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Oct. 1, 2021

E220 - Emoji: The Future of Communication?

Recorded live on September 30th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Barry Kirby.

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| Recorded live on September 30th, 2021, hosted by Nick Roome & Barry Kirby.


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Welcome to human factors. Cast your weekly podcast for human factors, psychology and design.

Hello everyone. This is episode 220. We're recording this live on September 30th, 2021, or otherwise known as international podcast day. Cause there's a day for everything. This is human factors cast. I'm your host, Nick Rome. I'm joined today again by Mr. Barry Kirk. 

Hello and good morning, cause it's now morning here and we are I'm at the 1st of October.


I'm in the future. You are not only in the next day. You were in the next month away from me. We got to think of that. We got a great show for you tonight. We're going to be talking about emojis and communication between patients and doctors. But first we got a little bit of programming notes here for you all.

Give you all an update and you might've noticed a co-host of the show. Blake he's been out. He's going to be out on a temporary hiatus for a little bit. We're not sure when he's going to be back, but he will be back everything's. Okay. Don't worry. He's in good health. Nothing's wrong health wise. If there was, he'd be communicating with his doctor about using emoji.

There's other stuff going on. We can't talk about it anyway. He'll be back. We're going to figure it out. And aside from that, I do want to quickly plug we're always working on really exciting things behind the scenes. And Barry and I've been talking even about potentially other exciting things behind the scenes here.

So if you are interested in any of that, I encourage you to reach out to me reach out to the podcast on any of our social platforms to talk about maybe joining the human factors, cast digital media lab. Like I said, it's, it's kind of a, a way for you to get involved. Potentially get your hands on some really cool stuff that we caught coming down the pipeline.

Anyway, enough of me blabbering, we know why you're here. You're here for

human factors news. This is the part of the show. All about human factors news. This is where we talk about everything related to the field. Barry, what do we have? What's the story? 

So we turn about emojis are proposed as a powerful way for patients and doctors to communicate. So emoji that universal lexicon of colorful and clever symbols that meant replace the written and spoken word could be a valuable tool in the field of medicine, allowing patients to better communicate symptoms, concerns, and other clinically relevant information.

And this is argued by Massachusetts general hospital physicians and others. So in a commentary, in the journal of the American medicine, medical association, senior author Schwann, he, a medical doctor is in the emergency department attending suggest that each medical discipline begin discussions around the creation of its own unique set of iconography for official adoption and incorporation into everyday.

So for those of us who are possibly not away in 2010, emoji was officially introduced to the global lexicon as part of Unicode. And I think we'll probably talk a bit more about how that happens later, but the Unicode is a competing standard adhere to by most of the world's will process in systems today.

Emojis occupies the same status in Unicode as the Latin, that a, a Chinese character or an Arabic character and an estimated 5 billion and used every day on Facebook and in Facebook messenger. So 2020 they're 3,521 emoji in the Unicode standard, roughly 30 of which could be considered relevant to medicine, excluding generic body parts, such as the ear Panda, et cetera.

The current set of medical emoji is a result of ongoing erratic efforts. Over the last five years, it's attempting to dismiss emojis and millennial fad, but they possess the power of standardization. Universality and familiarity and in the hands of physicians and other healthcare providers could prevent a, could present a new and highly effective way to communicate pictorially with patients says he in emergency medicine settings, where time is crucial, emoji could lead to a point and tap form of communication that could facilitate important clinical decisions.

The tiny graphic symbols now span all digital plans. From mobile to tablet, to desktop couldn't they could also have the utility as annotations to hospital discharge instructions, which are often confusing. If not comprehensible to some patients. So, what do you 


of that? Well, that's a lot to take in there, so emojis we were talking a little bit before the show about our emoji usage.

I don't really use emoji all that much. And so to hear that it might be the key to communicating with healthcare professionals. What's surprising to me. On the other hand, I've seen it used more recently, you know, I've seen it used a lot more recent. And I would say that, you know, I understand it for the most part when it comes across.

And, and we can talk about interpretation of it, but generally a great, the, the better we can improve communication between doctors and patients, I think the better. Right. What are your, what are your thoughts on this article? 

I think it's anything that we can do to improve communication between I mean the, the medical discipline is such an involved discipline and it's most people coming, coming into the medical domain at a really scary time for the myth that it's particularly if they're going now into the emergency department or something like that.

So anything that we can do that allows the better communication and more immediate communication, then that could be a good thing. The, when we're using this, I think it's. As we say, I think we'll probably go into the interpretation of some emojis means different things to different people. You put on the on, on the promotion part of this, the, the use of the, the eggplant of the peach one person's eggplant is not another person's second plant.

And it's, there's also a, the generational thing here around. Okay. So how do we, as patients interpret these eggplants and peaches and things, but how. Does it do the the doctors or the medical staff truly know what they're conveying? We, by using the certain emojis. So, but the, the other thing that I like about emojis is that they do, they transcend language, you know, the smiley face is a smiley face and it, it crosses culture.

It crosses language barriers. So. Yeah, I can sort of see how it's how the stacks of potential lab. I also worry about the level of confusion that it could cause you could cause grave offense the wrong emoji. Right. But it's, it's, I think it'd be useful. I mean, why don't we go back to you know, how do, how do, how does it emoji coming back to the first.

