Archive for April, 2013

Preparing for the big annual user conference

I am in charge of the User Experience Design (UXD) presence at our big annual conference – EMC World, which starts in a week, in Vegas. I am certainly no stranger to user conferences, having attended/presented/done usability tests at 15 Lotusphere conferences and 1 SolidWorks conference. But I’ve never been in charge of the entire UXD presence before.

EMC has several different divisions, and we all get together to create one unified UXD presence at EMC world. I’m the director of one of the divisions – Advanced Software Design – and it has been the division that coordinates the UX from other divisions, so we’re continuing that this year. We have a booth on the trade show floor (aka the pavilion), and a separate usability testing session room. This is new for me – I’ve almost always only had a usability testing session room.

I’m really excited about the booth in the pavilion. In past years it’s been used mainly to get people to fill our surveys. This year, we’ll have a “comment wall” that asks about mobile use, and we’re doing persona validation – we’ll have big posters of our personas and we’ll ask people to read and react and provide additional info on how THEY work – to make our personas more “real.” Here’s a mock-up of what we think the persona exercise will look like in the booth:

Picture of persona exercise
I’m hoping to leverage social media to drive traffic to the booth. It seems to me that the EMC crowd is not as active in user groups as the SolidWorks  customers… nor is the EMC crowd as active on twitter or Facebook… so we’ll see.  When I worked for IBM, tweeting and blogging drove a lot of traffic but, I was working  on products ABOUT social media and collaboration… and now I am not. So we’ll see how it goes.


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Performance appraisals written and delivered….

A few months ago I blogged about writing performance appraisals for people that I hardly know.   I felt a little uncomfortable writing these appriasals since I’d only known my staff for 3 months. But certainly, I have often been on the receiving end of such reviews myself over the years.

Luckily, my predecessor had left written drafts of the reviews. But, as luck would have it, my employer decided to change the format of the reviewes this year, so it was a little harder for me to fit the info I had into new categories.  My folks did a great job at writing up self-reviews (I do admit I really developed an appreciation for people who write well and can make cogent  points…).

So I wrote, I submitted, and then had to deliver all 14 reviews.  Most went well, others less so.  I like to be able to provide specifics – and since I’d only worked with these folks for 3 months, I was not always able to do that. So, in my one on one meetings with each person now, I’ve decided to keep detailed notes on what each person is doing and their various projects . Of course, the mere fact that I’m around this year  will give me more info.

As a former teacher, I find it ironic that most companies  want the performace ratings to be a bell curve. In US education over the past few  years there has been a big push on “no child left behind” and “mastery for everyone” … yet these concepts do not seem to have taken hold in the workplace much .. yet… Course, we’ll see how I feel at review time next year.. assuming, of course, that *I* make it to next year 🙂


April 15, 2013: Patriot’s Day Redefined

Growing up, Patriot’s Day had always been about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem about Paul Revere’s Ride. Over time, it has also been associated with a baseball game at Fenway park and the Boston Marathon.

I grew up in New York, and when I was an adult, having moved just outside of Boston, I was finally able to watch more Patriots’ Day festivities.  The first year that I worked for Digital Equipment Corporation was the first year I had Patriots’ Day off from work. I arose early and followed the re-enactment of the Patriots’ march from Acton (yes, Acton – Henry left out Acton. Maybe it was too far West. Or maybe it didn’t rhyme with enough other things…) through Lexington to Concord.

It was very moving to watch this re-enactment. It brought home the fact that people DIED fighting for our freedom.

Today, On April 15, 2013, “Patriot’s Day” has been re-defined by 2 explosions near the end of the route of the Boston Marathon.   As of today, Patriots’ Day will  be rembered for bombings of innocent spectators and athletes. Yet, we also saw many first responders immediately re-acting to help. We’ve heard of marathon runners who kept running to the hospital to donate blood.  We’ve heard of many Boston area people opening up their homes to shelter the runners who might have no other safe place to go.                           

So this, my friends and fellow Americans, is the NEW Patriots’  Day.  A day when we want to welcome people of every nation and gender to participate in demonstrating that people together can triumph over adversity.