Category Archives: Innovation

How UX and Design Can Improve Flying

How UX and DesignCan ImproveI have chalked up a lot of travel miles in my time, and consider myself an expert at navigating an airport. Experience has taught me how to decipher almost any boarding pass, no matter how opaquely designed. That said, I still sometimes struggle with figuring out exactly where to go for a flight, and I know less experienced travelers do. I can’t say how many times have I seen people (usually very elderly or clearly foreign travelers) try to get through security with an itinerary instead of a boarding pass. On the plane, people struggle to accurately identify which seat is theirs (this has even happened to me, recently, to my great shame). Continue reading How UX and Design Can Improve Flying

An Idea is Born: Writing and the Creative Process

An Idea is Born (2)Last week I attended a really cool event: I saw Stephen King interview Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, at Sanders Theater at Harvard University. It was easily the best class I’ve ever attended in that lecture hall, with apologies to my Confucian Humanism professor. The conversation between King and Child was intended to promote the newest Reacher book, Make Me, but ended up covering topics from casting movies based on novels, to understanding cultures where novels are set, to the creative process. Continue reading An Idea is Born: Writing and the Creative Process

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The Law of Unintended ConsequencesUnintended consequences are sometimes happy surprises, sometimes sad disappointments, and sometimes just totally weird. I’m interested in unintended consequences in terms of thinking of organizational systems. Often, unintended consequences pop up when someone focuses only on one aspect of a larger system when making changes. They reveal dynamics that might otherwise be hard to see or understand.

Here are a couple of interesting unintended consequences: Continue reading The Law of Unintended Consequences

Health Coach? Try the Element of Surprise

The element of surprise in action--I bet you didn't know what Abraham Lincoln and adhesive bandages have in common.
The element of surprise in action–I bet you didn’t know what Abraham Lincoln and adhesive bandages have in common.

“Ugh. I already know what you’re going to tell me. Eat less food and get more exercise, right?”

This is common feedback I’ve heard during user testing for the software products I work on. Our coaching programs address various health and lifestyle concerns, and indeed, much of the advice boils down to eating differently and moving more. After all, that is how you lose weight, improve your heart health, control your blood sugar, etc. There’s no magic pill that will let you avoid dietary and activity changes and still get the same health results.

Unfortunately we can lose our users’ interest when the message we deliver is exactly the one they’re expecting to hear. Worse in the case of health behavior, the message is often one they’ve heard before and that has not helped them. “Eat fewer calories” is a lot easier said than done. Users are bored by the same old advice, and they will tune you out as soon as they perceive that you’re dishing it out. Continue reading Health Coach? Try the Element of Surprise

Curating the eHealth Universe on Wired

I have a new blog post up on Wired Innovation Insights called Curating the Universe: Behavior Scientists, Technologists to Shape a Better eHealth Future. It’s another entry in my ongoing battle cry that one size does not fit all when it comes to health and wellness interventions. Not only do different people need different tools, but any single person will need different tools at different times depending on what challenges are in play at the moment.

Photo from Thinkstock--this dude has lots of choices for apps, like we all should.
Photo from Thinkstock–this dude has lots of choices for apps, like we all should.

In my own experience as a consumer, I’ve cycled through a number of different eHealth tools and apps. I’m on a kick right now with Fitbit and MyFitnessPal, which are working pretty well for my current needs. In the past I’ve enjoyed (ok, maybe not quite enjoyed) calorie tracking with the DailyPlate (now part of Livestrong) and marathon training with a Hal Higdon app. I’m sure six months from now there will be a different app on my phone–maybe something for strength training or flexibility. The bottom line is, Continue reading Curating the eHealth Universe on Wired

Big Brother’s in Your Pocket!

OK, I chose the post title just to be alarmist. I don’t really think that wearable and integrated trackers (for example, to count your daily steps) rise to the level of Big Brother. At least, not yet.

I recently posted an entry on Wired Innovation Insights about wearable vs. integrated trackers:

http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/who-will-opt-for-integrated-tracking-over-a-wearable-the#axzz32IYbekM5

There’s been buzz lately with more device-based trackers like Move and Runkeeper’s Breeze that the wearable might be Continue reading Big Brother’s in Your Pocket!

Innovation by Argumentation

I’m hard-pressed to think of any professional work where innovation doesn’t matter. If you develop products, offer services, or any combination thereof, it’s important to work on consistently improving and evolving. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

At the same time, many workplaces, including my own, have a culture of respect that can sometimes limit our ability to debate with one another. That can be a hindrance because argument is actually a good method for creativity. Check out this article about why and how:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669329/dont-brainstorm-argue

One comment on the article points out that argument really takes place post-brainstorm, when some ideas have been generated to discuss. Continue reading Innovation by Argumentation