Yeah. So, so we did a little bit of research before the show, and there's a, there's a whole episode on Roman Mars is a podcast I'm blanking on the name. But they, they go through the creation of emoji and what it takes to, to make an emoji, but just to kind of shorthand everything. There's this Unicode consortium.

And they hear out some of these proposals on a new emoji every year, basically. They look through all of them. They, the best proposals are approved and then turned into emoji and then released to the public. And so that's why, you know, it seems like annually, you're getting these new emojis. The submission process is public.

And basically anyone in the world can make an emoji or submit an emoji, but it's going to be the ones with the strongest proposals by this that are evaluated then by this consortium that that are accepted and, and released into the world. Right. And I think, you know, they, they do have. Criteria that they evaluate this against.

Right? So they, they look at sort of the compatibility is this, is this approved on other platforms already? It increases its chances, if so, right. And then they kind of look at how. The the expected usage level, right? How often or frequently are they expecting people to use these new emojis? It needs to be distinct, so it needs to be separate visually distinct from another emoji that already exists.

And then it needs to be complete. So it needs to be able to fill in a gap that's present in the current emoji emoji library. And all of this context is going to be important when we actually talk about the story here. Yeah, but I, I do want to bring up, so we talked about emoji, what it's born. I do want to get to our social thoughts really quick and I'll start with mine.

So we we put out on the internet this week you know, reply with your four most recent emojis to describe your medical issues to your doctor. The podcasts account was smiley face, thumbs up brain 100%. So I'm guessing the podcast is in good health and our brain is functioning 100%. That's my interpretation of it.

I'll go over mine and it's a. It's a less than optimal outcome. Cause we got fire peach, eggplant and heart for mine. And I have an explanation for that. So I don't really use emoji. We talked about this a little bit before the show. But to me, I got to check something out. Cause if, if my peaches on fire then, well, Anyway.



we'll get back to more social thoughts in a minute, but what are your any, any comments on how emojis are born before we get into sort of more context on emoji? Yeah, it's 

interesting though. I mean, you found before we went, went live the Emojipedia the fact that there is a whole Wikipedia based resource that you can go and find emojis for everything.

And having gone through the recent COVID pandemic, then obviously there's been a whole splurge of new Corona virus related emojis, which I think could only have Because certainly when, when we saw the coronavirus emoji itself going around sort of Twitter and things, then you could tell that it was different.

You could tell that it tell that it was new. Therefore it was sending a message, which I thought was quite good. But also as Kirsten says on the, in discord Emojis and not necessarily standard just because they've got into Unicode there's platforms that use their own interpretation of things. So customer highlights, Twitch has its own sort of set of emojis that it uses.

So just because it's not part of the consortia. Yes. So if it's partly constructed, then it's likely to be adopted throughout any platforms that you use as Unicode. But, but there's still platforms that can still go to loan and. They're a, a bit of spice as it were the, the other thing I really like and we'll possibly go into it as well, is, is how unique how emojis have now become a lot more inclusive.

So you can have just a simple thumbs up with, with the. Standard yellow, a yellow hand the Simpson's hand, perhaps. But now it actually reflects skin color as well. So if you, you, on your apple device, you can select what color the hand you want, what color skin you want to have on the hand, or to do the to do the thumbs up with which I think is just really brilliant in the way that we've taken a something that's seen as fairly standard.

And it actually made it really inclusive as well. 

Yeah. Great points. I think you make a great point with the inclusivity. And I think that's, you know, that's one of their kind of goals at the consortium is to make sure that it it's universal. Right. They want to make sure that it is something that can communicate across barriers.

They don't exactly say that in, in their criteria here, but But at least for the factors of inclusion, right. That's what, that's what they're looking at. And I think, I think I want to get into a little bit of background on healthcare and why using emojis and healthcare can be so impactful. So just to get a little bit of background here about healthcare, this comes from a report from the world health organization.

So they've kind of consolidated a lot of research. This is from 2009, it's a little older, but a lot of it's still stands. So just generally in healthcare you know, they cite that communication failures are one of the leading causes for inadvertent patient harm. And you know, I think that is an important statement.

Necessarily as it relates to this story. So we're talking about team communication for the most part in this. And one thing that I, as I was reading through this report from the world health organization, I was surprised that they don't really, they comment on it, but it's not as explored as some of the other team communications in healthcare settings.

Right. So you know, when you, when you consider a team of healthcare professionals, Dealing with issues where there's handoff issues or communication issues for like providing patient background information to a new location, or even handing off to a different doctor in between shifts. So there's there's a lot of stuff going on here behind the scenes when it relates to teamwork.

And then, you know, as it relates to. The patient doctor relationship. We can talk about that in terms of the article, but is there anything that you wanted to bring up in terms of like communication and health? Yeah, I think 

one of the prevalent issues in health care and I don't think it's it's Countrywide.

I think it is international that the seniority in healthcare teams is always been an issue. So if some, if somebody junior within the operating theater or something like that, raises an issue and says, oh, I'm not sure whether you've done some done something right. Then the senior surgeon in the room or whoever it is, is the most senior in the room.

Sometimes I'll certainly historically, and that can be one of the failures that they won't, they refuse to be told what to do, and then they've done something wrong. So I think around that team and bringing in better, the big drives, certainly in the NHS, in the UK national health health system, in the, in the UK.

