Notes on Jared Spool’s For an Edge Condition, Seeing the Problem is a Problem

From an 11/24/15 post on by Jared Spool, link here.

Jared defines an edge condition as an instance of system coordination outside the norm that fails

Edge conditions are by nature difficult to actually observe since they are relatively rare and difficult to emulate

One technique Marc Rettig suggests for understanding edge conditions better is a Collective Story Harvest

  • Invite all the project influencers (designers, stakeholders, implementers etc) to a collaborative meeting
  • Also invite storytellers—folks like CSRs, mechanics, agents–anyone who deals with the problem first-hand including customers or users
  • Divide the influencer group into smaller groups, with one storyteller per group
  • Assign each of the influencers a lens to listen through—for example: story narrative, breakthrough moments, principles to learn from the story etc
  • As the storytellers share their story about the edge condition, influencers use their assigned lens to help them improve their empathic listening
  • Then groups of influencers with the same lens compare notes
  • As the stories are told, look for similarities and contrasts, and strong patterns will emerge

All members of the meeting will walk away with a much better understand of the dimensions of the problem and how the systems do or don’t interact well during edge conditions

About Jared M.  Spool (from his post): Thank you for encouraging my behavior! Founder of @UIE. Co-Founder of @CenterCentre. Exploring great user experiences & the wonders of United customer service.

About Marc Rettig (from LinkedIn): I am a founding principal of Fit Associates LLC, a consulting firm based in Pittsburgh. We help teams, companies, and institutions create in complex social situations. We do this in two ways: short or long-term project work, and training and capacity-building through learn-by-doing programs. 



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