Posted: May 17th, 2011 | Added by: brynn | Filed under: Games for fresh thinking and ideas, Games for problem-solving, Gamestorming wiki | No comments »

Object of Play

Rarely are ideas born overnight. And for an idea to become a great idea, it takes considerable work and effort to develop. Part of the reason we end up with under-developed ideas is that we stick with the first good idea we have  rather than taking the time to explore complementary approaches. 6-8-5 is designed to combat this pattern by forcing us to generate lots of ideas in a short period of time. The activity can then be repeated to hone & flesh out a few of the best ideas.

Number of Players

Duration of Play
5 minutes to play each round
15-20 minutes for discussion

How to Play
1. Before the meeting, prepare several sheets of paper with a 2×2 or 2×3 grid. You want to create boxes big enough for players to sketch their ideas in, but small enough to constrain them to one idea per box. Prepare enough paper for everyone to have about 10 boxes per round.

2. As the group is gathering, distribute sheets of paper to each player. Or instruct the group on how to make their own 2×2 grid by drawing lines in their notebook.

3. Introduce the game and remind players of the objective for the meeting. Tell players that the goal with 6-8-5 is to generate between 6-8 ideas (related to the meeting objective) in 5 minutes.

4. Next, set a timer for 5 minutes.

5. Tell the players to sit silently and sketch out as many ideas as they can until the timer ends with the goal of reaching 6-8 ideas. The sketches can and should be very rough  nothing polished in this stage.

6. When the time runs out, the players should share their sketches with the rest of the group. The group can ask questions of each player, but this is not a time for a larger brainstorming session. Make sure every player presents his/her sketches.

7. With time permitting, repeat another few rounds of 6-8-5. Players can further develop any ideas that were presented by the group as a whole or can sketch new ideas that emerged since the last round. They can continue to work on separate ideas, or begin working on the same idea. But the 5-minute sketching sprint should always be done silently and independently.

6-8-5 is intended to help players generate many ideas in succession, without worrying about the details or implementation of any particular idea. Its designed to keep players on task by limiting them to sketch in small boxes and work fast in a limited amount of time. 6-8-5 can be used on any product or concept that you want to brainstorm, and have the best results with a heterogenous group (people from product, marketing, engineering, design&).

6-8-5 works great in the early stages of the ideation process, and are often followed by a debrief and synthesis session or by another gamestorming exercise to identify the most fruitful ideas given the teams business, product, or end-user goals.

6-8-5 has been used in design studio workshops for rapid ideation. This game is credited to Todd Zaki Warfel.

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11 Management Lessons I Learned Working At Google


11 Management Lessons I Learned Working At Google

Allow the employees on the fringe to be free to develop world class products

Allow the employees on the fringe to be free to develop world class products

Image: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Elbaz also said, "A deep culture of trust and respect, specifically for engineers. It's well known that a great deal of innovation is coming from the fringes of the organization, primarily these engineers that often have a very sharp sense of what users need, and are also the ones that need to be inspired to develop world class new apps. So much of it is about creativity, whether it's user experience or about the infrastructure need. It really has to be about inspiration, not some stick."

Make sure everyone is on board with decisions

Make sure everyone is on board with decisions

Image: Function Blog

"My biggest lesson from Google was consensus building. It's very much a democracy at Google, and it's vital to have the buy in of stakeholders across the company to accomplish business or product changes. So the skills of developing and presenting a well reasoned argument and reaching out to people to get their feedback and buy-in is essential," says Jon Steinberg, who was Strategic Partner Development Manager on Google's SMB (Small Medium Business) Partnerships team, and is now President of Buzzfeed.

Give people the chance to grow within the company

Give people the chance to grow within the company

Image: AP

Steinberg again, "From company culture perspective, I learned the importance of creating on-going opportunities for both perks/fun and growth opportunities. Asking people what they want to do and where they want to go with there careers, and creating learning opportunities."

Take HR seriously

Take HR seriously

Image: Business Insider

"Starting with hiring, where there's always been criticism of the legendary Google interview process. Like it or hate it, there is a process, and it is documented, measured, and evaluated for success. Interviewing candidates is an explicit goal of all employees and they are evaluated on the number and quality of their interviews. The interview questions and methodology is trained into all new employees. Results of interviews are documented in notes that are actually read by hiring managers and HR -- I was scolded on a number of occasions for insufficient detail in my notes. Candidate "packets" of all the interview notes are reviewed at the highest levels of the company and rigorous standards are applied before offers are made.

Evaluation is similarly disciplined. For employee reviews somewhere between 5 and 10 peers are asked to provide detailed feedback in writing and that feedback is reviewed by the manager and the promotions committee for evaluating salary, bonus, etc. Overall employee ratings are proposed by managers but then are "calibrated" against all similarly-leveled employees and forced into an approximately bell-curve distribution, thus reducing manager bias (ie. easy grading) and making the very best performing and worst performing employees obvious in the rankings.

Google HR keeps track of employee sentiment through surveys and closely-tracked retention rates and, unlike other big companies that do similar things, distributes this information widely to managers so they can understand how their departments fare relative to the other groups or the company as a whole.

And, of course, all of these HR activities are automated through home-grown web portals and tools so the hassle on managers is lessened."

This advice comes from Ari Paparo, who was a part of Google's DoubleClick team. He's now at AppNexus.

Make sure you have an exciting future

Make sure you have an exciting future

Image: Farazsiyal via Flickr

Gil Elbaz says, "In the end, the number one thing you can do to keep the bar high is to have an exciting future. Easier said than done to make sure that your future is exciting, especially when you're competing with companies like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, that also have very exciting futures. That's why Larry wants to reinvigorate the company in other ways to strive for excellence across many categories."