Bring around better communications and listening to everybody and making sure that everybody's view is heard and appreciated and valid. So I think there is there's, you know, around that general teamwork element, it's, it's trying to push the real teaming aspect, not just the hierarchy and control aspect.

Yeah. I'm going to read a statistic here. That's that's kind of shocking. So it's been suggested that. Anywhere from 70 to 80% of healthcare errors are caused by human factors associated with poor team communication and understanding again, this is kind of focused on the team, but it it, it really does kind of go.

It highlights how important communication is in the healthcare setting, even though it's the team communicating, you can imagine that there's similar breaks or similar gaps in communication with respect to the patient and the doctor. I don't know if the percentage is going to be that high, but you know, it's, it's kind of crazy that all this stuff like teamwork, communication, leadership are all critical to S a safe environment.

And just how this good communication can really reduce any problems with patient safety. 

Absolutely. I mean, when you, what do you think about that doctor or healthcare professional and patient barrier? Almost the healthcare professional knows so much, you know, they, you know, they, they know you better than, you know, you, because they've perhaps seen things inside you that you don't ever want to see.

And, you know, they they've got that whole knowledge and everything around them that they need to be able to communicate to you as a patient, what you need to. Without terrifying you without in a way that will be proactive and positive for you to be able to make the right decisions going forward. So they've got a whole lot of judgments to make around just how much to tell you to be open and honest about what's going on, but perhaps, you know, it's one of these jobs that were oversharing is a, is a bad idea.

But also undersheriff. A tremendously bad idea as well. So it's, it's, there's gotta be a real skill there in how to pitch information in a way that is proactive and productive. And I think rather than the me, 

yeah, that's a great segue. Let's get back into the article here because the article is basically suggesting that that emoji is kind of one of these key.

Ways in which patient doctor communication can be improved. And they give a couple of examples here. I do want to go through some of these examples. So that way we kind of wrap our heads around the context here. So for example, right. Written discharge instructions. Might be really confusing to many patients.

And we talked about sort of the inclusivity as well as universal understanding of emoji, right? At least as it, they hope that there's this universal understanding of emoji. And that might be one of the issues with this, but the uncertainty for the reason of hospitalization or being unable to describe diagnosis.

So being able to communicate that in emoji. That might be a better way to communicate those types of things. You have preliminary evidence suggesting the patients, particularly those with lower health literacy, especially might prefer reported outcome data in emoji format because they might better comprehend what's going on.

So that's, that's just one example, but I think it's an important example because you do have varying levels of I guess literacy with, with health. And so being able to communicate that there's problems with this body part, and you take this many pills at this time of day might be just what the doctor ordered.

Well, it makes sense when you think about it though, doesn't it? Because it's the whole picture paints a thousand. The rather than trying to describe what sort of pill or what sort of medication you want the ability just to show the picture of it or the, you know, like the pulling the right body part.

And I think a lot of this is going, is coming more prevalent because you're not necessarily in with your doctor or healthcare professional all the time at the moment we are, we do still a lot more remote. So. General practitioner engagement. You're your health care professional you might be seen on, you know, something like the technology we're using at the moment, like a a web meeting or something.

So the ability to put into. Chat or whatever, whatever the, using the, the, the, the mini pictures to create the the, the, describing what your feeling is surely gotta be an easier way for both sides to understand it as long as everybody does understand it. I think it's probably quite key to say that the article is not suggesting that we use all of the current emojis as they currently set to do all of this.

They're suggesting that they they're gonna promote a whole new bank of emotions. To to support this this capability, because as we said in the the initial introduction, there's, there's a limited number of medical emojis at the moment. And whilst you've got an arm and a leg, there's D there's other body path that you may want to allude to And that takes us right back to, I guess, eggplants and peaches.

Yeah. Well, I mean, let's talk about that proposed list of emojis, because I think it's important to talk about some of them. So I'm going to do a poor job of describing some of these and that's going to be a theme throughout tonight's episode is. Poorly describing emojis. And actually before we described some of the medical emojis, I do want to take a break and, and look at more of the social thoughts because we only got to myself in the podcast.

So I'm gonna, I'm gonna, is it okay if I reveal yours or do you want to reveal 

yours? Okay. So my first one was the smiley face with the heart eyes. So, so I'm not entirely sure what that means. Then I've got the close to face, which I think I'm supposed to be fist bumping. But then I've got the, the microphone and the computer.

So I'm I'm presumably got punched in the head whilst very happy. And, but now I can't speak because I've been punched in the face and I can't do anything. 

To me that reads I punched you in the face with a request to be on the podcast tonight, and now you're forced to podcast. That's that's what 

I'll call podcast.

ITEST there we go. Find 

cast itis on national podcast date. All right. I'll read one more here. This one's from Taylor. It's a side eyes crying, laughing face with a monocle as the next one, and then a checkbox. So I'm assuming. This is telling a story of like, not sure if everything's okay.

Laughing about the misunderstanding, doing a double-check and then everything's AOK, that's what I'm interpreting with that one. All right. Let's get into some of these proposed emojis that they are talking about in this study here. I'm trying to find it. Do you have 

for the. It's interesting. So they're there.

