Stakeholder mapping

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On the IA Institute mailing list Patrick Walsh recently asked, “Is Stakeholder Analysis/Mapping a commonly used tool by IAs? It helps to identify all relevant stakeholders at the start of a project and can help ensure that they do not get overlooked.” He also pointed to a 2004 article in Boxes and Arrows by Jonathan Boutelle called Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success.
As long as I’ve been doing IA and related work I’ve understood stakeholder *interviews*, at the very least, to be a cornerstone of the discovery process. I had just assumed this was par for the course. Isn’t this how everyone does it?
Often the challenge is getting beyond the obvious stakeholders and getting access to the external stakeholders. There are a number of techniques for doing this, some qualitative (surveys, focus groups, interviews) and some quantitative (traffic analysis), but often I find that we need to rely on internal people, such as customer-support representatives, as proxies for external stakeholders because they at least have direct contact with them and are aware of some of their most pressing concerns.

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Fast Design = Good Design

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Joshua Porter wrote a terrific article about Netflix and their Fast Iteration process. Since UIE is more of a design and user experience shop, the article focuses primarily on creative designers, but I think that the concepts apply equally to developers. At Extractable, we are always trying to move away from a classic waterfall process and towards a more agile/iterative process with each new project.

So how often does Netflix update its site? Every 2 weeks.

Every 2 weeks they make significant changes. They understand that some of the changes will work, but most won’t.

At first, this sounds like a frustrating design constraint. In talking with the team, we realized that it doesn’t frustrate them at all. Instead, it frees them up to be flexible and adaptive, so they can react effectively to customer needs. As a result, they don’t deal with the many “when we redesign” issues that so many of us deal with in the design world. They’re building for the present — all the time.

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Challenges to innovation

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Scott Berkun writes about Why innovation efforts fail, citing a few common problems (“task forces and committees are separate from the real teams,” suggestions are vetoed, innovation must be a core value and not an add-on). He also identifies a few factors that help innovation succeed (startign with a pilot project, willingness to accept risks, “avoidance of innovation for innovation’s sake”).

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Online project management

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Dan sent me this link to an article on project management at the Ektron website. I especially like the idea of a project blog (or project log, as I prefer to think of it), since to me it seems like the natural way to post updates and circulate information – infinitely preferable to an endless stack of email messages.

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Blogging interview with Extractable strategist

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Suzanne Stefanac is writing a book on blogging called Dispatches from Blogistan for Peachpit/New Riders. Naturally, she’s been blogging the whole process and posting snippets of work in progress and the texts of interviews she’s conducted for the book.
I know Suzanne from The Well, where I host the blog conference and where I’m known as and she’s known as . A while back she interviewed me via email and she recently published the results on her book’s blog: Dispatches From Blogistan