The Art And Science Of The Email Signature


The Art And Science Of The Email Signature


Email signatures are so easy to do well, that its really a shame how often theyre done poorly. Many people want their signature to reflect their personality, provide pertinent information and more, but they can easily go overboard. Why are email signatures important? They may be boring and the last item on your list of things to get right, but they affect the tone of every email you write.

Email signatures contain alternative contact details, pertinent job titles and company names, which help the recipient get in touch when emails are not responded to. Sometimes, they give the recipient an idea of who wrote the email in case it has been a while since they have been in touch. They are also professional: like a letterhead, they show that you run a business (in some countries, youre required to do so). Here are some tips on how to create a tasteful signature that works.

Be Concise

First and foremost, the senders header (the From field) should have a name, and you should use a company email address if you can. If someone sees, theyll suspect its spam. If the senders header reads, Steve Stevenson Mister Stevenson Design Company <>, theyll know its a professional email from Steve, their trusted designer.

Start by making your website a link. Many email clients convert email addresses and websites into links automatically, but not always. When youre creating the HTML for an email, make sure the link will appear by adding writing it in HTML. And instead of linking text like My website, type out the URL, which will be useful for those who want to copy and paste the address.

An email signature shouldnt double the emails length, so make it as short as possible (three lines is usually enough). Dont get into your life story here. The purpose of a signature is to let them see who you are and how to get in touch with you.

Make Sure to Include&

  • Your name,
  • Your company and position,
  • How to get in touch with you.

No need to include 10 different ways to get in touch with you. As in website design, less is more; and then theyll know which way you prefer to be contacted. Go to two or three lines, with a maximum of 72 character per line (many email applications have a maximum width of 80 characters, so limit the length to avoid unsightly wrapping). An optional fourth line could be your company address, but use caution if you work from home.

Steve Stevenson, Web Designer |

Short and Concise, but Check the Rules

In some European countries, laws dictate what items you must put in your email signature if you are a registered company. For example, UK law requires private and public limited companies to include the following:

  • Company number,
  • Address of registration,
  • VAT number, if there is one.

You can be fined for not including this information on all electronic correspondence and on your website and stationary. Many freelancers and small businesses have ignored these rules since their inception, risking a fine. For more information on UK rules, go here. Do some research to find out what rules apply in your country.

Steve Stevenson, Web Designer |
55 Main Street, London, UK, EC2A 1RE
Company number: 12345678

Dont Include&

  • Personal Twitter, IM or Skype details;
  • Your home phone number or address (unless you want to be called by international clients early in the morning);
  • The URL of your personal website;
  • Random quotes at the bottom;
  • Your entire skill set, CV and lifetime achievements in point form.

Random quotes are fun for friends, but you risk offending business associates with whom you dont have a personal relationship. Unless you want clients contacting you while youre watching Lost, dont share your home details far and wide. Also, dont share your personal contact information with your corporate partners. They certainly wont be interested in it, and you may not want them to know certain details about you. However, mentioning your corporate Twitter account or alternative means of contact in your signature might be useful, in case your correspondent is not able to get in touch with you by regular email.

Duck Stand Md Wht in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature Steve Stevenson, Web Designer
home: 613.555.2654
home (wife): 613.555.3369
work: 613.555.9876
cell: 613.555.1234

55 Drury Lane
Apartment 22
Ottawa, Ontario

skype: stevie_the_man
messenger: stevie_mrstevenson

I specialize in:
Web design
Graphic design
Logo design
Front-end development
UI design

Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is
worth the price.
-Amelia Aerheart

Dont do this.

Images And Logos

Lets get this out of the way now: your entire signature shouldnt be an image. Sure, it will look exactly how you want, but it is completely impractical. Not only does an image increase the emails file size, but it will likely be blocked before being opened. And how does someone copy information from an image?

All Image in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature
This signature is too big at 20 KB and impossible to copy.

Any images should be used with care and attention. If you do use one, make it small in both dimensions and size, and make it fit in aesthetically with the rest of the signature. 50 x 50 pixels should be plenty big for any logo. If you want to be taken seriously as a business person, do not make it an animated picture, dancing dog or shooting rainbow!

Most email clients store images as attachments or block them by default. So, if you present your signature as an image, your correspondents will have a hard time guessing when youve sent a genuine attachment.

The best way to include an image is to host it on a server somewhere and then use the absolute URL to insert the logo. For example, upload the logo to And then, in your email signatures HTML, insert the image like so:

1 <img src="" width="300" height="250" alt="example's logo" />

Dont Be A Fancy Pants

Use vCards With Caution

While vCards are a great, convenient way to share contact information, in emails they add bytes and appear as attachments. It is often said that you shouldnt use a vCard for your email signature, because as helpful as it might be the first time you correspond with someone, receiving it every time after that gets annoying. Besides, the average email user wont know what it is. Look at the example below. Would an average user know what that is?

Steve Stevenson, Web Designer |

Vcard in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

If you do want to provide a vCard, just include a link to a remote copy.

What About Confidentiality Clauses?

If your emails include confidential information, you may need to include a non-disclosure agreement to prevent information leaks. However, good practice is never to send sensitive information as plain text in emails because the information could be extracted by third parties or forwarded by recipients to other people. Thus, including a non-disclosure agreement doesnt make much sense if you do not send sensitive information anyway.

Keep in mind, too, that the longer a confidentiality clause is, the more unlikely someone will actually read it. Again, check your countrys privacy laws. Some big companies require a disclosure with every email, but if youre at a small company or are a freelancer and dont really require it, then dont put it in. The length of such clauses can be annoying, especially in short emails.

Warm Regards & Stay Creative!
Aidan Huang (Editor)
Showcasing Web Treats Without Hitch
web .
twi .
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely
for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have
received this email in error please notify the sender. This message contains
confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you
are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this
email. Please notify the sender immediately by email if you have received this
email by mistake and delete this email from your system. If you are not the
intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or
taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly
This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential. If you have received
this email in error please notify the sender and then delete it immediately.
Please note that any views or opinions presented in this email are solely those
of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Company.