In fact, they, some of these proposed in 2020, but sort of to be very specific smaller, smaller and smaller than large intestine they've got deliver. They've got a the kidneys they've got the stomach, they've got the lower leg, but in a plastic. Or a bandage. It the is plastic customer bandage, and then you've got a, you've got a spine.

You've got one, but then you've got one for pills. You've got one for a blood plasma bags for getting a transfusion. Then you've got a fluids bag. So for jet for just general fluid then, oh, that's a CT scan. Because that goes into that. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And you've got a black ball.

I'm not entirely sure what the black 

ball is. Is that a weight scale? Is that, is that the weight scale that they're talking about 

there? Oh, it could be, but it doesn't have anything on there. It's a bit, look, it almost looks like a pool. 

That one can be confused. 

The, then we've got the pillbox. So, you know, the and I spell box, which has your pills every day.

And then you've got a white version of what I think is Corona virus or just a general virus or something like that. Then you've got crutches and then you've got an easy. Readout. So what you get on the, on the heart monitor your heart portrays. And I saw, I can't think of the word or the actual word for it, even though we've been looking at that now for best part 

of an hour, they just call it the white one, the white coronavirus that's that's a white blood cell is what they call it.

Yeah, so, so this is a, is a great list of emoji here that they propose, but I do want to go over, like there there's some that are already out there that could be really useful for this type of application and I'll go over those. So right now they have a syringe, they have a pill, they have like a medical professional, male and female.

They have a cane or a blind stick, a blind cane. They have mechanical arm, mechanical leg, a hearing aid, which is really inclusive. I'm really happy about that. They also have a stethoscope, a blood droplet, a bone, a tooth. It looks like some sort of virus, a heart and lungs. So they have a. They have quite a extensive example here of, of things that are already in practice.

And that could be combined with some of the other emojis that are out there, like face mask or bandage or microscope, or even the medical SIG signal I think is out there. I think they even have microbe as, as. Emoji other so there's, there's ways in which you can use this to communicate. And I think, I think it's important to kind of recap where we're at and where we could be.

What are your thoughts on, on these proposed emoji? Do you think there's anything, I mean, we already kind of talked a little bit about criticism with one of them, with the black ball, with the smaller ball in the middle. We're not quite sure what that is. I think it's a weight scale. Yeah, I think you're 


Wide-scale yeah. Yeah. I don't like that one. I think they need to go back to the drawing board with that one in principle. I mean, some of these things do they need to be in sort of general approved emoji through the Unicode consortium or would these be better suited to specific medical applications?

So I can easily see you having a, so the medical practitioner on a tablet and asking them to ask the patients to point to any one of these symbols of the body paths, which one, what hurts, what do you need? Passing them back and forth. So on the one hand you could say, well, actually that doesn't need to be general knowledge, that that just needs to be within the medical domain, because if they do their job properly, they should immediately convey exactly what they're talking about.

That said if they're, if they are part of the Unicode consortium then, and they're available to everybody, then that means that everybody implicitly knows what they are. And so that there's that general learning piece. Issue with, with that? I think I'll say the third way of looking at it is, as we sort of said with some of the other emojis, the, the way that they interpreted changes and it changes through through age through generations.

And so 

across cultures 

and across cultures, could some of these be I guess, reinterpreted by different people in to mean different things. So we keep on referring back to, you know, the peach and the, and the eggplant. Clearly we're not talking about a peach and an eggplant, but when I was talking to, as I sort of had a chat with my kids tonight over dinner, but I'm talking about, about what we're going to talk about talking about tonight and there's the.

Just eat it misinterpretations or different interpretations of current emojis. So we, my daughter sent me a an emoji with the, the crying face emoji, so sad crying face. And so we, me and my wife were very much of the, well, you know, are you, why are you sad? Well, what what's up, what's upset you. And then he took her boyfriend to then drop into the conversation and say, actually, no, that's her saying that she's really, really happy.

Right. Well, it's not cause that's the sad, the T the tears of joy and laughter what is the other one? It's different. But it's just the way that they do, they use them differently. So kids are today. I tell you. But it shows, you know, it's, it's one, person's a one person's liver. Isn't, isn't potentially another person's liver.

So it might be at the moment, but it'll evolve over time. So we've gotta be able to make sure that. I some of the breadth of how these, how the language 

works. Right. I think as we get to the specific body parts, that might be less and less of an issue. And especially in the medical community, we, we do want that to be kind of less of an issue, right.

I mean, you mentioned you know, how, how it changes generationally, and this could be used for, you know, children who are still developing some of these language skills. And in fact, there's, there's evidence for this, right? I mean, there's. I think it's, it's the faces pain rating scale. It's helped children kind of navigate their pain.

I think it was in 1983 by this report. But basically it's showing a series of faces ranging from a happy face at zero or no hurt to a crying face at 10, which represents hurt like the worst pain imaginable. There's issues with this, right. They're trademarked and come with licensing fees. But if you use something like emoji that are freely open source and non-proprietary then you know, it's, it's a nice alternative.

That's not cost prohibitive and. Potentially more familiar to patients. You, you, you know, especially as, as emoji is within that Unicode library and you have many more people accessing it, right. It's not like they see these 10 separate faces on, on the faces pain rating scale. Yeah. You know, and there's, it's not just that for children, but you know, you have other pain rating scales like visual analog scales used in medicine to measure, communicate the intensity or frequency of system or symptoms.

