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Sept. 24, 2021

E219 - Can mental maps help with problem solving?

Recorded live on September 23rd, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Barry Kirby.

| Recorded live on September 23rd, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Barry Kirby.

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Welcome to human factors yeah your weekly podcast for human factors psychology and design. Hey what's going on everybody in this episode 219 we're recording this live on September 23 for me in September 24 for a special guest and this is human factors cast under both Nick Rome and I am joined today by the man the myth the legend Mr berry Kirby. Thank you very much it's great to be here thanks for the invite so bear you're you're the host of 120 to the human factors podcast so this is what we would like to consider the greatest crossover of all time how you doing. I'm ready well yes is the when ball cusk collide this is amazing. No yeah I think it's fantastic the thought that yes we did you put gas in the same domain but actually we can come together just like a few of our active practitioners should. For the greater good so no I I'm going great it's the fact it's. Wait it's early for me because this is gonna help us midnight Sir I just you could have stayed up late or just go to radio the one where the other that's a. Well we are we're so glad to have you here tonight you're filling in for Mr Blake are in store we got a great show for you all tonight we're gonna be talking about a new model for mental maps and how you can use it to approach solving some of these novel problems but first I do want to go over some quick programming notes our coverage of the near our economics conference recap that is out now we release that a little bit earlier today it's a good chance to hear from members of our lab about their experience at the event I also talked to list you on one of the co chairs of the event to get a little bit more insight from behind the scenes so please go listen to that if you haven't already. And with that I think it's time we get into the part of the show we like to call. Human factors news this is the part of the show we talk about human factors news talk about everything related to the field human factors very what's the story this week. All this week we're going to talk about the new model for solving novel problems using mental maps so how do we make decisions about a situation with no income to be full you work from the center of mind and brain is a fabulous department name I am at the university of California Davis shows that we can solve abstract problems in the same way that we can find a novel reach between 2 known locations unless by using an internal cognitive map so humans animals have a great ability to solve novel problems by generalizing from existing knowledge of it inferring new solutions from the mighty data. This is much harder to achieve with artificial intelligence because animals including us humans navigate by creating a representative map of the outside world in the head as they move around. Once we know the 2 locations are close to each other we can any further I'll have a really good idea doesn't show could between them even if we've never even been there. These maps make use of network a network of grid cells and place cells in parts of the brain. This new work take the research further by testing to see if people can actually use such maps to find answers to novel problems but I guess navigational wave never been for his noble pulled him in of itself but what do you what do you think so I I think generally this makes sense I think. You know in in my everyday life or you know what I'm well let me just say when I'm like visiting a new location right at the novel situation the new location I might see 2 different landmarks and I might say oh I recognize. That other landmark. And if you know I can see both of them in the same spot it's easy to say okay well there might be a short cut between the 2. But I I to me this tracks right it's a. I will say this story made me go back to kind of brush up on some of the mental maps and mental models and what it all means and we'll get into that in a minute but I do want to ask you about your kind of general thoughts about this article and what you thought. Yeah I was kind of without right from the beginning I was like well why don't we know this already isn't this just the way that life works but then it is actually one of them these things I think we take for granted the the because that's the way we think then yes doesn't everybody know this but actually what I found really interesting is that nobody's ever been approved this yet and this is the first time that the been approved that using that method to to navigate is is the way that we have to deal with and use it to deal with the whole problems themselves so it was a bit of a well the but actually the the science of it is is really quite interesting. Yeah and basically you know the the bottom line here is that they're they're suggesting that there's this mechanism in our brain that's kind of. Generalizable from. The front from the like mental mapping piece of it too the decision making peace of it right. I do want to jump into sort of a brush up if you will on on what mental models are cognitive maps mind maps what are all these things right because we're we're to there's a lot of terminology here I wanna make sure we get it straight before we start talking about it. So what mental models it's kind of our way of understanding what's going on. In the world right it's it's what's happening in our head. It it kind of shapes how we think it shapes how we understand things I also kind of looks at these connections or opportunities that we see. What is a mental model to you Barry that's. Yes so the need to do for me mental model is sitting there and been anthems generalize what's going on and began to use I'm a reduction I used to play it is a must begin away but the the. A B. they'll just understand how you technology what's going what's going on out there and store it in your mind. Mmhm I think it's interesting that we do mix and match the cognitive and mental quite a lot so effectively that synonymous with this so but fundamentally having not. That mental model just has that is just a representation of how are you stored in your brain and how you see things the I'm really interested in the side to this that's really interesting is when we have incorrect meant mental models old because the fact that we make our own mental models every mental model these individual so we got when we relied on people using that mental models that we go to make sure they can construct the been there in the right way but that's probably going off to off tangent to a certain extent how do you think that differs from home a a map or a cognitive map. So I we did the research. This is not my. All over your head. Top of my head I would say that it maps