The recipient should check this email and any attachments for the presence
of viruses. Company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus
transmitted by this email.

Company may regularly and randomly monitor outgoing and incoming emails
(including the content of them) and other telecommunications on its email
and telecommunications systems. By replying to this email you give your
consent to such monitoring.


Save resources: think before you print.

Dont Be Afraid to Show Some Personality

Although your email signature should be concise and memorable, it doesnt have to be boring. Feel free to make your email signature stand out by polishing it with your creative design ideas or your personal touch. Using a warm greeting, adding a cheeky key as Dan Rubin does or encouraging people to stalk you as Paddy Donnelly does, all show personality behind simple text.

The key to a simple, memorable and beautiful email signature lies in balancing personal data and your contact details. In fact, some designers have quite original email signatures; most of the time, simple ASCII is enough.


m: +1 234 567 8901
i: superfluouschat

k: h = home, w = work, b = blog, m = mobile, i = aim, k = key


The Site:
Stalk Me:

With optimism,
Dmitry Belitsky
/// Matthias Kretschmann     ///   krema@xxxxxxxx.xx            ///
/// freelance designer &     ///         ///
/// photographer             ///  ///
/// media studies / communication science & art history         ///
/// MLU Halle-Wittenberg                                        ///
With greetings from Freiburg, Germany,
Vitaly Friedman (editor-in-chief)
Smashing Magazine -
online magazine for designers and developers


If you can, stay away from HTML formatting. Every Web designer knows the pain of HTML newsletters, and while HTML is supported for email signatures, youll likely have problems with images and divider lines in different email clients. Some nice ASCII formatting may work in some cases.

carole guevin . editor
//// design + digital culture magazine
Min, Tran Dinh
Chief Creative Designer - Frexy Studio

Website: | Blog: | Email:
Cellphone: (84) 012 345 678
- --
Rene Schmidt -- Berater für Web-Entwicklung & eCommerce,
Linux-Webserver-Systemadministration & Web-Programmierung
Vordamm 46, 21640 Horneburg;
Tel: 0123.456.7.890; Skype:
Steuernummer 43/141/09180; USt-IdNr 219014862
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (MingW32)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla -

Geoff Teehan
Web Platforms  |  Digital Campaigns  |  Mobile Applications  |  Strategic Consulting

T: 416 123 4567 x 890  |  |
Dmitry Dragilev

ZURB | Marketing Lead

Follow our blog at:

Follow us on Twitter: @zurb

Check out Notable - Easiest way for teams to
provide feedback on websites.


Matt Ward
Echo Enduring Media

Web -
Blog -
Twitter - @echoenduring - Follow me!
Dan Rubin
Sidebar Creative { Director of Training & User Experience }

mobile: +1 234 567 8901
David Leggett
Tutorial9 Founder
Gareth Hardy
Graphic Designer | Down With Design
+44 (0) 0123 456 789
Grant Friedman

Follow me on Twitter!
Many thanks,
Yaili. | |
+44 (0) 1234 567890
skype: inayaili
Jonathan Cutrell, Editor | @FuelInterface | @jCutrell
All the best,

Rob Bowen
Copywriter | Designer | Creative Consultant

Co-Founder/Editor @ Arbenting
& Dead Wings Designs

Please consider the environment before printing this email.
Arseny Vesnin
Warm regards,

Dipti Kankaliya
{ }

Studio March Private Limited
12 Moledina Road Camp Pune 1 India
Phone: +91-20-26334002
{ }

MarchCast  The Studio March blog
{ }
This is an official email from Studio March Private Limited and is protected
by a disclaimer. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, please

Of course, if youre really keen to use HTML, keep it simple:

  • Make sure it still looks good in plain text.
  • Use black and standard-sized fonts, and stay away from big, tiny and rainbow-colored fonts.
  • Dont use CSS. Inline HTML formatting is universally accepted.
  • Use common Web fonts.
  • Including a logo? Make sure the signature looks nice even when the logo doesnt load or is blocked.
  • Check how it looks when forwarded. Do all the lines wrap correctly?
  • You may want to load your company image as your gravatar from as Joost de Valk does.
  • Feel free to experiemnt with your e-mail signature: Jan Diblík uses a signature with dynamicaly changed promo image.
Misterstevenson1 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature Steve Stevenson, Web Designer |

Joost in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Invert in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Matt2 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Maggie2 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Lukew2 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Email-sig-adelle in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Fubiz2 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Jad2 in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Caroline in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Chris in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Martin in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Nicola in The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Separate Signature From Content

Your signature should clearly be a separate entity. Wikipedia explains the correct way to separate the signature:

The formatting of the sig block is prescribed somewhat more firmly: it should be displayed as plain text in a fixed-width font (no HTML, images, or other rich text), and must be delimited from the body of the message by a single line consisting of exactly two hyphens, followed by a space, followed by the end of line (i.e., \n). This & allows software to automatically mark or remove the sig block as the receiver desires.

There are other less standard ways to separate your signature. While not automatic formatting, a line of , ======, or _______ or even just a few spaces will visually separate your signature from your email.

Dan Oliver (editor)
.net magazine (
Twitter: danoliver
Phone: 01234 56789
Address for deliveries:
.net, Units 1 & 2 Cottrell Court,
Monmouth Place, Bath, BA1 2NP
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Elliot Jay Stocks
Elliot Jay Stocks Design Ltd.
Registered in England & Wales #1234567

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Vennlig hilsen
Lars Bæk
Byråleder & Tekstforfatter
Storgata 15, 2408 Elverum
Mob (+47) 01 23 45 67 |
Information Architects Inc.
Tokyo Zurich

Oliver Reichenstein, Founder

Wrestling With Your Email Client

Offering general advice on signatures is easy, sure. But anyone who has tried to implement automatic signatures in Outlook, Gmail or Yahoo knows its not always that simple. Here are some resources to help you get yours right every time.