And so these things exist already. It's just using different pictorial representations to that are, that are open source and freely available that Also help with kind of the familiarity with these types of things. 

We'll be a lot here as well about again, thinking about how we evolve as a as a, as a species almost cause the.

When a lot of these rating scales were first made emojis didn't exist. So now that we get we're getting there it becomes freely available. And therefore it seems to me to be a particularly as we use more telemedicine, Telecare, that type of thing you can use it for children. And also the, as the as we get older, then we'll be more used to using this.

Going to old age, many years from now. And, but then will, emojis will be second nature for us. So it makes a lot of sense. 

Yeah. I want to get to a couple more social thoughts and then we'll wrap this up. So a again, it was replied with the Fort most recent emojis to describe the medical issues to your doctor.

Erin says crying, laughing, like. Sigh and pumpkin, I'm not sure how to interpret that. I'm thinking maybe they were laughing then got attacked by a lion that made them exasperated and now they turned into a pumpkin or something. And then the last one here is by ghosting on Instagram here, we got what does that scared blood skull grave.

So I, it's not turning out well for ghosting. 

But that was about day. 

Yeah. Scared then blood was drawn, then they died and now they're in a grave. Okay. All right, let's go ahead and wrap this up here. I want to talk about sort of the, the impact that COVID-19 has had on telemedicine and, and, you know, kind of this whole being able to interact with doctors at school.

Yup. So, you know, thinking about sort of, you know, both the CDC and the U S department of health and human services, they've recommended this telemedicine as a way to provide care safely for patients during the pandemic. And you think about that communication between people. Especially in a situation where you're not face to face, you want to communicate the right things.

And so they're also suggesting that in this context know, healthcare workers might be able to use online messages or emoji in these online messages to convey symptoms help patients understand their condition and instructions via recognition rather than recall. Right. So if you see like a sick face, you feel like that, or, you know, I'm just throwing things out there, right?

Or is there any blood or. You know, what hurts I I'm thinking those might be kind of cool as a way to communicate. The recognition rather than recall, is, is really important here. Because they might present you with a series of emojis and you just respond with the ones that you recognize in, you know, your symptoms and it might be, might be.

To, to visually represent those types of things rather than a series of a string of text that just says, Hey, what symptoms. And fever, you know? 

Yeah. I think, I think the, what the pandemic has shown us that telemedicine Telecare is, is here to stay. It worked. And so I think there's going to be a a strong push to do, to keep doing some of that so that we, so doctors can deal with maybe simpler cases without people having to go through, to go into going into the surgery and things.

So being able to use you use this capability to To allow that to happen is, is, is going to be essential for us moving forward. So. I think if they get these, these new emojis actually submitted and approved, then I think we could see I think we will see them being used. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

I hope so. All right. Well, thank you so much to our patrons this week for selecting the topic. thank youto our friends over at Massachusetts general hospital for our new story this week, do you want to follow along? You can follow me on office hours every Monday night. I find these news stories and we do post the links to all the original articles on our weekly roundups and our blog.

You can also join us on our slack or discord for more discussion on these stories. Leave us a, your favorite emojis over there. We're going to take a quick break and we'll see what's going on in the human factors community right after this

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it came from this week. It's all Reddit. This is part of the show where we search all over the internet to bring you topics. The community's talking about, you find these answers useful. Give us a like wherever you're at to help other people find this content. I think we have time for three. I think we'll say three tonight.

We, we can add. Well, we might cut one for time, but we'll see I'm going to get into this first one here. This is a help with justifying how a UX course would help with my current role. This is from NCI scope kid on the user experience. Subreddit I'm signing up for UX course. My current role is working with proposal graphics, process and architectural diagrams, et cetera.

I want to pivot my role to UX instead of being a proposal graphics designer and give that up. My boss is behind me taking the course, but once me to be able to justify it to higher ups in order to get the company to cover it since I'm not really super familiar with UX in general, does anyone have any exposure to both kinds of work that you can help with some bullet points as to how the course would benefit my current proposal role, please?

And thank you. I want to talk about two things here. Barry, I'm going to talk about first. How do you. Justify going to something that you're not a necessarily an expert in, or like, let's say you wanted to go to a separate conference about a specific topic that maybe isn't human factors. And then two, how do you justify going to human factors or conferences or, you know, participating in these courses?

So, I guess first for me, it's, if you're looking at basically broadening your horizon, which is, if you're, if you're going to look at something in, that's not necessarily as part of your role, then that's what you're doing. Then you've gotta be able to count that in. What does it bring to the business? What value does it mean to your boss or to your department or to the overall capability of the company?

If you know this broader range of skills. So. Sometimes it can be, can be exploratory. And if it's a bit cheaper, if it's something that doesn't require, say a vast amount of time or money, so a day, maybe a couple of days or whatever, then sometimes it can, you can just by center. I don't know whether it's going to help, but it sounds interesting.

I think it might have legs. Therefore it's worth a punt it's worth has given, given it a shot. But if you're wanting to invest thousands of pounds in, in a, in a new course to. Which w pivoting you away from what you do. Then you've got to lay out, lay that out a bit strongly. You've got to come up with effectively a business case about why you need to do it.