are the umbrella term for all visual represent so let's let's actually break this down right so you have the mental models which is this internal representation going on and you have these cognitive maps which are kind of the external. Portrayal of what's going on. Of the mental model itself. I'm. So I I guess one way to think about it is that mental models are in your mind and cognitive maps are what happens in the environment and that's as simple as I can put it we can break them down a little bit more but is that kind of what it means to you too yeah I know absolutely B. M. the the mental to come the the modeling that is the internal it's it's how you how you do things and then the the mapping of it is how you can then. Lay that out all seat outside Latino to communicate with people so you know mind mapping any them sort of exercises where you have when you're trying to communicate your thinking to somebody else's that's old that's all mapping it bucket things out. What is really interesting because language it this but when we talk about that at this point is so key because it's it's no wonder that we we can get ourselves confused by it will be you start to use terms interchangeably. When they really shouldn't we should be. T. delineated between the 2. Yes I want to get back to the study that we're talking about now that we kind of identify the differences here. You know this is straight from the abstract here but they they're basically saying that cognitive maps of an environment so again this externalized. Representation of the internal mechanisms going on right can theoretically allow for flexibility. And it the what I'm understanding is that there's kind of a a spillover between the 2. They might use them interchangeably in this but I think it makes sense right when you have that external representation. There might be flexibility and that as you're approaching some of these novel situations you might have. I like an external representation might you know if you take the navigation task you might have one or more routes and. That would allow you flexibility for how to navigate between those 2 points. I think they're talking about cognitive maps. Kind of being stored in the hippocampus and brain parts right and and we can talk about brain parts that's fine I I like to focus on the applied aspect of this like what is actually mean. Is there anything else you wanna take take out of that. Yeah the I think we stay away from the the the the names of the various bits of brain because some of them are really long but fundamentally I think for me was really just in the fact that that they're looking at even with the experimentation that they're taking the idea of the the journey and working okay should im that that putting it did the noble tasks that will that putting it too was was again taken straight from that paper they will give given them a number of on the nose and they give them Scoles all of competence in popularity. But then when they asked the the the 16 people how does the as the volunteers. They were asking them to rank them altered to partner them up to see who he would which team which pairing would make maximization of growth potential for if they would stop business together D. what was really cool this is the day you will see how this cognitive map because it didn't give them all the information they wanna get the bits of the information and then they will use their own mental model to work out how you know to make these best pairings out of the 2 and Sir when they were doing this they were measuring using MRI fMRI the visual magnet magnetic resonance imaging just nobody's design but they sold it the the the the the way the people to way finding a way people do navigation using these grid cells that are referred to as the exact the same things were being fired I'm doing this type of task so it just shows that we used to be take the information we have in front of those playing in some sort of written form we use that to create a generator will mental model in order to to fill the gaps. Which is again I I kind of feel that it's a it's it's one of the things that you say well yeah we we we know that we do that but it's just so if I it's it's well it's so simple it's stunning that has been done before but I will guess that the technology hasn't been that to be able to. Story the bride in the way that they have with how would this research so it's again yeah Jim it's taking us back to a fundamental piece of work that will will have to leverage against in in future research I think. Yeah I agree I think I think you did a great job kind of outlining the research there and. Really just kind of wanna highlight you know that we're we think about navigation you might think about it in in a grid like representation on the even talk about these grid cells. And basically we're abstracting that grid light representation where you might take you know if you think about like a a 12 Z. 29 or something right or I guess C. 26. You might take a one B. 2 C. 2 so one to get to Z. 26 and and you think about this in terms of a grad I know this is extracted kind of hard to conceptualize so I'm trying my best to describe it but as they're doing that they're making these connections between 2 landmarks right a one and the 26. And that you're doing the same thing when it comes to some of these novel solutions and you're absolutely right this is one of those things it's like yeah no doubt. That water is another news water is blue. You know here on earth but. I think I think it is important right we we we see these studies. I would say infrequently where it's it's one of those this is really no one 's looked at this before but it's incredibly important and I think we'll be referenced you know a lot going forward you know this is published in nature so if if that gives you any indication of its importance. Impact factor of nature is undeniable and so yeah I I think it is definitely seminal going forward. You wanna talk about this wine analogy that there you. I have a one of the best things I love about this paper is the fact that we don't tell you so they talk about the the good stuff like rodent studies and things like that but the. They actually come a long ways as something that I couldn't. Very much yet ascribed to which is a white analogy so I know just quoted from them that that the that the study suggests that the human brain does not have a wine list with 6 values but locates wanted obstruct multi dimensional space which allows for computing new decision values according to the current demands if I deserve such a better quote further right where it says for example people might choose 180 over 1 B. based on price or the pretty label depending on. Well what your factors are but we know that our preferences can change by the food you will pay with the wind. Mmhm and whilst I like you just because anything that refers to wine is is quite high on my list the that the the the well I think for me what is saying is that yes you do