Changing Outlooks signature is a real pain, but heres a guide that teaches you a few things. If you use Outlook 2003, heres another tutorial on custom signatures.

Microsofts mail for mac works differently. Heres a tutorial on how to set it up.

Want just one basic signature? Heres how to change the text. Youd think Google would allow you multiple signatures, links and a bit of formatting. If youre looking for something a little more designed or wish to choose between multiple signatures, here are five ways to do it in Firefox.

Tips on custom images and more for Hotmail (Oh my!) can be found here. If you use Windows Live, here is a tutorial on adding images and HTML. The detail is helpful, even if the images are awful.

After a bit of research, I found that Yahoo used to support HTML signatures, but no longer. Heres how to change your signature using rich text.

Apple Mail
Here is a pretty decent tutorial, with some inline HTML for formatting. It then explains how to implement it in the application. You even get some hints on how it will look on the iPhone.

Palm Pre
Learn how to customize your message on your Palm Pre here.

Customize your Sent from my iPhone message here.

Some information on how to change your message on BlackBerry smartphones here.


Related Posts

You may be interested in the following related posts:


15 Killer Offices by Tech Companies


15 Killer Offices by Tech Companies

February 17, 2011 By Schwabe 14 comments

The Architecture. The construction. The systems. The layout & design inside. A new office encapsulates everything that makes software development happen. Here are 15 killer offices created by companies in the business of software & tech (in no particular order).

15. Twitter San Francisco, California

Somehow they managed to make their office as 'cute' as their website.

Twitter office

Twitter office

Twitter office


Images by Dustin Diaz via




14. Blizzard Entertainment Irvine, California

The most killer office in Cal ? The pics speak for themselves. This where the magic happens: from WarCraft, StarCraft, Diablo and a brand new IP still in secrecy.

Blizzard office photo

Blizzard office

Blizzard office





13. Campaign Monitor Sutherland, Australia

In 2008 the Freshview team, makers of Campaign Monitor, set out to create the ultimate office for startup developers. Then in the summer of 2010, they got another new office. Here it is.

Campaign Monitor office

Campaign Monitor office

Freshview office


via Campaign Monitor




12. Groupon Chicago, Illinois

Yada yada yada, Groupon is hugely successful - ok now checkout Micheal's room!

Groupon office

Groupon office photo

Groupon office


Images via




11. Dropbox San Francisco, California

Dropbox has grown to become one of the top companies to come out of YCombinator. Their brand new office in downtown San Fran is proof.

Dropbox office

Dropbox office

Dropbox office

via Dropbox and TechCrunch




10. 37Signals Chicago, Illinois

The 37Signals team went with an 'inwardly focused' office layout for their new office; freshly built in summer 2010.

37Signals office

37Signals office

37Signals office


via 37Signals




9. Autodesk Waltham, Massachusetts

A company that makes architectural software should have a pretty damn good office.
They do.

Autodesk office

Autodesk office

Autodesk office

Taken by Jeff Goldberg at Esto Photography




8. Netflix Los Gatos, California

Unlimited vacation time. All the stock options you want. Movies all day. And yes, a really killer office. Who wouldn't want to work here?

Netflix office

Netflix office

Netflix office

via HackingNetflix




7. Skype London

The Skype London office is a comfortable, classy place. Thing seem pretty laid back... do they even get anything done here!

Skype office

Skype office

Skype office





6. Zappos Henderson, Nevada

This company is awesome. Employees can do whatever the hell they want. They have even wrote a book about it. If you're wondering what all the fuss is about, take a look.

Zappos office

Zappos office

Zappos office





5. Mozilla Mountain View, California

Just because your business is based on open source software doesn't mean you can't have a ballin' office. Especially when you're as successful as the Mozilla team.

Mozilla office

Mozilla office

Mozilla office





4. Etsy Dumbo, Brooklyn

The artsy, crafty company has - not surprisingly - an artsy, crafty office. Even their business metrics are surrounded by vintage themes!

Etsy office photo

Etsy office

Etsy office

via Ty Cole




3. Teehan+Lax Toronto, Ontario

An interactive design studio based in Canada, the team recently celebrated their 8th year in business. Their new office is below.

Teehan+Lax office

Teehan+Lax office

Teehan+Lax office





2. Adobe Waltham, Massachusetts

California based Adobe recently expanded into Massachusetts with this brand new office.

Adobe office

Adobe office

Adobe office






1. Pixar Emeryville, California

This is a company in the business of film; but first and foremost they are in the business of imagination. Their office has been designed to nourish & develop it.

Pixar office

Pixar office

Pixar office

via Veerles Pieters, Lisa Diaz

Managing and Motivating Employees in Their Twenties


Managing and Motivating Employees in Their Twenties

110-Michael-Fertik.jpgI've been lucky to work with some awesome employees in their twenties. While that formative decade is long and dynamic for each person; in a companion post I've offered some observations on the differences between Generation Z and Generation After-Lehman; there are some consistencies in how best to manage and motivate excellent twenty-somethings.

Younger people are especially hungry both to learn and to receive affirmation that they are doing a good job. I've found the best ones are generally much more motivated by incremental education and acknowledgement than they are by a modest bump in salary. Of course, the same qualities that make younger colleagues so responsive to the education and praise you offer may also make them susceptible to negative feedback loops, so be mindful of the context into which you toss them.

The best managers of younger employees are people who would otherwise love teaching for a living. They prize helping others grow and tend to overexplain their reasoning for decisions. Rather than assuming that twenty-somethings possess enough experience or perspective to read between the lines of their choices, these managers take an extra few minutes to lay out pros and cons and diagram their rationale. Three short minutes of explanation usually make excellent junior employees excited, since they feel the immediate benefits of gaining insight into decision-making processes. It also makes them better at working for you and your company, because it teaches them how you think.

