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Much has been written about the right (or wrong) ways of choosing and changing Twitter handles. The fact of the matter is, if you live on the web and you consider Twitter one of your main lifestreams, changing what amounts to your virtual footprint is significantly more complex than it may appear. In my case, I did not entirely switch my twitter ID, I simply added a second one to differentiate between my corporate and individual personas.
My only previous twitter handle, @ampli2de, reflects the name of my boutique UX consultancy. And while it still serves its purpose very well (ex. it was recently listed in the PeerIndex UX 500 list of most influential UX professionals active in social media), I have always struggled to separate UX/business tweets than those of a more of a personal opinion (following up with individual conversations, random UX thoughts, engaging UX big brains etc).
The truth of the matter is, I've been thinking about creating a somewhat more intimate personal brand for a little bit over a year now, but I didn't want to settle for second rate domain name or a non-matching Twitter ID. And after stalking Twitter for over a year, and hoping that they would do as they say on their fine print and release unused handles, a couple of weeks ago, it finally happened. My attempt to register it actually went through cleanly.
My personal (and most likely still very UX oriented tweets) will now be originally broadcasted using the Twitter handle @corneliux. In many cases @ampli2de will pick up those that are of general interest and vice-versa, but I am hoping @corneliux will be a more intimate avenue to engage with me on the web.
As some of you may be aware (my obsessive tweeting on this very subject during the two weeks leading to the event attests to this) the Ottawa UX community at-large is about to have an official gathering on Nov 27, 2010. Titled UXcamp Ottawa, the event is a one-day professional conference organized by a few volunteers that will combine both planned and unplanned (unconference-type) sessions.
In the spirit of the ever-popular barcamp model, the goal of the event is to bring people who are interested in creating better user experiences together, in an environment conducive to learning, sharing, open conversation and community building. The topics of discussion will include the usual suspects: user experience, user research, usability, information architecture, interaction design, service design, etc. But what you may not know is that UXcamp Ottawa follows in the footsteps of a few similar events worldwide (Washington, Berlin, London, Florence, Prague, Kiev, Seoul) and is also preceeded by three other Canadian dates.
There is a lot of love out there for the symbiosis between Agile and UX these days. More often than not, companies that are using the likes of Scrum or XP (eXtreme Programming) as their software development methodologies are including user experience professionals as part of their delivery teams. So why am I writing yet another blog post about this very topic? Well, from my experience, this marriage doesn't work quite as smoothly as advertised...
The acceptance of user experience in agile organizations is a relatively new concept. Being able to quickly research, perform IA work (typically task flows, wireframes and sitemaps), create high-fidelity prototypes, perform UT (usability testing) for a story and then be able to serve it up to software developers is enticing to every development manager out there. And while this concept may work from a theoretical perspective, when it comes to execution and deadlines, it quickly becomes very clear that if the team falls behind, there are typically two areas that suffer: user experience and scope (and ultimately quality). Development managers are delivery driven (rather than quality driven), and for them delivery means one thing: code. As a user experience professional working in an agile environment, how many times did you hear a development manager telling you that you no longer have time to spend with the end users for user research, and that those deliverables (be it wireframes or high-fidelity prototypes that are required by developers for a particular story) are now due in less than 24 hrs or even worse, not needed altogether because the functionality is fairly simple and the developers will be able to go straight to code without them?
In my career, navigating the extent of my involvement within agile teams has sometimes been rocky. Yet at this point, looking back at projects ranging from the success stories to those that were quite simply narrowly avoided disasters, two distinct themes have emerged, and are going to be the focus of this article.
The term 'intrapreneur' is not a novelty in the business world. It's been around for 25 years and is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as "a person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk taking and innovation". The idea is gaining a lot of traction these days in the corporate world, with companies like Google and 3M allowing their employees to spend up to 20% of their time incubating their own side ideas. In government however, spending time on rethinking a process or product while working around bureaucracy is a notion that is typically frowned upon.
Governmental bureaucratic structures typically enforce compliance with rules and procedures and can kill new ideas because innovation often requires challenging the status quo or questioning long-held assumptions that may have worked well in the past. Furthermore, cultivating innovation is an evolutionary process and cannot be done overnight. Trial and error, experimentation without taking on undue risk, and adaptation to change should be concepts in the arsenal of every PS employee especially given the government's newly adopted PS renewal mantra. In this day and age, intrapreneurship seems to be the only cost-effective way governments can quickly replicate successful internal and external innovations, by adapting them to local contexts instead of always trying to reinvent the wheel.
The April 11 edition of the Ottawa Citizen published a story called PS must embrace Web 2.0 tools citing Clerk of the Privy Council Wayne Wouters’ call for "collaboration, innovation and better use of technology" in the Canadian Public Sector. If anyone bothered to read the (mostly negative) comments of the story, they would realize that such ‘call to arms’ articles simply do not resonate with the Canadian public, especially in difficult economic times for those currently underemployed or unemployed in the private sector.
Is His Clerkiness (my term of endearment for all things Wayne Wouters) right? The answer is 'Absolutely!' (although based on his usage pattern of social media tools to this point my own evaluation would be that His Clerkiness himself still doesn’t have a clue as to what to do and how to engage, but hopefully he’s learning and that is commendable in its own right). But when it comes to the public, I think they are sick of impersonal press releases and newspaper articles that do not bother to do any research or provide relateable information. This type of article and press release may work internally because someone who is essentially the CEO of Federal Government employees pushes down a communication piece to his team, but at the end of the day, this only means a waste of printing paper when it comes to the public at large. I would make the argument that the public would likely respond much more positively to case studies or examples of how web 2.0 and social media tools used within the public sector are directly or indirectly improving the lives of public servants and citizens.
As a private person, I use social media tools (almost) daily. It makes sense for me to do so, mainly from a networking and research point of view. The internet is a huge repository of valuable information and I need social media users to point out the more popular resources that I may be interested in. I also am able to connect with thought leaders in my domain without having to fly to San Francisco, New York and LA and introduce myself during a professional conference. Social media saves me time and money, and it helps expanding my professional network.
accessibility branding business canUX community conference design GoC CLF marketplace ottawa privacy project management public sector research security standards TEDx thoughts usability user experience user interface UX tools UXcamp wireframes
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