in any normal situation you might choose between them A. O. B. what is actual contextual and it's all about the environment the Iran and in on one day you might choose it because of this reason on the other day you know you're going back to the way finding you might choose a different route because actually has more underground and because it's raining. And so depending on the circumstance will make you make different decisions but fundamentally we have a whole when we do we is animals because it it just point out the section of the Cubans it is it is animal all animals will do will basically use a mental model to to work out what he doesn't know and to draw upon the older experiences that that that that it's not. One of it that I think that is interesting in this the dome is a bit of a throw away line. But I think it does have some. Some of the things that we do need to think about is it true to say that this is much harder to achieve without fish intelligence so for me that's sort of you know the artificial intelligence that we see at the moment with automated calls and things like that it's all based on effective lead sold knowledge based systems and and very quick decision making and doing you know do you knows the route that the rules of the road it's going to take I fish artificial intelligence can't do what we talking about here you cannot really sit back around take some abstract piece of pieces of knowledge and a man come up with its own solution to that through the middle we had we still have to give it a framework and a guide to make that happen. So yes so in the US I think it's is this the is the the drive around these papers actually highlighting the difference between animals and and and just actually showing just how far autonomy has to go. Yeah that's a great point I think I will I want to get into the application piece of it that's a great place to start right you. You're right in that artificial intelligence requires sets to be trained against to to build that model of how do you get from a one to Z. 26 I use the same grid model right because it might go a one a 2 a 3 a or 4 in a all the way down a and then all the way across to the to get there. AS one path and then as it explores it might say okay well actually. You know it it's quicker to go A. one B. 2 C. 3 diagonally down to get to the 26 and that's the quickest way. But then you you can throw other things on that grade as obstacles I mean I'm just describing generally how A. I. works you throw obstacles in there no find the quickest way around those obstacles but again you have to say here's here's point a and point B. and here are some examples of how you get there if you were to just throw point A. N. I guess I said point B. but point Z. right on that grad it might not necessarily know what it's doing. I guess I guess the better example would say here's a grid and it doesn't know what to do with that right yeah kind of yeah we don't know what's going on until you give it that training set of those 2 points then it doesn't know exactly what to do. Yeah we only seen that I think N. affair around the famous technology at the moment which is exploratory so you know some of the first A. I. our knowledge base system work was around the drop in sales my problem and that was done largely just threw you a rule based work and that sort of evil but we still based on your you give it a you give the I. L. I did initial lesson it extrapolates from up. Mmhm what we have at the moment is if you to put a some vehicle amounts to do to do mapping and tell you to go places all on miles then it would struggle to do it in the what we would do even efficient manner because it just has to follow rules and a dozen assorted on the environment so I think there is there is definitely things here for for the technology basis but also I think there is there is a real angle here full of students donned a human error as well because understanding this difference between how we make decisions at the steep level. Will perhaps give us a better insight into when we're analyzing human error potential human error. Data of just how we if if if we in an unknown situation how we will come up to commit to a certain solution because one of my I get no criticisms of such but I guess it is a criticism is with the human era well that when we focus on a lot of making a a small number even smaller reducing that the island to risk what we need to get to his understanding about how we will how how true to be come to a deal with decisions that we don't know about and this might provide the the starting point for that sort of that's what research that's all guidance. Yeah decision making is it interesting in general right because I mean this kind of helps us with a new framework but there's a lot of things that go into decision making like past experience is any cognitive bias he's going into this thing. Yes Sir even commitment and sunk sunk cost fallacy that that all kind of plays into decision making. Even individual differences between people can impact how you might approach a situation. I'm so so so thinking about this being used. In application right we might be able to apply this framework as a way to to look at these decision making problems in in real scenarios and say okay well if they are in fact using this grid based system or these grid cells how how might you know a fighter pilot make a split second decision to pull the ejector. To to ejector seat. Versus you know pull. Bursa stay in the cockpit and try to correct right like that yeah that's a that's a real world example of of using this framework to figure out how they might do that right and and you might consider things like. If if you look at the grand you know you might have potentially down the line away the plot some of these. I guess gambits that I I mentioned you know individual differences cognitive biases you might have a way to plot those on this grid understand or anticipate what decisions they might make based on the context around them so that this is actually way more important than I think we're leading on. Because it does provide sort of. A waypoint for the future to reference back to this and build off of I think you're I think yes I think I'm just going to say I think this is more about right now I don't I don't think we necessarily there in a place where we can use this yet I think this is the we are still in the phase of understanding. And so to use your example about how the you know does the pilot peluk Billy Jack Siegel knoll I think we would use this model to understand why he made the here she made the decision that they made right now but I would hope that maybe in either if US time in 10 years time this would be this would have been that spring board for us to then say we now know how that decision made that full this is how it affects our design this is how it how it affects the the the the process is a procedure that we put into place so that's how I think it could be used under its but it's so fundamental