Really excellent managers of really excellent young people also set up regular teaching sessions for them on different parts of the business. Top companies do rotation programs for promising younger talent. It's hard to support systematized rotation in small companies. But small companies can set up mini-workshops to expose highly promising younger employees to different parts of the company. Early investment of this kind yields payoff fast.

Here are some other good ways to motivate and teach young employees:

Throw them into the deep end on their first day. Excellent managers of younger people give them decision-making authority on at least one mission immediately. One very successful Silicon Valley founder is reported to make everyone in his company "CEO" of something. That's the right idea. If they don't know how to do it, tell them to figure it out. The corollary here is that you can't tolerate learned helplessness. Even very talented younger employees; maybe especially the ones who have the peculiar disadvantages of hailing from privilege;may be tempted to ask you questions they can answer themselves. Make them sort it out for themselves. If you don't, they won't improve. And if letting them solve it on their own feels like too big a risk for you, reconsider assigning the project in the first place. There's always another mission that can be a better fit. As the necessary last step, once they have completed the objective, give clear feedback immediately. Post-mortems are critical accelerators of their learning process.

Publicly reward junior team members who are doing a great job. No brainer, right? The traditional way is to stand up in front of your group, explain what the superstar of the moment has been doing well, and thank her. Another good but rarely used method is to ask her in front of others what she thinks of an idea, especially when the debate has chiefly been among senior people. The question itself will be confirmation of her growth within the company, and it will raise her status in the eyes of her peers. She'll probably rise to the occasion and say something useful.

Ask frequent questions. When you're walking around the office, or standing at your desk, ask your junior colleague "what's the dumbest thing we're working on?" The fact that you're asking that kind of question will carry impact on its own. It will show that you invite and insist on truth-telling and on hearing bad news. It will stimulate younger employees to think for themselves and affirm their contribution of ideas. Sometimes the answer will also make you realize that something the company is working on is actually quite dumb and a waste of money. And sometimes the answer will surprise you in a different way: the employee may think that something he or she is doing is dumb when, once understood in context, it is actually quite useful to the business. When you hear this kind of answer, consider it a great learning for yourself: something has remained unexplained for the team. Use this chance to situate the "dumb" project in the broader picture of the organization's mission. You'll help clear up confusion and motivate the employee who thought part of his or her job wasn't worthwhile.

Younger employees are often shyer than their older counterparts, so invite interaction not just with yourself, but with others throughout the company. It's a motivator as well as a catalyst for developing cross-functional intelligence. A simple tip for a manager is to stand while you're at your desk. In addition to being good for your health, removing friction from "getting up" to walk around, and making you and your work ethic more visible, it makes you much more approachable during the day. I've noticed that traffic to my cube, particularly among younger employees has increased by roughly 50% since I started standing at my desk last year. Similarly, use company events to grease the wheels of intermingling. When you hold company-wide events, get a few of your more sociable employees (salespeople are often the right vanguard) to introduce different team members and get conversations going. It will be a big relief for younger team members, and it will start the juices of future collaboration flowing.

Give them personal attention. A simple and little-used approach that goes a long way is to call them on their birthdays. That's it. Just call and say "happy birthday, glad to be working with you, hope you have a great celebration." They'll be glad you remembered, you'll feel good about it, and it's a sweet thing to do.

Do not make the rookie mistake of creating false reasons for praise. Younger people have contempt for what they perceive as political baloney. Fake it, and they'll know, and they won't trust it when you really mean it.

Emphasize long-term rewards, and set an example. Rather than living up to their oft-reported reputation of being entitled ingrates, I've found that the best employees in their twenties perhaps particularly in the wash of the Great Recession admire those who focus on longer-term rewards. (See my other post on this here.) This is especially true of those who aspire to run their own businesses one day. You don't need to buy them copies of Marcus Aurelius. Nor do you need to live like a monk. But let them see that you are resisting some forms of short-term pay or comfort, and you'll get them fired up to do the same.

Set very short-term projects. Young employees have short attention spans. Blame digital nativity, social media, the Cartoon Network, or whatever else. But it's true and real, and you need to adapt as a manager. A good approach is to set weekly cycles so that every employee knows on Sunday night what she must tackle by Friday EOD. In some cases, set daily goals. You'll find it remarkable how productive a short attention span twenty-something can be. They'll pretty much fill the time they have to get the job done. Setting quick and predictable turnarounds will create high velocity rhythms and a happy, productive-feeling younger workforce.

Fire those who are not performing. Younger people are disproportionately affected by seeing others slide by in their jobs. Seasoned colleagues may read between the lines as to why a slacker is being kept around. Younger people often haven't developed those nuanced lenses yet. Excellent junior colleagues too often, too quickly, and too strongly come to resent their less competent peers and the boss who keeps them. Middling quality junior colleagues too often begin to emulate the bad ones who aren't fired.

For the same reason, fire toxic employees immediately, especially if they have any interaction with younger people. One toxic colleague can destroy an organization. Younger employees often haven't developed the ability to wall off the toxin.

Beware of setting up A+ 22-year-olds with 28-year-old managers. Too many late-twenties managers are threatened by super-smart colleagues in their early twenties.

And finally, wear authority lightly. They take it more seriously than you think. Rookie managers of younger people can easily mistake informal body language and sometimes insouciant communications style for disrespect. Don't. It's just leftover adolescent crap mixed with professional immaturity and generational sloppiness. They are following your leadership much more closely than it might at first appear.

