Friday, April 05, 2013

Topsight > Getting to topsight in your organization

Earlier this week I wrote a guest column on topsight for Life and Letters, a magazine published by UT's College of Liberal Arts. In particular, I discussed how organizations develop incompatible solutions that exacerbate systemic problems:

People are constantly “hacking” their work, grabbing unofficial solutions from other parts of their lives in order to solve their problems, increase their capabilities and lessen their work. When they do this, they inject some much-needed flexibility into the system—they find ways to route around the limitations and improve the capabilities of what could otherwise be an inflexible, one-size-fits-all system. That sticky note or list is sometimes the hidden linchpin of their work—the thing that allows them to productively use the database, coordinate with coworkers or track their tasks. 
That’s the good news. But the bad news is that these ad hoc solutions can block information flow, precisely because they are so customized.

Beyond that bad news, there's good news too. You can achieve topsight into the organization, figuring out how to identify ad hoc solutions—and understand what they're trying to solve. If you're trying to figure out how to apply topsight, or how to explain it to others in your organization, take a look.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Topsight > How Fredrik is using Topsight

We're wrapping up our discussion of Topsight on Inkwell, and Fredrik Matheson was kind enough to discuss how his team is using Topsight at Bekk Consulting. Click through to see the whole comment, but here's a part that I wanted to pull out:

That's why we bake Topsight into our process and use it in the right context. We're lucky – most of our teams work at the clients' locations for months or years, so getting access to the right people isn't *too* hard. Our interviews are aimed at the micro- and meso-level details of the work, not the work culture itself. We're looking for disruptions and breakdowns – stuff *we* can fix – and if we uncover a problem that has more to do with how things are organized, what kinds of people are hired, the incentive structures and so on, we hand that over to our clients. 
Topsight also lends itself well to people-and-process-intensive projects like intranets, collaboration tools and case management.
I hope *everyone* working on tools for sharing and collaborating and in Enterprise 2.0/social business projects will read Topsight. We can't make things work better if we don't understand how they work. 

Yes. Yes. Topsight is not a substitute for usability testing, prototyping, or other well-used approaches, but it does pull together details that those other approaches don't. It represents another tool in the toolkit, one that UX teams can use in the right situation. More thoughts at the link.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Topsight > Upcoming seminars in Austin

I've been excited about opportunities to discuss my new book Topsight, which describes how to get a big-picture view of an organization so that you can diagnose and fix information flow issues. These issues plague just about every kind of organization.

Reading the book will help you get your head around the approach I use. But you can get much more hands-on practice if you come take my seminars. I'm offering two this summer through the Information Institute:

Both seminars are going to be a lot of fun. For more, click through, and don't hesitate to contact me with questions.