at the moment I think it can be used for that yet. Yeah I agree I was I was really looking very future forward with my. Elation for application but you know that's that is me right I I do want to like I don't know I whenever I look at the stories I always like to try to figure out a way to apply it to everyday situations and you're right that is a far way off. But yeah highlighting the importance of this type of research. If for for building off of in the future yeah understanding what's going on is there anything else that you wanna bring up about this piece of research here. What I think he said I think the final bit for me really is the will be the relationship between this and a general way finding I think the whole piece about how we do way finding and I was I was having a conversation the other day with it with a colleague around them cognitive way finding the at the idea about how you how each of us your own mental maps a government model sorry let's get back on to the terminology how each of us them and make them work I think D. the analogy with that's got with with what this is talking about is very very strongly it's I think it's when these things on I'm gonna take away and go in and go and actually now we do think about it but what what I like about this sort of paper needs like with some stuff that you've been talking about is the ability to talk about this type of thing and put it into a. Into more of a language more discussion that actually makes it more palatable. Results and right to the beginning you know it's full of so very big words of of things that maybe don't part of our our normal day to day working but it's really good to be discussed this and actually put into into a meaningful context. Yeah I agree we did ask everyone for social thoughts I do want to get to Lewis so Lewis John he actually provided the social but here the question was. And we drop this last week because we had some recording issues but what methods do you use to make better decisions and Lewis says I run all mine to the long suffering Francisco. Which is the other co chair of the neuro economics conference which actually this content feels very much in line with that so if you're listening from the neuro economics conference hello welcome we typically get a lot of new listeners around conference time. But added Lewis goes on to say you know I otherwise I'd usually try to set a countdown timer period to allow for cool down rely extensively on scheduled actions messages reminders. And I think that kind of fits with this model right if you think about it. If you think about all those. What did I say they were like damage or or components that you might be able to plot on this decision making grit you might have. Things like messages reminders on that grid to help guide you to make a decision one way or another. Yeah I that's that's what I got. Yeah I got and she just a whole lot. I thought multi message of the what is the only the things it does raises the. When do you know you got enough information to make a decision so from a military perspective they do often say it you know any decision is better than no decision of any decision it has to be timely so it's no point making a decision why after whatever the opportunity is is gone so that's possibly another thing within this sees how do we know using a mental model that we do have enough information to make a decision to go forward do you just a what point do you say right I just do something. Some. Yes. I don't know quite how that would fit in with that with that network it's almost like having a big stop clock above the whole thing inside you know. Right we don't know we just do will make the best of it and and crackle. Yeah. All right well I just want to thank our patrons this week for selecting our topic and thank you to our friends over at UC Davis for our news story this week you want to follow along you can join me on office hours every Monday evening Pacific time where I find these new stories would you pose the least our original articles in our weekly round ups on our blog he also join us on our slack or discord communities for more discussion on these topics we're gonna take a quick break and then we'll see what's going on in the human factors community right after this. Human factors cast brings you the best in human factors news interviews conference coverage and overall fun conversations into each and every episode we produce but we can't do it without you. 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Yes and we are back huge thank you as always to our patrons especially our honorary human factors cast staff Michelle Tripp patrons like you keep the show running thank you all so much for your continued support if you want to become a patron there's a there's you can do that it's it's something that we do you can help choose the news you can get access to human factors minute it's all there in the advertisement. We've actually been releasing some early audio for them as part of the coverage of the New York and I'm X. conference you get early access to that type of thing a lot of benefits there anyway if that's something that you can do. Check it out it might be might be something you can help out with otherwise I think we I'll shut up now let's just get into this next birth. Yes it came from this week it's already this is the part of the show research all over the internet to bring you topics the community is talking about if you find these answers useful give us a like to help other people find this content wherever you're at. We have 3 tonight and I want to break this down one by one so we'll get into this first one here by T. W. A. 8 U. on the H. C. I. subreddit. This one is titled categorical difference in job roles it says a what is the difference in work and results the end product in roles such as you X. designers you acts engineer you X. designers you acts writer project manager product designer and visual designer some colleagues have specialization in computing industrial design psychology and digital media are they all the same PS I graduated and worked in finance to move into content writing so social media blogs email letters which is delivering simple solutions delivered by the client in an interesting way so it sounds to me like they are trying to understand the difference of these. Various roles to to what I'm thinking is there probably writing. Job description but I wanna get your thoughts on this because I think it isn't really important question like what what is the difference between all these roles at least in your experience. Yes I think this is a really good example of where things may be differ slightly in the US and the UK as well so the first thing that threw me I will try to work out with a difference with the U. S. designed wasn't you X. designer was nothing but just about the same thing twice. So but the I mean said when you look at the United project manager role lots a definite stand out to something that is more universal