Michael Fertik is a repeat Internet entrepreneur and CEO with experience in technology and law. He founded in 2006 with the belief that citizens have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. Michael recently co-authored Wild West 2.0 which quickly gained acclaim as an Number 1 Bestselling Internet book. He has been named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer for 2011

Dokumentenberge oder Bierdeckel


Dokumentenberge oder Bierdeckel

aufmacher_ajax.jpg Der Hype um agile Vorgehensweisen in der Softwareentwicklung ist vorbei. Vielerorts haben sie sich durchgesetzt. Häufiger jedoch ist heute ein Mix aus klassischen und agilen Techniken anzutreffen. Wie wirkt sich die Mischung auf das Requirements Engineering aus, und wie wird es in agilen Projekten eingesetzt?

"Unser Projektteam arbeitet agil." Die Aussage hört man immer häufiger in unterschiedlichen Branchen. Betrachtet man die Projekte etwas näher, stellt sich heraus, dass die meisten keinem streng agilen Vorgehen folgen, wie von ihren Urhebern vorgegeben. Vielmehr haben sich Methoden der klassischen Softwareentwicklung mit unterschiedlichen Aspekten der Agilität vermischt. Viele Teams führen ihre Projekte leichtgewichtiger als noch vor einigen Jahren durch.

Das Requirements Engineering befindet sich aktuell im Umbruch. Man muss nicht mehr streng nach dem Wasserfallmodell oder anderen schwergewichtigen Vorgehen spezifizieren. Vielmehr sind die Methoden um agile Techniken erweitert. Requirements Engineering und damit der Systemanalytiker müssen nicht mehr zwangsläufig kurz vor Beginn der Implementierung ein seitenstarkes und komplexes Werk von Anforderungen als Ergebnis liefern.

Das Zeitalter der klassischen Anforderungsdokumente, die ihre Leser mit unzähligen Seiten unstrukturierter und nicht formalisierter Prosa überschütten, neigt sich offenbar seinem Ende zu. Angesichts dessen bleibt offen, wie Requirements Engineering in der Ära agiler Softwareentwicklung aussehen soll. Wie kann oder muss es verwirklicht werden, damit es im Rahmen der neuen Bedingungen nicht mit veralteten Methoden zum belastenden Relikt mutiert? Wie viel Requirements Engineering benötigt man in agilen Projekten wirklich?

Weniger dokumentieren

Viele Projekte setzen heute einen Aspekt des Agilen Manifests besonders um: "Dokumentieren Sie nur so viel wie nötig, jedoch so wenig wie möglich." Für Anforderungen bedeutet das, Informationen wegzulassen, die früher zwar dokumentiert, doch von niemandem genutzt wurden. Damit reduziert sich der Umfang des Spezifikationsdokuments. Um eine Entscheidung zu treffen, wie viel nun wirklich zu dokumentieren ist, sind die Projektrisiken zu betrachten. Anforderungen sind nur zu dokumentieren, falls die Dokumentation die Eintrittswahrscheinlichkeit eines oder mehrerer Risiken verringert oder falls die Anforderungen unmittelbar für andere Rollen im Projekt und ihre alltägliche Arbeit vonnöten sind.

Agile Konzepte zur Kursbestimmung in einem Projekt

Das Ende des Wasserfalls

Das Vorgehen nach dem Wasserfallprinzip stirbt langsam aus. Projekte bewegen sich hin zu iterativen und inkrementellen Prozessen. Iterationen und Inkremente gab es zwar schon vor der Geburtsstunde der Agilität – nun sind sie allerdings akzeptiert und nicht mehr aus Projekten wegzudenken. In relativ kurzen Iterationen (beispielsweise drei Wochen) zu arbeiten und innerhalb der Zeit Analyse, Architektur, Implementierung und Test durchzuführen, sodass am Ende jeder Iteration eine getestete und lauffähige Version einer Software steht, bringt den großen Vorteil mit sich, Feedback schnell beachten zu können. Und – nicht minder wichtig – die Anpassung des Projekts an sich ändernde Randbedingungen geht viel leichter vonstatten, als wenn sich das Projekt in einem fest definierten starren Vorgehen bewegt. Projekte sind heute aufgefordert, ihre Scheuklappen abzusetzen, über den Tellerrand zu sehen und Produkt, Prozess und Vorgehen ständig zu reflektieren und gegebenenfalls anzupassen.

Die Erfahrung zeigt jedoch, dass Projektteams ein derartiges Verfahren erst erlernen müssen. Das gilt auch für die Systemanalytiker. Teams, die es gewohnt sind, in Phasen von drei bis sechs Monaten zu denken und zu arbeiten, können schlecht von heute auf morgen auf Iterationen von drei Wochen umschalten. Die Planung der ersten Iterationen ist deshalb genau unter die Lupe zu nehmen. Nicht selten verschätzen sich Projekte hier enorm. Auf die Frage, welche Arbeitspakete sich in den nächsten drei Wochen abarbeiten lassen, antworten Beteiligte mit viel zu vielen Arbeitspaketen. Das ist jedoch kaum zu vermeiden und darf passieren. Denn hier kommt erneut die Agilität ins Spiel. Agile Vorgehensweisen setzen auf lernende Teams. Sofern sich die Planung und Durchführung von Iteration zu Iteration immer transparenter und realistischer gestaltet, ist das völlig in Ordnung. Das Team lernt, was es wirklich bewältigen kann. Dadurch steigen meist die Zufriedenheit und die Motivation der Projektmitglieder. Grundlage dafür sind das Reflektieren vergangener und sich daraus ableitende Maßnahmen für zukünftige Iterationen.

To my friend who thinks I should not accept awards.


To my friend who thinks I should not accept awards.

To my friend who thinks I should not accept awards.

OLIVER REICHENSTEIN—iA to Twitter friends like me—thinks it is wrong for experienced designers to accept design awards. Oliver says:

All awards should go from old uncles (like me or @zeldman or who ever) to young people. They need it.

