8 03, 2019

Binary opposition: sympathy vs empathy

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From the Greek pathos …

Sympathy is “commiseration, pity, or feelings of sorrow for someone else who is experiencing misfortune. ”

Empathy is “the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.”

– dictionary.com

There is a lot of talk about empathy these days. Talk about design based on empathy and businesses having and supporting empathy with employees.

Somewhere along the lines I missed the change in the definition of these two words.

I looked up definitions, articles, videos and talks in sympathy and empathy. There seems to be many definitions.

I always assumed this definition: “Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy, which is caring and understanding for the suffering of others. ”

– diffen.com

My son was born with empathy. He always could feel your emotions and would react almost as a reflection.

My daughter was born with natural sympathy. She instinctually knew what you needed and how to take care of it.

With the current definitions that people are using I have lost the word that describes feeling someone else’s emotions. My daughter now has empathy and my son has ???

The definition of sympathy seems to have morphed into the definition of pity.

So during this process of looking up definitions I learned a lot.

  • Language is very fluid
  • It does not matter what I think the meaning of a word is when everyone else uses it differently
  • My discomfort with the use of the word empathy in design circles and business was because the meaning changed
  • People make videos about these two words all the time
  • Empathy is a fad right now
  • Empathy is now what I thought sympathy was and sympathy has become another word for pity
7 03, 2019

Choice: Hick’s law: the more options you have, the longer it takes to make a decision

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Wow. That sure sounds obvious. If you have more to decide from it takes longer to make a decision.

Specifically Hick’s law determined that with a list of equal choices that are ordered logically, the time to search and find the item of interest increased logarithmically (not linearly).

So if you want a person to make a decision quickly, consider the number of choices that you expose.

For further reading:

Interaction Design Foundation

6 03, 2019

Best way to teach is to do and review.

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While listening to a fireside chat by Ken Exner the GM of builder tools at Amazon, he was taking about bringing his teams up to speed. While there does exist some basic, standard training classes, Ken mentions a better way. The best way to teach is to do and review.

Give a person an assignment. Have them do the work and then review with them. Experts ensure the learning and the company way by spending the time reviewing and teaching. The teams do the work, not the architecture or security experts.

– Ken Exner GM of builder tools at Amazon
Amazon Tools Talk

5 03, 2019

Let’s go north for The Dead South for a bit of Canadian Americana

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In hell I’ll be in good company – The Dead South

I love how he plays the cello strapped over his shoulder.

This is the kind of tune that gets stuck in your head.

4 03, 2019

Architecting a decision

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If we ask do you want this option, we will spend a lot of time convincing you or changing the option to match. Or you will just say no.

If we give you 2 or 3 choices, you will more likely choose an option.

The corollary is:
With three options in the following manner, you will pick one of the following and it is likely to be 2 or 3 (a little behavior economics is occuring here – see Dan Ariely).

  1. This option is what the client asks for but at our convenience
  2. The option the client asks for
  3. The option the client talked about while asking for number 2
3 03, 2019

Difference between fortune, chance and luck by Tina Seelig

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“Difference between fortune, chance and luck

  • Fortune is things that are out of your control. I’m fortunate to be born in this place in time. I’m fortunate to be healthy.
  • Chance is something – you have to do something. You have to roll the dice, or you have to buy a lottery ticket, or you have to apply for a job.
  • Luck is defined as success or failure apparently caused by chance. Apparently – that’s the operative word.

How do you increase your luck?

  • A lot of it has to do with taking tiny risks.
  • It’s getting out of your comfort zone.
  • It’s paying attention to things that other people don’t pay attention to.
  • It’s talking to people who – where you’re going to learn something new.
  • It’s learning something new each day.”

– Tina Seelig from NPR.org


2 03, 2019

Increasing your potential by enhancing your talents

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As a company our key assets are the elite consultants working for our clients.

Remaining elite requires consultants to “increase <our> potential 10%, 20%, or 30%, by enhancing <our> talents …” – Warren Buffett

My value to my clients is my deep expertise in product design and execution with a broad knowledge of around 12 different domains I have worked in.

– that value disappears tomorrow if I do not:

  1. acquire more knowledge to broaden my expertise – in tools, technologies and techniques
  2. Learn new things such as marketing, sales, negotiation or other domains

My Goal: 1% of my time each day to learn something new

28 02, 2019

Binary opposition: Hide vs Disable

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When do you hide vs disable a control?

In a large stateful application, on every screen the user can be doing work and encounter functionality they do not have access to. There are two categories of functionality that is not available:

  1. The state of the data and controls on the screen is not ready
  2. The user’s role was not given access to the capability.

When creating the user interface the control should be disabled if the state is not ready. If the user or system can change the state of the user interface to get access to the control then it should only be disabled. This provides a little visual indicator to the user that the field is there if the state changes.

However, if the user does not have permissions to access the functionality it should not appear on the screen at all. Why have it there if the user cannot use it at all. The functionality just becomes visual noise.

27 02, 2019

Innovation: manage the risk

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Innovate or die, right?

You run your business line better than anyone else ever has. But you see it all the time. These little startups come from nowhere and eat your lunch.

Innovation is great in concept but you know that you cannot risk a big change and negatively impact your current business line.

What should you do? How do you manage the risk but still innovate?

Consider making many small bets.

This article gives five things to consider for each bet:

  1. Keep the teams small – 2 pizza party
  2. Time box each initial investment to determine if you will invest more or stop
  3. Pick a minimum amount to invest like 2k for the first round and 20k for the second
  4. Create milestones and metrics to achieve
  5. Set target success and failure rates


26 02, 2019

Outperform your competitors by 2X with 5+types of innovation

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Don’t just do product innovation. Anyone can do that. You can do ten types of innovation.

The Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs – by Larry Keeley is a fabulous book. It helps you and your organization reframe the scope of your effort to something that will provide the most impact.

Here are the ten types of innovation:

  1. Profit model
  2. Network
  3. Structure
  4. Process
  5. Product performance
  6. Product system
  7. Service
  8. Channel
  9. Brand
  10. Customer engagement