about keeping that keep the project on track making sure that they you know got everything the cells had they they need to do is read M.. U. S. so you X. designer engineer researcher all rights around just a I guess a standard product designer visual designer. Well for me will be all around their engagement and and really I guess the the media that they use but there is a certain element there around that not necessarily all the same but. 2.the phrase that that's a bit famous M. indica it depends on on the on the on the on the on the organization that the U. gone into. Mmhm but fundamentally for me the you'll you X. designer is all about putting together what things should look and look and feel like your your engineers about putting more together that that prototype and making sure them them them kind of things work you researcher is the is that fundamental underpinning piece about why you do what you do and making sure that the usability is works with your with your end user you and and usual audience. I'm gonna make you were trying to reach anyone on me Jimmy that that's it that's a content piece but I'm I am guessing to a certain extent. But I don't know what what what what what from your perspective I think folks up from a UK perspective I don't think. U. axes quite as mature it is it is in in the in the US so perhaps we don't necessarily break down our rules in quite the quite this all the way out to this level of detail what do you think. Yeah I think that's that's a great break down I think I think you had it right there the designers sort of look and feel engineering prototype for researchers the one who's going out and talking to users writer is also new to me too. When I when I think about these other other. 3 project manager product designer and visual designer. Product project manager is the person who's overseeing everything. Product designer and you X. designer are interesting I think. Product designer. Could be more broad strokes of like goals for the product. This could be like you know I we want the product to do aid capability a capability being capability see where the designers actually detailing out the fine details of those implementations. And the visual designer it differs at least for me from the product designer the UX designer and that they're more the look and the you X. designers more the feel. I or or the interaction you X. designers more the interaction of the the look and feel and the visual designer might you know establish the look of the product so I I think there's a lot of roles here but ultimately the point that I want to make here is that it depends. There it is right it it really depends on what you see your role in the company being right you might be someone who with like you know Blake skill set he he has the ability to do some front end coding and so he might consider himself an engineer even though he participates in research. And you know can actively designed some interfaces like it it just depends on what you want to call yourself a lot of times. You know your your responsibilities will change based on the need of the product and it might not always be the same thing and there's a lot of bleed over between these. I'm. And I basically. I don't know I wouldn't worry too much about it just do what you are comfortable with and what your specialty is and kind of what needs to be done and that I think should meet the standards especially when it comes to you know talking about your previous experience and things like job interviews or talks or anything like that I I don't really think putting a label on it. Impacts you too much there. I do want to bring up this point here on specialization in computing industrial design psychology digital media engineering is another one that frequently comes up. Do you have any thoughts on like what the difference in backgrounds are and and how that kind of applies to your role. Yeah absolutely I think I think you can definitely flavor bias your approach so my background is is engineering so I'm. Well it's been a tough they're gonna be some try to engineer and so that really gives me a but real soul to not only an engineering approach to what I do I tend to do you could say well the systems engineering approach. But also it means that when if I'm trying to work with the teams we have every day I actually feel more home talking to this said the engineers side of things and trying to get our principles across to them and what we doing I'm so but nothing to eat everything gives you a bit of a almost a corner where you come from I mean certainly get again in the UK we're we're in a position now that the the undergraduate degrees of the they do you know your first degree that you would you be you'll get as the other human factors are you a U. X. engineer practitioner and they don't really exist now do you don't you don't have to be gets the the human factors knowledge kind of that the affected degree until the old your master's degree. So your your second degree effectively and so most people now going into that didn't go come into the main will have a previous background for the majors probably may. According to shut down the said this book is a a large psychology and coming into human factors and a large amount of engineering I think. Sir yeah it it it is interesting and it is interesting how we flavors people's views and approaches on on how the do the danger do you think I think I would bring up about about about that so much so many different roles I think it really depends on the size of the organization because if you're going to a very large organization then chances are yes the you will have more rules but how because it helps to differentiate people most of the projects I think I will I will call him probably with a with 2 notable exceptions I've been one of the you say one of the what one of one a one of 2 or 3 HM working on them and so all of them roles is me you know it's it's the we we we stick our finger in all of them all eyes and now I mean do Baltimore mall project management which. Sometimes fills me with joy sometimes not so much but the yeah I think I think we did the did the size the organization with the masses and and and seeing yeah that the specializations I think that they're a good idea I think they they really help give some depth to to what's going on so yeah you have did this way I'm good luck with what the what what they move into. Yeah I agree I think you made a good point about kind of you know the size of the organization I I have had a similar experience where you know I might be a little bit of a designer and a little bit of a researcher and a little bit of a. A writer you know and writing requirements along the way you know kind of sticking my toes into the engineer pile so. I agree I think. Yeah I think it really does depend on on the size of the organization and I roll my eyes at the it depends but. The terms of background it's interesting too because you're right I think the majority is probably psychology