A fair point. To which I reply:

  1. When Happy Cog wins an award, it is going to young people. It’s young designers like Stephen Caver, Yesenia Perez-Cruz, Joey Pfeifer, Mike Pick, Kevin Sharon, Drew Warkentin, Brian Warren, young UX designers like Whitney Hess and Jessica Ivins, young developers like Jenn Lukas, Mark Huot, Ryan Irelan, Matt Clark, Aaron Gustafson, Tim Murtaugh, and Allison Wagner, and young project managers like Rawle Anders, Dave DeRuchie, and Brett Harned whose work is being recognized. (Apologies to young-at-heart Kevin Hoffman, Chris Cashdollar, Russ Unger, and Robert Jolly.)

    When I stood up with Happy Cog’s co-presidents to accept “design agency of the year,” it was on these young folks’ behalf that I accepted it. I am a vessel of their talent and of our clients’ willingness to support their users instead of making safe, committee-friendly choices. It would be wrong of me to refuse the award on the grounds that I am better known than some members of our staff.

  2. We work for these people called clients. And while Jane HTML may know of Jeffrey Zeldman and Happy Cog, Joe Client does not. Moreover, Joe Client may not know how to evaluate agencies. He may know little about web standards and “user experience.” He probably doesn’t follow you or me on Twitter, and doesn’t participate in our community’s passionate debates about everything from the proper semantics for sub-navigation to the value of eye-tracking. He doesn’t know from that stuff, but he knows that if an agency has won awards in a respected competition, that agency must know a little something about what it is doing. If our goal as an agency is to do and spread good work, it makes business sense for us to accept an award from a respected forum of our peers.

By the way, we did not enter the .net Awards, we were nominated for them by the community. Accepting the nominations was like accepting a compliment—the gracious thing to do. Not that I’m apologizing.

So much for “design agency of the year.” I accepted “video podcast of the year” on behalf of my brilliant partner Dan Benjamin, who creates superior streaming content for people who make websites. It is his work more than mine that was honored. And as for “standards champion,” I’ve already said who I think deserved that nod this year. But I accepted the community’s verdict with a blush and thanks.

Winning anything invites enmity; winning three awards is asking for a backlash. But I know that’s not where you’re coming from.

Are awards bad?

I used to hate awards, too. I’ve only recently started coming around.

Designers and creative directors I respect and worked for in the past were almost always winning and judging awards shows. Their work was brilliant, and the awards were a tool they used to balance their power against that of tough-minded account executives and clients. When a client said make the logo bigger, a creative director could turn quietly to his or her wall of awards, and the client would back down.

Nevertheless, awards shows are always political to some extent, and those who don’t win often find fault with those who do. Like you, I had a distaste for awards shows when I started on my own (plus I didn’t think any award show got the web). For over a decade, largely because of my feeling, which other Happy Cog muckety-mucks shared, our agency ignored awards shows.

But we are modifying our views on this, and not merely because we just won a bunch of awards we didn’t even seek (as well as a few that we did). Our industry needs real design discussion, peer review, and recognition. I believe in the .net Awards, as their partnership with A List Apart attests. They are the best our industry has.

Personally, I’m inspired to start actually seeking awards, because Joe Business gets them, and I like to see designers working.

I appreciate the purity of your point of view, and I recognize it as a discussion point, not an attack. We are friends, and you’re a gent. Maybe I am wrong. But I’m beginning to think we don’t need no awards, we need good awards. And when good work wins, it inspires more good work.

Whether you hate awards or love them, the most important thing is to keep wins and losses in perspective, and remember that you’re only as good as your last idea.

Creating an engaging employee experience


Creating an engaging employee experience

Friday, October 29, 2010 by shaunsmith on behalf of Smith+co


Zappos encourage their employees to be weird (image: © Zappos 2010)

More and more organisations are coming to the realisation that in order to deliver a great customer experience you must first create an engaging employee experience. There is no doubt that creating a powerful customer experience requires the full and continual commitment of the people responsible for making it happen. This article describes how brands like Zappos, innocent and The Geek Squad create wow experiences for their employees and customers and, in so doing, outstanding results for their shareholders.

The importance of bonding emotionally with customers

The essence of a highly distinctive customer experience lies in the emotional connection made with the customer. As Tom Ford said when he was Chief Designer at Gucci, a brand is a memory. It is how it makes the customer feel about the experience. Indelible memories are more often created by the intangible attributes than the tangible. Research by Ogilvy for their annual BrandZ loyalty survey found that companies &.successful in creating both functional and emotional bonding had higher retention ratios (84% vs. 30%) and cross-sell ratios (82% vs. 16%) compared with those that did not. This is a significant difference and one that is more than sufficient to negate the effects of the economic downturn. It is for this reason that brands like Burberry, First Direct and O2 have continued to grow their customer base and thrive while their competitors have lost market share and seen declining loyalty from both customers and employees.

How then, do you create customer experiences that create an emotional bond with your brand? The answer lies in having a great product for sure Apple would not be the brand it is without leading edge design but just as importantly, it is the ability to have customers interact with your products and brand at a deep level that creates true loyalty. Anyone who has visited an Apple store and received help at the Genius Bar or spoken with one of the highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic store associates would know that the in-store experience is a stage for the brand and the store people the actors who bring it alive. Just as with any theatrical production, casting, direction and rehearsals are essential to top performance on the night.

We have just completed two years of research with leading brands for our forthcoming book BOLD. The book tells the story of 14 brands who are challenging the rules of business and delivering highly distinctive experiences. The stories are told through the words of the executives, employees and, in some cases, the customers themselves. What struck us in conducting our research was the unusual attention paid to the employee experience by the brands we studied: brands like Zappos, innocent and The Geek Squad.

Cult-like culture

The qualitative research was supported by a survey where we measured the perceptions of the BOLD brands with a control group of executives from other organisations. The BOLD companies outscored the control group on the 8 dimensions and 40 practices measured in our survey by a significant margin. You will have to wait for the book to be published for the full detail but what I can share with you is that one of the dimensions that showed greatest difference was what we labelled a cult-like culture. Now the term cult tends to carry negative connotations. It conjures up images of fringe religious groups of some kind following the warped vision of a charismatic leader. But if we examine what makes a group cult-like the attributes are neither good nor bad; it is the vision or purpose that drives them that is good or bad and which provides the context for their actions.

