Encouraging Ethics Conversations – May Wrap

In recent years, the harm caused by technology has come under greater scrutiny. Whether at an individual product level, or the ecosystem created by a combination of products. 

  • How can we anticipate and mitigate against harm?
  • Bring an ethical lens into the product design process?
  • And map the potential bias in the systems we create.

If you’re struggling to find an answer, you’re probably not alone. 

After numerous years working in tech companies and startups, Laura Summers identified a lack of tools to facilitate ethics conversations. This led Laura to found Debias.AI, and create Ethical Litmus Tests – a deck of cards with prompts and questions to help reframe a scenario, and apply different lenses during the design process.

We were fortunate to have Laura join our May session, and using the Litmus Tests, take us through an interactive exploration of ethics in product design.

https://twitter.com/summerscope/status/1263290459217989639

Why is it so important?

Making trade-offs is part of designing and building products. But have you ever deeply considered what the impact of those options could be? Do you justify the decisions with yourselves, for the net (or greater) good?

But would you feel comfortable explaining your choices to a close younger relative?

Or what if the user was your elderly grandparent?

By applying these types of lenses, would you change the way you approach these decisions?

How does the Ethics Litmus Test work?

Define the motivator or driver

Describe the problem or scenario. The motivating concern can be either broad (eg, I’ve got a niggling feeling about this outcome), or very specific (eg, what if data was misused). 

Pick a litmus card at randOM

Select a card to help you reframe your view.

Write down your responses individually

With the litmus card in mind, spend a couple of minutes to consider:

  • Opinion: your position to the scenario
  • Questions: if you need to know more information
  • Next steps: action items

Share your responses

  • Compare and contrast your responses. 
  • Are you surprised?
  • Explain your thinking.

Some alternative activities to share your thoughts and responses:

  • The Blind Advocate – pass your response to another participant, and take turns to argue for another person’s opinion. A true exercise in empathy!
  • The Brainstorm – good for bigger groups, share your thoughts on post-its, or a digital retro board (like FunRetro), and then you can sort the responses into themes.

In this session, we all had some practice and fun, as Laura ran through several interactive scenarios with the Litmus Tests. Using the breakout rooms, we were able to discuss each scenario in small & bigger groups.

Resources and Further Reading

Read more about Laura and her work:

Thank you to our host: A Cloud Guru

Thank you to A Cloud Guru for hosting us online again this month. A Cloud Guru’s mission is to teach the world to cloud. We’re hiring

February Wrap-up: Rogue UX

Duncan Macneil thinks UX needs a new approach which immediately puts the focus on the UI, functionality & user experience – and that new approach is absolute fidelity.

Prototype Fidelity

Traditional vs Rogue UX

Traditional vs Rogue UX

Duncan believes you will:

  • save money as it will iron out the bugs & solves problems before developers are brought into the process. For every $1 invested here you save $3 or 5 or 10. Removing a guess is removing development
  • save time by decreasing the back & forth between developers & others in understanding all the requirements
  • save time by encouraging stakeholders to make decisions right then instead of sometime later plus puts focus on the core business decisions
  • be able to generate a buzz amongst the stakeholders as they have something immediately to play with & show off to others (which leads to funding!)
  • bridge the artificial gap between design & development

In conversations with developers, Duncan has asked how long it took to build X and if he were to delete the code, how long would it take to rebuild it – six months vs 1 month since during the rebuild the person knows exactly what they need to do and what problems/solutions were needed.

Since the prototype looks so real, no one in the room is thinking ‘I’ll sort that out later’. It adds a level of fear & panic in stakeholders that they bring up issues right away.

Show your stakeholders the simplest user case & once they leave get into the nitty gritty detailed cases with the people that really care.

If at all possible, hook the prototype up to real live APIs. This is incredibly useful when someone asks about a particular edge case and when running various user scenarios.

How can you do this?

Duncan believes in starting with low fi (paper or balsamiq) then going right to absolute fidelity.

Use your low fi to sketch and make the big changes.

He recommends using a beginning to end process – UI layer from beginning to end, then data from beginning to end. Focus on the UI, data and business rules. Typical functionality around login, backup, reporting do not need to be included (unless of course you’re building a reporting product).

Make it as real as possible! Know the current search is taking 3 seconds to return? Build a delay into your html.

What do you say when stakeholders think the prototype is a finished product ready to launch tomorrow? Talk about the backend items that are needed – security, backup, databases and other technical aspects that need to be built.

What tools are needed?

Having some knowledge of HTML5, Bootstrap, Javascript and Jquery is enough.

Code you need to know

Code you need to know

Duncan also recommended using Balsamiq and Pinegrow web editor.