or engineering. An aide I would say. I'm not I'm I'm probably going to get you know in trouble for this too but don't worry too much about what background you come from as long as you're in human factors your goal is to to make things better for the end user and I think as long as our goals are aligned how we get there might take different paths and you know someone like Terry might be better at writing requirements are interacting with engineering folks and I might be better at at other things although I think there is probably much better than at everything and I am. I'm saying I don't think that's right. I mean I I wake you know I I as a psychology background I might be more influenced by the research side of things where I'm interacting with users and have different tools or might understand cognitive psychology from a different perspective it might be able to implement some of those in the design you know so there might be some differences in in in your background ultimately the goals the same right make things better for the end user right and but also we meet with them different backgrounds as well where it really comes. Really I don't really nice these when you get together be working as a team and if you've gone to 3 people who come from different backgrounds when you come together and gel as a team that's such a richness to the output of what you've got as I said recently you know generally I work I did in in very small teams but I don't do to put it recently where I was in the department of around 25 you have lots of people all coming from different areas and it was just such a nice experience to come and say right I've got this problem how do we think we sold and people will be coming up with different ideas from. For many practical applied Ole yep I would what what tonight was PO human factors approaches to well actually I did did so with a set of applied in this way for a psychology background all 4 digit and it was just so nice to be in that world where you can actually come together as a co owner of surgery which riding experiences. Yeah that's a great point all right let's get into this next one here this one 's from our tax souls alive from the user experience reddit reddit this one is titled odd situation where the feedback of one stakeholder holds the most weight out of others they gonna right I'm in a new predicament on my latest project and was hoping to get a second opinion on this I finished the second round of initial stakeholder surveys and I've gotten some amazing comments on the surveys the client is already has already provided a previous unused design for their interface and I included questions about in the surveys basically just wanted to know in so many words why they had the previous design what it was for why can't they just use that basically why did they hire my team and I to make something brand new when they already had something. The feedback I got from a stakeholder survey was pretty minimal except for what I received from one person in particular who cares a lot of who carries a lot of influence over the approval process when asked about the previous design. The notice noted some very specific things they wanted and didn't want it in the design then a mated to a visual comparison to a very familiar project management tool I regularly use so my take is that the previous design has already influenced them too much and they're set on what they want my initial research and ideation resulted in something a little different so I'm pretty upset that I probably have to throw out my sketches my question is how do you handle a situation where a single stakeholder holds most of the power and already knows what they want. That's a tough one isn't it mmhm the I. somebody works a lot in the in the militia divine I come up come across this on quite a regular basis and and actually for quite legit legitimate reasons that you have the user community made up of but you don't see them the military is a very as a very much a hierarchy instilled in it and you have a discussion with lots of people in the room until the most senior officer walks in the room and then suddenly everybody's got the same opinion I need to see new offices opinion. But the I think the the salute these 2 elements of this that I think is quite interesting that the that they thought that they went out full use feedback that they they did the survey and actually goal. Very little feedback about it D. and then when they when they actually went when do they they they got this one person who was not only the only person very one of the few people actually spawned it and then they're very influential no I guess is you gonna look at the influence of the person involved. And say well is it influence upon the organization itself all influence upon the success of the product and Sir and and that the 2 are slightly nuanced but fundamentally you as long as you've done as much as you can possibly do for the flight and if they are effective that the climate sensation and a nap with what with the way that it goes then sometimes you just got to work do what you paid full. But it's it's it's a tough situation wait when you've you've I'm sure we've all been there when you've you've come out with some what you think is a radical design it meets all the requirements it does the right thing. And the client seen something else and go on yeah but I wanted to look like that because I'm basically the one that put cheaper. Right yes I want to talk about a couple things here there's. There's size and. Then there's the size of the proposed changes right that. You you might want to implement and end product there's also your role as a user researcher or. You X. researcher there's also at play here. You know which which things are going to be best for the user out of many things that might be better for the user right so to me there's 3 things right who who has responsibility for the direction of the product who what what input what updates to the design will best improve the user's performance. And I'm. I got my middle point but I'll I'll get back to it so let's let's first talk about who has influence over this project right so we when you think about. You know the singular stakeholder has a lot of sway this might be a project a product manager who. Is determining what direction the product is going that might be out of your control. At at this point now I will say there are some tactics that you can use to help sway these types of roles in a certain direction you might come back to them with user research that you know indicates that this design might not be optimal let them come to that decision on their own your your best bet here is to kind of convey the user comments and and again this is a whole other conversation about how you do that diplomatically without upsetting anybody but. You know having having those types of roles that are determining the direction of the project come to those conclusions on their own is a big part of it I I yeah the