MinneWebCon: People, Technology, and Innovation

by Luke Wroblewski April 18, 2011

At the MinneWebCon in Minneapolis, MN Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker discussed the importance of focusing on the people we create Web solutions for and outlined some strategies for doing so. Here’s my notes from their talk:

  • Technology itself is not innovation. We are always looking for the next big thing but we still haven’t figured out to do with what we have now.
  • We need to focus on people not technology. In order to reach our customers with innovative solutions, we need to start with the employees that make the solutions.
  • Employees are users of a company’s culture. Customers are the people actually using the stuff. We need to make employees happy so that customers can be happy. Happy people do good work.
  • Employees want support, validation, and people around them working as hard as they are. Employees are motivated by time, family, and helping customers.
  • Corporate culture has not changed much since the 1800s. We didn’t consider the people inside of as much as we considered the processes that ran it. Our corporate cultures are a reflection of where we were a hundred years.
  • Reporting structures create situations where people compete instead of collaborate with each other.
  • Interlinking of information by its nature subverts hierarchies. In markets & among employees people are speaking to each other in powerful new ways.
  • Companies that deeply and widely engaged in social media surpass their peers in both revenue and profit by a significant difference.
  • We are moving from a product-driven economy to a people-drive economy. Conversation cannot be controlled.
  • User (as a word) creates a divide between creators/employees and actual end users. Users are people. Whenever we talk about people, we never use that word. We call them users, stakeholders, etc. When we start calling them people they suddenly become us.There is a divide between who makes Web sites and how uses it. Male developer (college, etc). Female users (older, high school).
  • Nerds are uniquely equipped to harness the chaos. We are used to getting constant feedback and things breaking all the time.
  • Humanity is required for innovation. Not just the humanity that occupies the planet but also being humane (being nice + supportive of people)
  • Put the onus on ourselves to end the “us vs. them” mentality. Don’t create an us vs. them attitude by laughing at users
  • There is a time and place for looking at where we are now and designing for people that are not there yet.
  • Secret is emotional intelligence. The ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of self, others, and groups.
  • Try to learn how you can improve your communications every day.