Mentoring Collaborative UCD

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Information about Mentoring Collaborative UCD

Published on November 28, 2007

Author: PatrickKennedy

Source: slideshare.net

Description

The benefits of mentoring in user-centred web design. Presented at OzCHI 2007 in Adelaide.

Mentoring Collaborative User Centred Design OzCHI, Adelaide November 2007 Patrick Kennedy, Step Two Designs

User Centred Design can be hard enough, but what if you and your team have no experience?

Mentoring collaborative UCD User-centred web design can be hard enough But what if… you and your team have no experience ? that team is new and still bonding? your organisation expects prompt solutions? hiring a team of experts is out of the question? What if all of these were the case? Addressing this situation tends to be dominated by: Outsourcing to consultants Hiring of contractors Up-front formal training (before commencement) Mentoring offers an alternative approach with many benefits

User-centred web design can be hard enough

But what if…

you and your team have no experience ?

that team is new and still bonding?

your organisation expects prompt solutions?

hiring a team of experts is out of the question?

What if all of these were the case?

Addressing this situation tends to be dominated by:

Outsourcing to consultants

Hiring of contractors

Up-front formal training (before commencement)

Mentoring offers an alternative approach with many benefits

Agenda The next 15 minutes will Discuss collaborative information architecture Outline the context of my experience (redesign of a large government website) Focus on mentoring in a teamwork situation Entice you to read my paper Offer mentoring as a possible solution for you to consider Allow some questions, if we have time

The next 15 minutes will

Discuss collaborative information architecture

Outline the context of my experience (redesign of a large government website)

Focus on mentoring in a teamwork situation

Entice you to read my paper

Offer mentoring as a possible solution for you to consider

Allow some questions, if we have time

Case study: government agency who did not have the skills to fix a website that was out of control

Case study: ESA government website ESA is an Australian government agency that deals with scientific data Large information-rich website (approx 20,000 pages plus many applications) Coordination is improving but website reflects organisational silos Been through several design iterations in the past (typically outsourced) The website has grown out of control Technical side of website taken care of (by IT department) But few skills in UCD and IA They recognised there was little knowledge of the audience Major redevelopment initiated, including the IA There was no formal team for the website redesign, so one was newly formed Team included staff from different parts of ESA, and was multidisciplinary Little experience in working together, and varying levels of experience in web Limited resources available and reasonable pressure to complete work quickly

ESA is an Australian government agency that deals with scientific data

Large information-rich website (approx 20,000 pages plus many applications)

Coordination is improving but website reflects organisational silos

Been through several design iterations in the past (typically outsourced)

The website has grown out of control

Technical side of website taken care of (by IT department)

But few skills in UCD and IA

They recognised there was little knowledge of the audience

Major redevelopment initiated, including the IA

There was no formal team for the website redesign, so one was newly formed

Team included staff from different parts of ESA, and was multidisciplinary

Little experience in working together, and varying levels of experience in web

Limited resources available and reasonable pressure to complete work quickly

Mentoring has many advantages and a mentor is an extremely valuable asset for any team

Mentoring has many advantages It builds the skills of the team whilst allowing progress Practical skills and team confidence are developed early Contractors and consultants are expensive and leave the team without the skills to maintain or further develop the site Trying to learn , then do, takes much longer and risks quality Mentoring is more interactive and well suited to adult learning principles Mentoring is often overlooked , perhaps seen as old fashioned Anybody been involved in mentoring of some sort?

It builds the skills of the team whilst allowing progress

Practical skills and team confidence are developed early

Contractors and consultants are expensive and leave the team without the skills to maintain or further develop the site

Trying to learn , then do, takes much longer and risks quality

Mentoring is more interactive and well suited to adult learning principles

Mentoring is often overlooked , perhaps seen as old fashioned

Anybody been involved in mentoring of some sort?

Mentoring hit the spot in terms of achieving project objectives within present constraints

Mentoring was the best approach There was A limited budget for the project Recognition of the need for ongoing website development A desire to build up skills of team Thus, there was hesitation to rely on outsourcing But needed to make progress fast , with best results Mentoring was the chosen solution

There was

A limited budget for the project

Recognition of the need for ongoing website development

A desire to build up skills of team

Thus, there was hesitation to rely on outsourcing

But needed to make progress fast , with best results

Mentoring was the chosen solution

Flexible mentoring agreement Our mentoring agreement allowed for Training sessions (focussed on key concepts) Phone support (quick reference and advice) Collaborative workshops (mentor blends into team) Targeted pieces of consulting A gradual shift from training sessions to workshops Providing some instruction but quickly putting the team into action, practicing what they had learnt

Our mentoring agreement allowed for

Training sessions (focussed on key concepts)

Phone support (quick reference and advice)

Collaborative workshops (mentor blends into team)

Targeted pieces of consulting

A gradual shift from training sessions to workshops

Providing some instruction but quickly putting the team into action, practicing what they had learnt