one thing I forgot was you know the size of the changes right are you talking about and a whole overhaul of the system are you talking about you know just maybe minor updates here and there I think you might be able to pick your battles which is the third point about which. Which pieces you want to include right if it's a whole overhaul that's going to make this thing better right like let's say you're using I'm I'm just gonna use an arbitrary example here you know right click menu verses that. Ribbon at the top of whatever product you're using. You might have all the controls on the right click menu but it might be more efficient to put him in a written across the top. And you know you might want to advocate for some other control mechanism for her for those controls on that display specifically but. You know that's not your place to to at least I don't see it as my place to influence the direction of the product if I've just been hired to do some research on the current implementation again try to get them to take get you there and then the the last pieces taking those battles right if if it is going to be a huge. Influence on user performance and you have metrics to back this up you know. Sort of categorizing that return on investment and making sure that the people involved understand what's at stake here like the discoverability of this control is you know that they find it you know 10 times faster while that's going to be huge for you know some of those. Some some of those battles that you want to pick so anyway picking your battles understanding the size and scope of the project and understanding who ultimately makes the decisions is going to be a big piece of this so it depends. I'm sensing a theme here. Well no I mean that's what picking the bottles is is truly key warm because there is your role at the I. if I'm so quite often in a situation where you've got you know you want to change not only ABC with ex wise as well but actually you're going to turn around and say well actually if if if the noble who do have the computer and I can't convince them by sheer numbers because if they're committed by sheer numbers on the board in there already you're probably going on something because you think it's quite cool you think you just think it's the right direction so it'll be fairly marginal sometimes we just got to remember that we the representation group representative of the user but we don't run the world even though I like to think of in the world on on many occasions you know fundamentally you use some things you just going to say well you know I tried but let's not waste my energy anymore let's focus on the stuff I can achieve and and crackle. Yeah what's the great points let's get into this last one here this one is by Jessica Perlman on the user experience sub reddit we've seen that name before so this is their first time building a design team they're feeling excited and terrified and they need help and advice so they're going to write I've been the solar designer in the company or we can talk about any really role here. As being the only one there I have been asking for more designers and for this opportunity to build a design team for a long time. And again let's let's abstracted to researcher research and design now that I have been given the green light to hire 3 to 4 more people I'm excited and terrified at the same time I've never managed anyone and I feel like there are so many things I need to figure out from putting together a job description to figuring out the hiring process to actually managing and supporting a team I almost regret asking that for this in the first place where should I start ordered a couple of books like making a manager in order design for design orgs would appreciate any help advice or tips berry have you put together a design team or research team and what was that experience like. Yeah it's it's hi I think I get completely wet where she's coming from it is it's a scary time scary situation but actually it's really exciting as well if you can do it right then you get to empower a whole lot of people to come together and do some really cool stuff so the first thing I would so to suggest is what they saw mention about it what's the hiring process and stuff like that there are other people paid to the company to do that that's your HR department to get on to them I'm assuming that your you know big enough to it's a big enough company to do that that that there are other people in the organization you can worry about the mechanics. Fundamentally what you need to be doing is right work out what it is do you think you need. I'm and in a few or more skills are complementary does this ought to elements also play with this is I work out what I can what I can afford to pull together so is it in here they do 3349 as but you might might be team attending might be what every days. Do some of that and then work out what the key one of 2 roles in there to begin with. Because if you do a gradual higher. Help you then can hire more people to build upon other people strands. And so gradually build up a team like that over time now the pure time might only be a month but might be longer than that but identify 3 folky roles first O. 23 key roles and then hire 2 to compliment beside that the. Do you look at that I find really interesting and I will credit a a colleague of mine proposal but this because he really got it with me that if you want to really build a successful team you've got a highly successful people you've got a high good people and the way he categorize it which I think is is fascinating is if you're a person you hire a people because that you would bring in the best people to help complement of Thailand but then be people I see people because they feel of the there's always like an inferiority complex and but you don't want anybody showing you what for what you do but fundamentally you hiring people is not there to either make you T. make you coffee and stuff like that them into committing complement what you do and boost what you do and for the many field leading these people and then they gonna take your direction they're going to take what you do and and really empower it so hi the best you can afford is probably the the the the key thing that I've I've learned over time and once you got them keep them because if you have a good team to come together and gelled well not just pays back dividends brilliant. Yeah I agree a lot of a lot of team building I think is not necessarily it is absolutely hiring the right people for the right tasks but it goes beyond that right I wanna talk about like the the peace once you've hired the right people. I'm you know that there's obviously team building exercises for a reason and that's because you do want them to jail like you said right you want them to. Sort of understand where everyone's coming from you want to not only that but build relationships between them because the better communication flows between the same people between