them to the organization's experts.

 

The question that troubled this organization was: how can we channel the use of social networks into the organization and more specifically how can we keep the professional knowledge in the organization instead of diverting it grow elsewhere? In other words, can we successfully merge the personal with the professional and how?

 

Since this knowledge did not exist in the organization and was never previously discussed or monitored, the organization decided to establish a group of colleagues that will attempt to collect and develop knowledge, perceptions and tools on the subject. The defined goal was that the knowledge and personal experience of each group member will be the basis for sharing knowledge and individual experiences, and during the second phase weaving a new organizational technological perception.

Nowadays, the team is still being established. It seems to generate much interest on behalf of the workers, who expressed their will to participate in the knowledge development process.

 

Conclusion

 

As an old saying goes, "with the food comes the appetite". The more the organization experiences with Knowledge Management the more it grows conscious of its importance and the added value that can be provided by potential knowledge. Furthermore, and equally important, the organization recognizes the knowledge gaps and is ready to confront them with teamwork gains not only learning and growing but also the promotion of its workers' feeling of empowerment as well as an enhancement of their satisfaction and sense of belonging and developing a climate fitting a "learning organization".

 

I wish you good luck and a joyful learning experience!

 

Classic BI includes collecting information from different information and operation systems (CRM, ERP…), integrating and processing the information and re-presenting it as a set of organizational indicators supporting the organization's decision making. Social BI is wider and utilizes, beside the classic information sources, also "social" organizational information sources: the organizational social network (such as Yammer or SharePoint MySite), the organizational twitter and other WEB 2.0 tools (communities, blogs, forums, responses, tags etc.).

Click here for an expansive definition of Social BI.

In Social BI, the social indicators are predefined and information is collected, integrated, processed and re-presented as a set of "social" indicators. All of these, together with other organizational indicators, support the organization's decision making.

What's new in Social BI?

Social BI can serve the organization's decision making system also according to the behavior surrounding it. For instance, it is possible to detect social trends followed by customers and unaffiliated interested parties and review mention of the company and its products in worldwide social networks.

 

The social BI challenge

The social BI presents a new challenge to the system's establishers and its characterizers: how do you quantify and measure social information? Unlike business information, which is retrieved from formal systems already structured and catalogued, the social information is retrieved from numerous factors in numerous ways (each social network user can use his/her words) and from various social platforms (a Like from Facebook, Retweeting on Twitter). The Social BI system's properties must define the method by which social indicators are calculated in order to create a uniform consistent language and enable an evaluation comparable over time.

 

What is happening nowadays in Israel?

Although Social BI is frequently discussed, it is rarely implemented by organizations. This is because the social media tools are not widespread yet. The more social tools are used in organizations, so will the importance of Social BI be assimilated.

 

Conclusion

It is my opinion that in the near future we will witness more organizations increasing their use of social media tools, especially social networks, which will (among others) result with a increased use of Social BI.

 

References:

Social BI (published here)

Wikipedia (here)

YouTube videos: (Here, here, here)   

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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