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Oct 03 2017
User Friendly

The phrase, “user friendly” means different things to different people.

For some, it means that a device, or a user interface for that device, is easy to use and perhaps even attractive. It often means simple, in contrast to “stuffing all the features we can into the software and then making it tolerable to navigate.”  It’s about user experience.

We touch on this topic when we discuss Tools & Resources (Box 2) in Performance Thinking® programs.  We emphasize the need to test and refine tools, job aids, software, processes, and other enablers that people use as they work, to ensure that they are easy to use. The ideal is for tools and resources to be intuitive, so that new users can begin taking advantage of them with little or no instruction.

In organizational performance improvement, we seek processes that are frictionless and tools that help people produce needed outputs with as little effort as possible.  These days, when people use so much technology to access information and get their jobs done, and when so much of the contact between organizations and their customers depends on technology, user friendly tools and resources are mission critical.  Users give up on web sites or customer service processes that are difficult or time-consuming. We all dislike web sites that are not intuitive. We rail against processes that waste our time or impose obstacles.  We hate tools and resources that are not user friendly, and they can make the difference between excellence and mediocrity, even between success and failure in many cases.

In Performance Thinking® programs, user friendly models and language play a central role.  Six Boxes Performance Thinking has evolved over the course of several decades during which we have continuously simplified our models and language to allow rapid and relatively easy communication and collaboration about human performance and the factors that influence it.  People at all levels and in all functions can use our models and plain English language.

We often say that our entire methodology is embodied in two simple visual models and 21 plain English words. The Performance Chain provides a basis for analyzing and describing performance, and the Six Boxes Model integrates all variables that influence behavior.

Our entire methodology, and applications that we teach performance consultants, leaders, managers, and coaches, rely on these simple models. In organizations that adopt our programs, “viral” diffusion of Performance Thinking® models and language is common – both spontaneously, and because we encourage it in recommended implementation and communication strategies. The compelling insights embedded in these models are appealing and intuitive for people, quite the opposite of the big hairy methodologies and visual “systems models” that characterize much of applied behavior science and performance improvement.

I’m currently preparing an invited presentation for an international conference next year (to be announced in coming weeks) that focuses on simplicity as a key element in effective communication. The session title will be Simple Is Better: Helping Ordinary People Apply Behavior Science.  I plan to reflect on over 40 years of my own work attempting to integrate complex bodies of research and information into simple models, messages, and methods. I’ll highlight a book that I first encountered some years ago about how Steve Jobs incorporated simplicity and elegance at many levels in his leadership at his two companies, Apple and NeXT.  Insanely Simple is a quick read and very much worth the time.

Performance Thinking models and language push back on typical organizational complexity and dis-integration when it comes to leadership, management and performance improvement.  We offer the Six Boxes Practitioner Program for staff in various departments, and our Coach-Manage-Lead programs for those in line management and leadership.

We provide a common language and simple models to make continuous performance improvement, and talent development, more user friendly and readily applicable across entire organizations.

Stay tuned as we find more organizations to take this step. Please let me know if you’re interested in exploring the possibilities.  We’re looking forward to our 9th Annual Six Boxes Summer Institute where we will report back on the impact of our work in those organizations over time.

- Carl Binder, CEO

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