different people working on the same project the better that product is going to be because you're not having overlapping work. And in part of this is on you if you're going to be put into a management position understanding exactly what pieces of work need to be done and who's responsible for those pieces of work and even even more than that kind of a pipeline of events that need to happen in order for a work piece of work to happen right you need to do research then you need to analyze results and then you need to. Great designs based on those results and if you have a team. And then you're going to want to stagger it and and at least my advice for this would be to hire a researcher first because they need to be able to identify what it is exactly that you're looking for and then maybe you hire. It depending on the size right you might hire a prototype or later to. Or a designer after that to help translate some of those findings into design and then a prototype or to shed turn those designs into testable interfaces and so kind of building it piecemeal but understanding what each role does I think is a big part of it I think I think you pretty much covered all the all the good bits of that so. We'll just go ahead and get into this next part of the show anything else for that one. Not well actually the one last thing I would say is Hey make sure you interview twice and have one of them interviewing your interview with them but let them interview you would encourage them to to show what show they can do and then talk to people and hide them because you never know what the full everything about somebody on interview or even like a couple of interviews they will have skills that you don't know about that they lost because they don't know about that they can contribute to the business so spend time when they first get into the organization learning about the make them feel comfortable but also learning about what else they can do what they do in their free time because the level of the things that they can complement to the business one of that island some today that's a great point. I I knew about it just hearing it sort of codified is is great all right let's get into this one with this part of the last part of the show one more thing it needs no introduction this where we just talk about one more thing you got a really interesting one this week what's what's your one more thing so my one more thing is actually a bit bit of advertising plea to be honest I'm running events next week so next Wednesday which is not this Wednesday which I thought it was as I was sent to you earlier I need to get myself into a a right state thinking that that was that but I'm trying to. Kicked around the idea of climate no makes this idea that we as a as a community can really do something about climate change because those people do lots of really good stuff loads of signs loads of the Creighton tools a great only sucks but nobody bringing it all together. And it should be obvious this this epiphany moments all of we can pull this we can do this because this is what we do on a day to day basis we do projects together we have the. That that that the book to within that cleans out which type thing so part of this we did some work on the part of the past the past month or so when I'm holding a weapon next next next Wednesday on the 20 ninth. Through the chartered institute of economics and human factors so be 5:00 UK time but I'm doing a bit of prep presentation double so Galt Merson class who's from a professor from the university which plenty known as actual psychologist and author and Polson and money director of indica and think had there been a lot of work around that pollution I O. T. and so we're gonna be looking at the the the 3 different aspects of of this and how fundamentally how can human factors and ergonomics make a difference this problem so. Come along it will be fantastic and there's no right answer to it the whole idea is that we try to pull the community together and say you know what human factors tools techniques ideas or just general things can we pull together to help solve this issue. Yeah I'm excited for it I'm on the list I'm I'm really excited to attend and and see what it's all about. My one more thing is not so so interesting I guess here is very interesting and topical especially after that climate report came out a couple weeks ago but mine is on sort of the storytelling of the hunting series on Netflix my wife sat me down and had me watch the hunting series because she thought I'd really enjoy it I did I did at the the storytelling of these I guess they're like 8 or 9 episode series. The director does a really good job of. Both ending on a cliffhanger and explaining a perspective of one individual per episode and so it's such a layered story in both cases hill house and buy manner that. As you understand more about a certain character you understand more about the story and the layer it in such a way that it's just like peeling off the onion it's like you know there's a whole onion there but you can't see what's in it and so once you peel off one layer than you understand just a little bit more and each layer is kinda get its own focused episode and it's just it's it's an amazing. The way of telling stories and I'd highly recommend anyone who's interested in that type of thing to go check it out anyway I think that's gonna be it for today everyone if you liked this episode we invite you to check out episode one hundred eighty one if you like the flexible decision making that we talked about today we talk about reprogramming brain cells in that comment wherever you're at listening what you think of the story this week for more in depth discussion you can join us on a slack or discord communities visit our official website sign up for our newsletter stay up to date with all the latest impactors news you like what you hear is what the show there's a couple things you can do one leave us a five star review that is free for you to do that right now to tell your friends about us we grow from word of mouth that really help to show up or three if you have money and you want to throw at us consider supporting it on Patreon put all that right back in the show as always links all over social interwebs I'll be in the description of this episode I would think Mr Perry Kirby for being on the show today work our listeners going find you if they wanna talk about decision making I you can find me on Twitter at browse and disco okay and you can come check my because I cut cussed out at anytime for could save public OG trouble to human factors focused on any focus directed me you will put a link to both of those in the description as for me I've been host Nick Ronique by me streaming on twitch every Monday at sometime anyway for office hours and across social media at Nick underscore Rome thanks again for tuning in human factors cast until next time, it depends!

Barry KirbyProfile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.