SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] We could just use whiteboa
Re: [Sigia-l] We could just use whiteboards instead.
From: Adrian Howard (adrianh_at_quietstars.com)
Date: Mon Aug 18 2003 - 10:23:27 EDT
On Monday, August 18, 2003, at 12:20 am, Listera wrote:
> "Adrian Howard" wrote:
>> How about:
>> - three people using it at once?
> If all three people are *simultaneously* messing with post-its and
> gum, then there's more than mayhem going on in that room. :-)
I like to demonstrate different possible site groupings with index
cards. In a recent meeting myself and client1 were busy moving cards
around discussing the advantages and disadvantages of different
options, while client2 was busy writing a bunch of new cards (to
illustrate another part of the organisation that had been omitted from
earlier discussions) and throwing them in our direction.
Three people being productive at the same time. I find it hard to
imagine the same level of interactivity and involvement with two people
kibitzing as I fiddle with OmniGraffle - especially since client1 and
client2 were working in parallel.
A couple of years back I would have been presenting different design
options with hardcopy or a projected presentation. I changed to index
cards because I can get clients far more involved and get feedback far
> To equivalent of creating a post-it and moving it about the screen in
> drawing app can be taught to anyone with 17 functioning brain cells in
> 2.73 seconds, and that's pretty much all you can do with a post-it, so
> not exaggerate.
I don't think I am - you must get more computer literate clients than I
I can get a client up and running with index cards or a white board in
the time it takes me to put a pen in their hands.
With Visio or similar it will take a good hour for them to become
reasonably comfortable and several days for them to become fluent.
Maybe I'm a bad teacher. Maybe I have exceptionally idiotic clients.
In any case I would find it hard to justify forcing my clients to learn
a new tool in order for them to be involved in the design process.
> But this is really not about the technicality of generating charts,
> etc. It's the approach to working...
Indeed - more on this in a minute ;-)
> ...and as I previously stated here, I don't spend much time with
> and other pre-industrial age contraptions, mostly because the
> goal here is not origami but a fully functional *digital* (synthetic)
I'm sorry - I'm not sure I understand your point. You seem to be saying
that digital tools are better because our end product is digital -
If I'm not misunderstanding your point I find this odd. It wouldn't
make my work practices any better if I moved all my analog face-to-face
meetings to IRC channels just because they're digital - would it?
My goal is a good intranet, website or application. A Visio diagram (or
whatever) is no more an intranet, website or application than a
whiteboard or index card is.
They're just tools. Tools than can be used badly or well. Tools that
have advantages and disadvantages.
I use whatever tools and practices I find make me most effective at
reaching my goals. In many situations I have found my work practices
better supported by tools like index cards and whiteboards than by
diagramming applications and databases. Familiarity, ease of use, etc.
is often more important to me and the people I work with than edit
history, freedom from geographic constraints, etc.
I don't use these tools on a whim - I use them because I find my
clients like them and projects get completed more effectively.
In many cases I have moved from digital models and work practices to
analog ones because I have found the latter more effective. So much
more effective that I invest time trying to prevent situations that
force the use of digital tools before they are required (e.g. by
recommending against multi-site development teams).
Of course I also use digital tools and models - but only when they're
needed. The more tools and practices I have in my bag the better -
digital or analog. Then I can always find the most appropriate tool for
the job at hand.
> To repeat, again, the objective here *is* to create a *digital* (shiny
> technical) toy. We're not contemplating print, sculpture, cooking,
> where the end product is analog/physical. A web app runs on computers
> from server to client.
I keep finding these humans involved in my web applications (defining
business plans, running the company, writing content, meeting customer
orders, talking to customers, etc. :-)
> So it comes down to how you work. If I'm tasked with doing the
> IA/UI/etc, I
> consider myself a funnel through which all related activity go
> through. I
> engage everyone concerned often individually and, occasionally, in
> groups, but very rarely in large groups, collaboratively playing with
> post-it and chewing gum in a room. To me, that almost sounds like
> of my duties/homework.
I think that this is probably the primary difference. We have
completely different work practices. In my book any "funnel" individual
in a project is a bad thing since it instantly reduces the bus-number
of the project to one. In my experience funnels lead to conflict and
tedious sessions of office politics as the IA, UX, usability,
developer, DBA, MBA top-dogs fight it out to see who gets to be most
I'm assuming your experience has been different :-) Obviously if funnel
behaviour works for you then go for it! However its not the way I like
I consider myself a member of a team developing a product. I love
collaboration (not committee work). I prefer generalists to
specialists. I love big, public, accessible information sources like
whiteboards and index cards so everybody involved in the development
team can get at the information they need quickly and easily. I love
tools and models that my stakeholders, clients and users can all
understand. I love all of this because, in my experience, it makes
clients happier and produces better products. As ever, your milage may
Am I a sad old tree-hugging hippy? Possibly ;-)
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:51 EST