Or get your bus really drunk and get them to agree to it when they didn't realize. But in seriously, you've got to be able to lay it out in business terms. If you're expecting the business to pay for it, you've got to fundamentally say, you know, what are they got? What are they going to get out of it if you're pivoting away from something, which is, which was, which was hinted out, how were they going to have that capability going forward?

So who's going to pivot into your role to do what you were doing. And basically make it, so you've got all the answers. So if, you know, if you put yourself in the, in the position of the people, who'd gone, you going to justify this, answer their questions beforehand, get it all written down, get the argument laid out and, and crack on.

Most times I've sort of done this a couple of times where I've wanted to learn something new. So I remember doing a bit of coding or I've done. In fact, when I pivoted out of engineering into human factors so. And look at it, look at me now. So that kinda, that kind of works the, but you've gotta be able to justify it.

You've gotta be able to justify it, not to yourself, but to the people who are going to pay the bills. 

Yeah. I will say. It's an interesting case, breaking out from another field into human factors or user experience, because I feel like it's a little easier to sell that you know, rather than being inside human factors and going outward towards other things, I'm going to talk about it from this perspective, because I feel like you know, as, as people might be looking into the human factors field or UX field, it it's an easy sell and all you have to say.

Honestly, any training or any any sort of thought into making a product better for the user is going to have a return on investment. And this is obviously if somebody that's coming from the field, knowing what that can do. And so actually. Being able to quantify that return on investment and saying, you know, Hey, I'm going to take this UX course.

And because of this course, I'm going to learn X, Y, and Z, which will help with capability X, Y, and Z or ABC, you know, and, and being able to. Link it back to exactly what the outcomes of this course will do for you. Right. I think that's important. It will also strengthen your position at the company and strengthen confidence in the company itself.

If you have these credentials of like a certification or a course, or going to a conference conferences are a little bit more easier to sell. I think just before. A lot of times conferences provide you with justification kits to, to go back to industry and say, these are the things that I'm hoping to get out of it.

And this is how it's going to help our product. So it's, it's a little easier to do it from that perspective. If it's a tangental conference it's a little harder, but still doable. Right. You know, let's say you're in, I don't know, like a. In the defense industry and you go to a defense conference, that's not going to be out of the realm of, you know, a possibility.

I think if you're going and mingling with the people that you are potentially going to interview. You know, user interviews somewhere down the line, I think it's or building those connections. I think that's important too. You know, it might be a tougher sell if you're in defense industry and you want to go to an electronic show or something, you know, it's gonna be a tougher sell, although you still could probably do it.

I dunno, I don't have really, any other thoughts on this. It's just kind of do your research with what you get out of the conference, link it back to how it's going to improve your performance. And especially if you're trying to switch roles in the company. Let that be known, but be strategic about it.

I wouldn't try to do everything all at once. I would say, you know, maybe start more subtly and then work into it, but that's just me. If you're trying to, you know, switch roles in a company and the other closing thoughts on. 

Yeah, it depends on the size of the company to a certain extent. If you're part of a large company, then actually probably switching roles and stuff is a bit easier.

If you're part of a really small company, then make their lives easy by, by Len out that argument, the conferences is if you're, if you go to human factors, conferences, and your audio human factors, practitioner, then absolutely recommended to do so because. Hey, it is about learning new content, but it's about networking.

It's about, you know, there was human factors. People are few and far between we need to stick together in packs and herds. So that's a great way of doing that. But you, sometimes you, if you're part of a larger company, you sometimes do struggle with that, that the lonely pay for maybe one person out of your department to go.

So just make sure that. 

Yeah. All right, let's get into this next one here. This is how do you organize user feedback? Their specific situation as an early stage startup. This is by fuel powerful, and these are experienced subreddit. They say I work for a really small startup and we're just getting new clients in our.

I've been organizing user feedback in different ways as we're doing research, but I'm trying to get a better process to organize and prioritize feedback Synthes, starting to come in through different channels. So like sales teams, account executives, technical onboarding specialists, et cetera, has anyone found a good process?

It's not something that has to be perfect as we're still small, but something we could use as we grow and eventually find a more solid solution as we get more clients for right now, I was thinking. An air table or Google doc. So I could use Zapier to automate things if needed. What are your thoughts on that?

I think they're probably setting up the right place, some sort of spreadsheet. You can't beat a good, a good spreadsheet for this sort of thing. Especially once you get your auto formatting and all that sort of stuff. So, sorry. Now you can see where my geek comes into play. And the good thing about using a spreadsheet for this sort of thing it's, it's easily communicated as well.

Chances are your clients or or your users or whatever will also have access to that type of thing. However, there are, there are a bunch of other I guess you can use, I mean, you can go back to basics and use, use basic cards for canceled. You know, if you, if you've got different channels coming in, get, assign them different colored post-it notes and actually go, go back, go back to the physical approach.

Not necessarily recommended on, on a large scale, but actually you can get some really nice Heatmaps type that type of project occurring, just because of what you're doing. There's also digital versions of that. So, and I was any, almost any sort of cortisol, I guess, combined management software as well.

We'll do a similar thing. So you can use that, that type of approach as well to put things into the, into, into the appropriate pipes and columns. But I would, I would always pretty much revert back to some sort of spreadsheeting before. You just have to, it's the best thing to use.

