Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The most savage controversies are about those issues for which there is no clear evidence either way. (Bertrand Russell)

Some days, it seems these are the only issues I deal with.  :^(  What’s interesting, though, is that I never seem to come up with these on my own.  

I’m pretty evidence-based. I think it’s rather hard to be a usability engineer for 25 years and not be. More than that, though, it’s just the way I operate. I like nothing more than having my biases disconfirmed. That means I actually learned something that day.

As for the people I work with? Maybe not so much. The execs, the marketeers, and even the interaction designers and information architects on my team don’t always necessarily seem to do things that same way.  

How do they work instead? I think some of them might call themselves “passionate.” Now, that’s all well and good. Sometimes, though, that “passion” can strike others as simply “loudest voice wins.”

Now, I do have to say, that these people genuinely are passionate. They’re also typically pretty darn smart, and know their stuff as well. Finally, they do respect actual evidence. They may just not have any at hand – not that that’ll stop them though.  ;^)

Now, I’m passionate, and smart, and know my stuff too. The role I typically carve out for myself, though, is all that stuff, but subbing out the “passion” and throwing “evidence” in there instead (okay, I tend to be passionate about my evidence). And it’s really amazing how well that works, how that can stop all the conjecture and debate and “savagery” in its tracks.

So, here’s how I typically do that:
  1. Interrupt with some real data that is directly applicable
  2. Interrupt with some real data that is applicable but maybe a little less directly
  3. Start counting on the team to ask me if there’s any data
  4. Have no fear of saying, “I don’t know”
  5. Offer, though, to find out for them
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS

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