3 learnings

3 learnings


If you are interested in continuing the conversation, join Duncan’s list at http://uxrogu.es/ or check his site.

Thanks Thoughtworks for hosting us!

Thanks to Fiona Knight & Richard Burke for helping pull together this summary!

Mapping Experiences – Session wrap-up

Thanks to Aconex, UX Melbourne and the UX Design Group of Melbourne for inviting Jim Kalbach out to Oz and pairing with us to host this event.

Jim is the author of 2 books: Designing Web Navigation and his latest Mapping Experiences. Our focus for the evening was mapping experiences.

Currently, Jim works at MURAL which helps teams design together when they are working remotely. He started out as a librarian, moved into the information architecture direction – which finally landed him in the UX space. He spent some time at Citrix leading with the design experience across the SaaS communications cloud.

 

[pullquote]”Start with the customer experience and work back to the technology, not the other way around” Steve Jobs, 1996[/pullquote]

Getting the Apple reference out of the way early :-), Jim talked about the need for the customer to come first with everything you do which will in turn create value for the business. Steve Jobs wasn’t the first to talk about this concept though as Jim shared a reference from Theodore Levitt.

[pullquote]that businesses will do better in the end if they concentrate on meeting customers’ needs rather than on selling products.” Theodore Levitt, 1960[/pullquote] In 1960, Theodore coined the term ‘Marketing Myopia’ and talked about the value comes from the customer.

With the scene set for customer focus, Jim took us through his four principles.

  1. Survival requires a reversal in business thinking: start with the experience and creates value from there.
  2. The aspiration of design should be more than “delight”. We help re-align the business perspective by visualising (actual) value.
  3. Mapping experiences leverages our design skills to become facilitators and grass roots leaders in the organisation
  4. Shift your measure of progress from generating and testing ideas to validated learning about your riskiest assumptions.

Survival requires a reversal in business thinking: start with the experience and create value from there.

Maps help with visualising value.

A beautiful example Jim used showed the process of buying a house, mapped out by Sofia Hossain. Sofia uses a circular style for her visualisations which really stands out. This style also shows the contribution of external vs internal activities

Most of the experiences a customer has will repeat themselves. There may be a long time between buying your first house til the next time but the cycle starts again in the same way each time.

An example of her work on planning events is here. .

The individual and the organisation overlap by a certain amount and that overlap is where the “exchange of value” occurs. This set of interactions or touch points is where it can all go marvelously wrong or beautifully right. If you don’t understand what these are you can only keep throwing solutions at symptoms instead of fixing the problem permanently.

This is where Alignment Diagrams become are great. They’re useful and important to help you understand these points of interaction plus help you communicate the situation to others in your organisation. Use them to help build brilliant products & to communicate what needs to be involved to resolve problems faced by the customer.

A couple of examples of different ways to do customer experience maps included mental models (Indi Young) and spatial maps (Paul Kahn), but anything that makes it visual and drives conversation falls into the group of alignment diagrams. 

The aspiration of design should be more than “delight”: We help re-align the business perspective by visualising (actual) value.

The designer needs to be a facilitator for a broader conversation in the organisation.

You are driving all the steps: 

  • Initiate
  • Investigate
  • Illustrate
  • Align
  • Envision

 An experience map by being visual and drawn together in a collaborative way becomes a “campfire that draws people in” to talk and huddle over. This metaphor is particularly powerful to remember the purpose of these efforts and a reminder that if a team is working on a map but it is hidden away in a room where no one can see it, then it isn’t doing its job.

One has to follow through with the information gathered and run experiments to prove a solution will work. It is pretty easy these days to prototype, test and thus learn. Be careful with your definition of MVP…..

Again a process to encourage Empathy, expand out to Envision, converge again as you Evaluate and then Plan experiments to learn.

Mapping experiences leverages our design skills to become facilitators and grass roots leaders in the organisation.

An organisation already has more than enough ideas. Ideas are overrated and assuming the best idea will just rise to the top is not owning the outcomes. To find the kernals within ideas that are worthy of being implemented, you need an active process. Use a hypothesis format to ensure concepts are properly tested & evaluated. The structure below starts with ‘we believe’ as it sets the stage to help remind youself that you don’t know.

We believe providing [individual, customer, user] with this [feature, solution, service] will result in this [desired outcome].We will know this when we see [measurable result].

Shift your measure of progress from generating and testing ideas to validated learning about your riskiest assumptions.

Jim’s last point is a good reminder! Often we focus on “proving out” ideas and concepts and possibly we are just adding to our confirmation bias – whereas what we really want to know is what we don’t know!

Thanks again to Aconex for putting on a fabulous event and coordinating this fantastic opportunity!

Jim’s slides:

 

RSVP for our next event on April 14th – Roadmaps: Friend or Enemy?