One brand that has attracted an enthusiastic following of customers is the US on-line retailer Zappos. Zappos sells shoes and other items of apparel but that is not its purpose. According to Tony Hseah, its Chief Executive, the purpose of the organisation is to deliver happiness through wow experiences. He calls it their secret sauce. The organisation defines a wow experience as one that goes way beyond what you expected. One example is when Wendy Fitch, a regular Zappos customer, posted an out of office announcement in her Outlook saying that she was away on a charity run for breast cancer. When the Zappos e-mail letter she subscribed to, bounced back one of the agents in the call centre picked it up. During her lunch break the agent purchased a gift card and sent it to Wendy with this message:

Hello, Wendy, while working through emails from our amazing customers, I came across your autoreply. Normally we mark them as autoreplies but yours caught my eye. I just wanted to let you know what an admirable thing you are doing. We at Zappos are proud to have you as a customer and as a part of our family. Thank you for being a wonderful person.

So what was it that motivated that agent to take that action? From our research we would suggest there are a number of key factors&

Purpose beyond profit

This may come as a shock but most employees do not leap out of bed in the morning excited by the prospect of making more profit for their organisation that day. This may serve to motivate the senior executives but it rarely does so for the front-line unless they also happen to be shareholders too as in the case of the John Lewis Partnership. What motivates employees is feeling connected to a cause. That cause can be Delivering Happiness as in the case of Zappos or saving the planet as in the case of the World Wildlife Fund. If you ask employees of Umpqua, the community bank based in Oregon, what their purpose is, they will tell you making customers feel dealing with Umpqua was the best thing that happened today. Quite a tall order for a bank! The financial services sector is one that generally has low levels of emotional engagement with its customers.

Hire for DNA not MBA

We wrote about this in our first book Uncommon Practice but we found that it is still true for these brands. The fact is that there are many bright, well-qualified people out there that you can hire, but only a few of them will be the right fit for your brand. We tell our clients hire for DNA not MBA. In other words, find the people who share your values and teach them the skills they need. Umpqua advertises for employees in retail trade magazines, not the financial services press because it wants people who understand customer service rather than banking. Tony Hseah offers recruits $2,000 at the end of their first week of training to leave the company. Why? Because he only wants people who are passionate about the brand and committed to what it stands for.

Rites and rituals

Sustaining a culture is very hard, particularly if you are growing. One of the things these brands do is to reinforce their uniqueness through the use of what we describe as rites and rituals. Umpqua has a daily motivational moments session where everyone gathers to hear someone sing a song, tell a joke or conduct a short exercise in some way related to their purpose. Zappos encourages their employees to be weird which means they organise parties and theme events where people dress up and have fun. They engage in Zuddles which are short, motivational work-group meetings. Innocent, the UK smoothie maker holds its AGM (A Grown-up Meeting) where all the employees gather to hear the latest news and then have a barbeque. The Geek Squad, the computer support firm, uses language and titles to reinforce the zany culture whose sole purpose is to save your ass if your computer should crash. Their employees are called agents or double-agents and encouraged to share their stories of daring-do in helping customers through the intranet site but also social media.

Making it work&

You may be reading this and saying to yourself well, you might be able to do that kind of thing in the States but not here. You would be wrong. We have seen examples of brands that focus on purpose beyond profit, hiring for DNA and encouraging rites and rituals in the UK, US, Brazil and Asia. Of course, if these practices are false or forced, they become trite and will not deliver value for your brand; but when they are driven by a common purpose and shared values, when they are sincere, when they create a great employee experience and when they result in a wow experience for customers they work.

Shaun Smiths new book BOLD, co-authored with Andy Milligan, will be published in 2011.

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Xtra Zone App von Android Market entfernt – Geekness - closer to the world

Xtra Zone App von Android Market entfernt

ch habe eine E-Mail von der Swisscom erhalten, in der ich gebeten werde, die Xtra Zone App aus dem Android Market zu entfernen. Der Grund ist, dass die Swisscom (endlich) eine eigene Android Applikation für Xtra-Zone herausgebracht hat.
Ein kurzer Test der neuen App war jedoch äusserst ernüchternd. Der Startvorgang der App dauert ewig, man kann keine Kontakte im Eingabefeld auswählen sondern muss immer über das Adressbuch gehen. Hinzukommt, dass ausgehende Nachrichten nicht im normalen SMS Programm gespeichert werden (ein einmaliges Feature unserer App) und dass man keine SMS über Kontaktauswahl versenden kann.

Jeder, der unsere App bereits heruntergeladen hat, kann sie natürlich weiter verwenden. Nur leider können wir keine Updates mehr anbieten. Auch werden wir den Support für die rund 3700 aktiven Nutzer einstellen. Tut uns leid, aber die Swisscom zwingt uns dazu.

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren

Wie Ihnen bekannt sein dürfte, haben wir bisher Ihre inoffizielle Android Xtra-Zone App auf Zusehen hin geduldet, dies vor dem Hintergrund, dass bisher keine offizielle Android Xtra-Zone App unsererseits zur Verfügung stand. Dies hat sich in dieser Woche geändert, unsere offizielle App steht nun zur Verfügung.

Ich muss Sie daher bitten, Ihre inoffizielle Android Xtra-Zone App umgehend zu entfernen, da diese gegen unsere Nutzungsbedingungen verstösst. Widrigenfalls behalten wir uns vor, alle uns gutdünkenden Massnahmen dagegen zu ergreifen.

Ich hoffe auf Ihr Verständnis und verbleibe

mit freundlichen Grüssen

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