Yeah. We're both spreadsheet guys. I love spreadsheets. And especially because if you set it up, right, it will serve you Mo it was sort of like 90% of your needs. Especially as you're collecting different data, you might be able to link that data together in ways that is new and exciting and exploratory in a lot of ways, especially for something like a startup, I will echo the.

Kanban management sort of, you know, like JIRA or I guess what else? Yeah, Trello, I'm familiar with the Atlassian suite. So I think that is often a lot of times underlooked. I think the big advantage to that is that you can align to the, the company's goal. Earlier on, so you can see what's coming down the pipeline and if you make your own tickets in there, you can attach them and say like, Hey, look, we need to do a user thing on this thing.

And you attach all that user feedback to a separate ticket or to the ticket that it, you know, it it matters on, right? So like, let's say a developer needs to develop some interface. That might be good to attach a mock-up to. Right. So, absolutely right. There are several different ways that you can align, but I think you're right.

A good spreadsheet. You can't beat it. The other thing I want to mention too, is that there's situations in which you can not necessarily collect digital feedback all the time, especially in the defense industry, you might be in spaces where you can't take in electronic devices. And so for that good pencil, pen and paper is, is your friend there and just make sure that you're designing the surveys for physical use Which is a whole separate skill because they're going to have to have enough space to write the things down on physically on paper and you store a hard copy, but then you also digitally.

And that's a lot of work, but it's, it's work that's necessary when you go back and look at the results. Anything else on this one? 

I think I, I just almost reinforced that last point. Is I, whenever I'm doing any of these sorts of data collections, and I guess it's probably because I do so much in the defense industry is you've always got to look at version three modes.

Can't. You know, 99% of the time digital works for you. And that's brilliant, but it's that one time and it'll be the, it it'll be the, the one point where you don't want it to fail. And it will. And so, yeah. Backup backups on your backups. 

All right, let's get into this last one here. This one is, I got rejected from an interview, even though they reached out to me.

This is probably from a Susie XO, a recruiter. Messaged me for an opportunity at a big tech company. I mean, all the requirements, I had an initial phone screening and it was easy. The recruiter didn't seem to have knowledge about UX. For example, they asked me, how can you talk about an architect that.

Which I found very broad. So I asked, can you elaborate on what you mean? They said, this is asked by the UX lead architect means UX design. You worked on, which I know, but I think it should be more specific. Also. They seemed really bored during the call. And I asked at the end, if I'll have a chance to do UX research, they said, no, this is a design role, even though I read the job description.

And I know it mentioned conduct usability testing, I got a rejection email, which I'm wondering why. The role is open for all levels of experience junior to seniors. And I meet all the requirements. Very what's going on here. 

I think it just reminds me of a title of a film. They're just not, not that into you.

I hate to be a bit brutal about it, but it. I think part of the problem, this is partly for them. I think we we've gone through recruiters. Certainly the, you know, you've, you've engaged with a recruiter and you've engaged with a an interview team that isn't necessarily the team you've got to work with.

They've been given questions to ask, so yeah, they don't necessarily know what you're talking about. They're taking the answers down. But fundamentally, it's it. Isn't just about you meeting the skills for a job. You've got to have the right you know, the right attitude and, and for them, for them to have the confidence that you're going to fit into their team.

So I think perhaps the, maybe just the way you, either you come across or they just didn't think you're going to be a good fit, just meeting the requirements of the role itself. Isn't enough, in some cases, particularly if you're maybe going for the big tech companies where, you know, they, they know the sort of behavioral a lot, you know, th th th that specific behavior model that they want to come in and they've seen, you know, maybe they've recruited for this position quite a few times before, already if if the recruiting a number of them.

So they kind of know what the want. If you're looking for that sort of job where you want to be able to look at a broad range of thing, that's actually possibly look, you need to look at a smaller company. Because they certainly my experience. Just just being able to have the right sort of CV just gets you in the door.

I don't, once you, once I'm interviewing somebody, I actually don't care about the CV at that point. It's all about the person. It's all about the person will they fit with the people I've already got? Will they fit in the type of project and we'll live with the type of clients I've got. So it's as much about cultural behaviors as it is about, you know, the, the, the courses that you've done.

What about your New York experience? Do you, have you been in this sort of a had this sort of. 

Oh, geez. This is a very much read the room type of thing. Like to me, I feel like this person thinks they're being headhunted, which is not the case here. They're being reached out to by a recruiter. And you know, recruiters look for certain criteria.

They run a search on LinkedIn that matches, you know, your criteria. And then they reach out to you and say, Hey, we have this position available. Would you like to apply for it? It's it's an additional avenue. Getting people to apply to that position that they might not have had before. And so just because they reached out to you doesn't mean that they wanted you specifically, that means that they were looking for people like you, and they have asked probably 50 to 60 other people that match your level of experience.

And yeah, as it sounds like, and I don't mean to say, I don't mean to say this to be mean, it sounds like you bombed the interview or they just didn't see. You know, you fitting in with the company and that's unfortunate, but you know, especially as it relates, you know, especially as it relates to these like weird positions where they say they want somebody with user experience research, and, but it's more of a design role.