More than just training, mentors provide guidance and help point the team in the right direction

Mentors guide and offer direction More than just teach , mentors must act as a guide Instilling confidence , such that they could do the work but also gain traction within the rest of the organisation Encouraging discussion amongst team members Starting with the broad concepts and then narrowing in on specifics Role of a recommender very important (filtering and qualifying) Many teaching aids were used Books Articles Blogs Websites In these days of information overload, mentors should help simplify

More than just teach , mentors must act as a guide

Instilling confidence , such that they could do the work but also gain traction within the rest of the organisation

Encouraging discussion amongst team members

Starting with the broad concepts and then narrowing in on specifics

Role of a recommender very important (filtering and qualifying)

Many teaching aids were used

Books

Articles

Blogs

Websites

In these days of information overload, mentors should help simplify

Mentoring does have some constraints but with some juggling they can be overcome

Mentoring constraints Subject to availability of mentor Adding to the pressure was the fact that the mentor was based inter-state (ESA in Canberra, Step Two Designs in Sydney) Limited face-to-face contact between mentor and team This was reserved for training sessions and workshops Additional discussion made use of phone and email Less than ideal , ultimately it proved successful Fortunately, the ESA team were all geographically close Requires mentorees to do bulk of work (can be seen as risk) Depends on a good rapport between mentor and team

Subject to availability of mentor

Adding to the pressure was the fact that the mentor was based inter-state (ESA in Canberra, Step Two Designs in Sydney)

Limited face-to-face contact between mentor and team

This was reserved for training sessions and workshops

Additional discussion made use of phone and email

Less than ideal , ultimately it proved successful

Fortunately, the ESA team were all geographically close

Requires mentorees to do bulk of work (can be seen as risk)

Depends on a good rapport between mentor and team

There are several ‘tips of the trade’ for those considering mentoring in this type of situation

Findings A new team can successfully collaborate on complex design activities in which they have little expertise, with the help of a mentor Mentoring is not necessarily just training Mentors end up talking a lot; but being able to ask questions is possibly the most valuable part from the team’s perspective An in-house mentor would be generally more effective

A new team can successfully collaborate on complex design activities in which they have little expertise, with the help of a mentor

Mentoring is not necessarily just training

Mentors end up talking a lot; but being able to ask questions is possibly the most valuable part from the team’s perspective

An in-house mentor would be generally more effective

The issue of time How much of the mentor’s time is taken up? 5% of the working week, up to approx 90% peak Overall increase in project time If team inexperienced this will be substantial But mentoring is quicker than training before starting Delays due to mentor unavailability This is an issue, especially if the mentor is not in-house But can be beneficial, forces team to stretch themselves and build confidence

How much of the mentor’s time is taken up?

5% of the working week, up to approx 90% peak

Overall increase in project time

If team inexperienced this will be substantial

But mentoring is quicker than training before starting

Delays due to mentor unavailability

This is an issue, especially if the mentor is not in-house

But can be beneficial, forces team to stretch themselves and build confidence

Feedback after the project Consequences of up-skilling “ It’s unusual that the organisation would want to build up the skills of the team” “ Yeah but the problem is that once you train them up, they will leave and get an IA job” Yes, but not an exclusive issue for mentoring Long term sustainability “ How sustainable is it? Have the mentorees become mentors and champions of UCD?” Yes (‘train the trainer’ ripple effect)

Consequences of up-skilling

“ It’s unusual that the organisation would want to build up the skills of the team”

“ Yeah but the problem is that once you train them up, they will leave and get an IA job”

Yes, but not an exclusive issue for mentoring

Long term sustainability

“ How sustainable is it? Have the mentorees become mentors and champions of UCD?”

Yes (‘train the trainer’ ripple effect)

Conclusion Mentoring can be a superior alternative to outsourcing, using contractors and up-front training It’s often more cost effective Allows immediate progress while ensuring quality Builds internal skills and ensures long-term capability Perfect for inexperienced teams with limited time/budget Flexible solution, allowing many different activities Guidance and direction are key roles of a mentor Face-to-face is best, but workarounds can be found Demands on mentor’s time is not excessive

Mentoring can be a superior alternative to outsourcing, using contractors and up-front training

It’s often more cost effective

Allows immediate progress while ensuring quality

Builds internal skills and ensures long-term capability

Perfect for inexperienced teams with limited time/budget

Flexible solution, allowing many different activities

Guidance and direction are key roles of a mentor

Face-to-face is best, but workarounds can be found

Demands on mentor’s time is not excessive

Thank you Original paper is on the conference proceedings CD Your feedback is most welcome Patrick Kennedy [email_address] Blog: www.gurtle.com/ppov/ Website: www.steptwo.com.au

Original paper is on the conference proceedings CD

Your feedback is most welcome

Patrick Kennedy [email_address]

Blog: www.gurtle.com/ppov/

Website: www.steptwo.com.au

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