“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Shut Up and Dance – Blue Flavor

Nick Finck recently wrote a blog entry entitled, Shut up and Dance. The article basically is a treatise expousing that it is time to throw off our separate identities of IA, Usability Engineer, IxD, HCI Professional, etc. and all get along and play nice together–and well Dance! What follows here is my response to him and a comment made by Scott Berkum on the same blog entry.


When we do our day to day practice, it has to all be about a unified approach to design, no doubt. However, this swinging pendulum, or unnecessary dichotomy of either, “we are one” or “we are just X” does not make sense either.

You mention “the big picture”. Ok, in the big picture, how do you learn it? how do you create a career in it? what means are there for evaluating success in it? What are the pieces that actually make up the puzzle of this big picture?

Historically, we can look at some things and see that we are where we are because we’ve been pushed to extremes. I think competition as Scott put it is definitely an important contributor, but so is isolation. Many people chose a “camp” not even knowing the other “camps” even existed until it was “too late” and then they felt that they needed to protected that new community that was built, OR they just got plain associated with one camp even though what they do has nothing to do with it any more.

Then, and here’s the important part … As we’ve all matured through UX hasn’t it been that we’ve all been reaching for the same spots and in so doing have noticed trends that set up some previous titles and roles arrive at the executive level, and so the “ownership” debates began.

But this isn’t to say that there isn’t a deep need for definition and mutual understanding of disciplines, processes, methods and career development. It would be misguided for us today to say, that we’re done with all of this stuff and we should just move on. Why? b/c heck, we never came close to finishing, we don’t know how to communicate to stakeholders, and we are struggling still to find balance within the communities of UX as, as you’ve noted we are still in our little factional communities.

As someone who is on the UXNet Executive Council, I am all for the creation of spaces where collaboration and cooperation between the various organizations that represent different parts of the puzzle can take place. But as VP of the IxDA, I still see we have a a perpetual need for these organizations as each one brings a piece to the larger puzzle of understanding the big picture.

One last note. Why have one community? Why belong to one community? Why unify ONLY under one community? In today’s global environment, this sounds short-sighted to me. I float pretty well between a few communities. Not all of them, but that is probably more about comfort, interest, and heck, where my relationships are than what I “should” be doing as a UX Practitioner.

Basically, finding spaces of unification is all well and good, but going out and intermingling and creating moments of confluence to me is a much better, more strategic strategy that will bring about the most change, and largest sustainable growth for the entire UX sphere of practitioners.

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