I'm glad you figured that out, but it's important to ask that kind of stuff upfront because. You know, even before you get to the interview like that, that's something I would have asked the recruiter as they reached out to me and says, Hey, you know, I, I saw that this position says user experience design, but it says a designer.

Right. And, and you asked for that clarification before you even get to the interview phase and waste everybody's time. I, I think it's a tricky situation because a lot of times you have HR departments that run. Positions, especially in larger tech companies, which sounds like this is you have HR writing these things, and it's not necessarily the UX team writing the description.

And so it can be confusing. And I don't know, my best point of advice is to try to ask for clarification whenever possible. And it sounds like you did, maybe it was a little bit too late. Anyway. I, I think any other closing thoughts on that one? 

Yeah, just really quick. I mean, again, if it's, if you really want to know what the, what they truly thought of you go back and ask the most recruiters.

I'm quite happy to give you feedback. If you go back and ask them after the interview you know, you didn't choose me. What could you give me? Can you give me some feedback to improve? But fundamentally it's a bit like any sort of relationship if. I wouldn't really worry about it if they didn't want you then I wouldn't bother chasing it down because why would you want, why would you want to chase up something where they, you know, what, half the relationship w w clearly wasn't going to go and work.

There's going to be a job out there with your name on it to go find it. Yeah. But 

what if it's the biggest tech company that you want to work for? And it's like, perfect. And you just didn't hear it. I've got a, 

I've been in that situ I've I've been in that situation. I was headhunted and it's the only time it's happened.

It was amazing. And I got, and I went for the interview and in fact, for the first couple of interviews, they didn't even tell me who they were. It was really that sort of secretive. It was kind of weird. Anyway, finally got to Went to their base and had their interview. And it was, it felt like it was, it was when I found out who they were, it was going to be a dream job.

Absolutely amazing job. When I got there, it wasn't anything like I expected. And I ended up turning it down, which was just. Weird. In fact, I remember walking out and sent it, sent to my wife. She's like, how'd it go? How'd it go? And I turned them down. I didn't want that. Didn't like it. I need you to freak me out for a while because yeah.

But so if it's not, if it's not what you think it's going to be, then you just got to crack on and move on. 

All right. Well, let, let us move on here to get to this last part of the show called one more thing. It needs no introduction. This is where we just talk about one more thing, Barry. What's your one more thing this week?

My one more thing. I was going to talk about the new, the new James Bond movie that's cam come out. And then there's been a suggestion that should be a a female James Bond. What would that look like? And should, should, should she be double or seven or actually maybe double or nine, but actually I just wanted to highlight the fact that it's never too late to get involved in here in human factors.

My wife has. We both did our degree together in command and control systems. Many years ago, she's literally just started a human factors master's degree and completed in the past week, her first assignment, which apparently she tells me now what was, was held up to the rest of the students on her course as an exemplar of how to do it.

So I'd just like to say from my, from myself to her chip and we'll actually find out whether she listens to this congratulations and well done. 

Yes. Congratulations. Well done. It's never too late to start. I love that message. And I have friends that started later in life down the path and they're glad they did it.

So if you're thinking about it on the fence, do it. My one more thing this week is. I've never been an apple guy. But my wife got the new iPhone 13, which is running iOS 15. And I found myself watching many of these feature videos on, on YouTube about like, what are the new stuff in iOS 15, mostly for her benefit because there's, there's.

Stuff that, you know, comes out on these releases and it's important to know, and some of it can make your life really much better based on some of these features. But I have to say, I have to give it to apple. Like, like I said, not an apple guy, but they are killing it with some of the super cool stuff that they have going on.

One of the cool things that I thought was really interesting is this focus mode, which is like a, do not disturb mode on crack. You can kind of. Select pick and choose which applications or notifications you want to persist in different modes. Right? So if you're sleeping, you might say no applications, you know, wake me up.

You might also say, Hey, in, in this situation I only want my you know, calls from my loved ones to come through, because if I get a call in the middle of the night, it's probably important. You know, likewise, you can say I'm, I'm studying. And so I only want my music apps to be visible. No social media, no, nothing.

I'm at work. I only want slack or, or you know, the Microsoft suite to be available. I don't know if Microsoft's on apple, but I'm just giving use cases. So, and I, I always liked Android for kind of that under the hood customization that you can do, and it looks like Apple's kind of catching up with that.

So that's kind of cool to see see them come around on some of that. All right. Well, I think that's going to be it for today. Everyone. Let us know what you guys think of this episode. We invite you to check out our recap of the 20, 21 human factors and ergonomics society, international symposium on healthcare and human factors.

It's got a lot of that healthcare stuff. Feel free to comment wherever you're listening with what you think of the story this week. For more in-depth discussion, you can always join us in our slack or discord communities. Visit our official website and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with all the latest human factors news.

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We always like giving back to those who give to the show. All that money goes right back into the show. It helps us grow. There's always links to all our socials on our web and and our website are linked in the description of this episode. I want to thank Mr. Barry Kirby for being on the show today.

Where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about what an eggplant. 

You can find me on Twitter at bars underscore K. He goes to find me on Facebook and Instagram and the 12 human factors podcast and your local podcast directory. 

Excellent. As for me, I've been your host, Nick Rome. You can find me streaming on Twitch every Monday evening at some time for office hours and across social media at Nick underscore Rome.

Thanks again for tuning into 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.