Is Your Company Designed for Humans? Is Your Company Designed for Humans? The bulk of my work concerns people’s interactions with technology, and my field is currently in a remarkable period of development. Just five years ago, most people used computers and mobile phones through very limited means of input — the tools essentially reduced the people using them to fingers: typing, pressing buttons, mousing, or maneuvering a joystick. Now, with Apple’s iPhone, Nintendo’s Wii, and some less common technologies like Microsoft Surface and even Taco Lab’s Siftables, we’re starting to see a panoply of new ways for people to engage with their devices. Both the iPhone and the Wii-mote contain accelerometers that are responsive to how the devices are held, what angle they’re tilting, how vigorously they’re being shaken. The multitouch display of the iPhone or Surface table allow for more natural movements and interactions, directly with the device, and not mediated through something like a mouse.
 What most excites me about these new means of engagement (which already have amazing successors in university and corporate labs) is that they allow their users to do something that hadn’t been possible five years ago — truly be human. The body is extremely important for human beings, and it’s almost shameful that for so long, such a small part of it was used when working with computers. Mice and keyboards were the product of the Cartesian mentality that mind and body could be separated, that humans could be reduced to brains attached to fingers, eyes, and ears. Research over the last couple of decades has shown that not to be true, that our minds, our thoughts, our emotions are very much the result of an interplay between our brains and our bodies. I know I think better not when sitting, but when given the freedom to move around (if I have to sit, I end up fidgeting). Those thoughts that emerge in the shower are very much the product of immersion in hot water. As I’ve been thinking of this technological revolution, I’ve realized we need an organizational revolution. The organizations many of us work in remind me of the state of computer technology from five years ago: They’re remarkably confining. We’re placed in hierarchical org charts, remnant of railroad and factory operations of the 19th century, and find ourselves in silos that prevent us from collaborating with our colleagues. We’re given job titles with an explicit set of responsibilities, and discouraged to perform outside that boundary.
 We’re discouraged from being too social, from engaging honestly about our emotions, as such behavior is “unprofessional.” We thus leave the office having only engaged a small part of who we are.
 Is it any wonder that most companies deliver such poor customer experiences? They can’t even create a good staff experience, and that’s something they have a higher degree of influence over! The companies that do best in serving others are those that do best in serving themselves. In your business, encourage yourself and those around to do something that’s so simple, it’s truly profound (and maybe a little bit dangerous) — be human. ……………………………………………………


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: