A Change Is Gonna Come, I Know It Will

Old certainties are collapsing around us and the new generation of digital product builders are implementing new ways of making services and products.

Jari P. Ängeslevä

These are fast-changing times. During DPB2017 event, we demonstrated that old certainties are collapsing around us and the new generation of digital product builders, masters of the art of digital crafting, are relentlessly implementing new ways of making services and products. As a matter of fact, they are building a software factory where everything is continuously; streamlined, automated, reported, and executed according to the business needs. Day in, day out. Before anything else, let’s recap a bit to get a better understanding of why things need to change?

 

Situational Awareness

I am pretty sure you can agree with me, that most of you have thought in project meetings that there are too many cooks in the kitchen? Makers of software, from executives to system administrators, PO, BO etc., and they are more aware and generally more informed than ever before in what is a “superior or ultimate” user experience. Designers in different roles and positions now face the reality, that the number of people who have influence in the design process has grown, and continues to do so. This leads to the conclusion, that in the power struggle of design, struggling the hardest is not the solution. Quite contrary. Insightfully orchestrating whom to bring into the design process, when and for how long, is the key for making the best design decisions at the accelerated pace of software releases. For vectors of influence to pull in the same direction, a common shared vision, an understanding of the design framework itself, and the standard of output, are the essential aspects of collaborating effectively.

So far, the standard practices in user experience design have led the entire software industry to be familiar with the notions of empathy, idea validation, research, and testing. In terms of empathy, there is another state of mind we need to develop: situational awareness. First, we need to be aware that we are immersed in the transformative process of how software gets into the hands of our users, which is aligned with the user’s specific needs. We need to be aware of the speed at which the competitiveness of the market requires responsive improvement to be delivered continuously.

Our point of view is, that the skills necessary to produce high quality design for increasingly complex, interactive digital products, requires us to develop; a broader awareness of design, product management, software engineering, automation, and business executive imperatives. In other words, better situational awareness.

 

The Devops Angle

Some of you know, that Eficode is a pioneer in Devops. The Devops movement, that started in 2011, tells the story of how development and operation teams learned to collaborate better, in terms of releasing software updates more efficiently. The movement also discloses the realities of strenuous troubleshooting through all-nighters and sacrificed weekends that took a toll on individuals who knew deep down there had to be a better way.

Quite precisely, it is a classic tale of neighboring teams, departments or tribes that blamed each other for their hardships until finally realizing they in fact shared common objectives, just from different perspectives. The change is inevitable. As it comes to human nature, our change is either motivated by inspiration, or by pain. Alas, more often than not, we change because our pain is too great to endure any longer. Thus, why would a service designer and future digital product builder be so interested in this movement? It’s because the rapidly evolving landscape of software delivery, automation, and tool integrations are influencing the current user experience design practices. Moreover, when designers want to deliver a superior design outcome towards successful user adoption. How departments work together critically matters in a fast-moving digital marketplace.

 

Business is Still Business

We know, that market imperatives are demanding us to increase the velocity of designing the user experience for complex software in rhythm with Agile, which is now evolved into Continuous Delivery practices. Designers should not only adapt, but evolve proactively to continue leading with creative decisions and transform the “power struggle” into the “power of collaboration”. This is the way development and operation teams are doing it in the Devops, as it is part of their culture.

However, resistance to change is strong, but at the same time futile as well. One reason surely is, that our culture has been stewed in capitalist logic for so long that it feels impregnable. As buyers of the talent, you, customers, artificially divide the project into different slots (silos) for outsourcing to optimize costs.This is very much a capitalistic logic. We are already on a level where our instinct is to see it as natural; some even go as far as to deem it as best practice. Perhaps so, but we believe that next practice is here and it’s better than the current one. End-to-end design-delivery process with minimum handovers or other unnecessary breaks in the process is here to stay. We are approaching the point, that we should prioritize the production of digital services over all other things. This is because it has somewhat become the know-how; the natural way humans must organize what they do and how they do it in a digital world.

 

Rinse and Repeat

Not convinced yet? Well, let me reiterate why we need to change. When the capacity for responsive change becomes frictionless and universally available, everyone can approach their work as a continuous service design. In a highly effective digital business, employees focus on continuously transforming empathic listening into action. They conduct their daily work to change existing situations into preferred ones. Moreover, they take it for granted that identifying the gap between current and preferred, and closing that gap, both happen via digital means.

The employees no longer need to step out of the continuous design mindset to translate between service design thinking, as a process, and IT as the means for accomplishing that process. We have reached the level of same mindshare. Our ultimate goal at Eficode is to provide a platform for crafters to do just this. Best tools for best doers in modern software factory environment.

 

One Platform. One Goal. End-to-End.

As silos dissolved, design speed and capacity invariably increased in the same way development teams and operation teams increased their capacity to deliver better software faster. The next frontier is to do so to enable a higher quality of user experience, and most of all, a higher accuracy of execution and in an alignment with user needs.

We veterans of the software industry witnessed how Agile transformed the way we think; Devops the way we collaborate; and now with the teaming of product development and designers, the way we define our software. So, let’s welcome with open arms the new era of Digital Product Builders and the Software Factory model. 

 

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