A User Experience Business of One – Thnxz to @uxbooth

The story behind what we today know as the Business Model Canvas is an interesting one. Originally created as a conceptual framework for Alexander Osterwalder’s PhD project, it later became the subject of an entire book calledBusiness Model Generation, co-authored with Yves Pigneur. Today, both the book and the canvas allow those of us without business training (including yours truly) to better understand sustainable business practices.

Vía uxbooth.com

My application of the Business Model Canvas is likely atypical, though. Instead of using the canvas to aid clients, I wondered: what if I looked at my role as a business itself? After all, I need resources to operate (a budget, my supervisors’ time, my colleagues’ expertise); I have customers (people to whom I provide value); I have costs (my time, materials, stress). Could understanding all these things help me design more efficiently?

Full article HERE 🙂 !


To follow my logic, it’s useful to first understand how the business model canvas is laid out.

Personal Business Model Canvas Worksheet. Source: http://www.businessmodelyou.com

Divided into nine parts, it includes:

  • Key partners – Who supports you?
  • Key activities – What do you do to create value?
  • Key resources – What do you require?
  • Customers – For whom do you create value?
  • Value – What problems do you solve? What needs do you address?
  • Channels – How do you communicate your value?
  • Customer relationships – How you interact with customers?
  • Revenue – What do you get?
  • Costs – What do you give?Full article HERE 🙂 !

Using the original book’s sequel (Business Model You) as a guide, I thought critically about my role within my organization. Rather than rigorously weigh all nine considerations here, though – something for which the book is much better suited – let’s look at three in particular: customers, value provided, and key channels.

Customers: not just the end-user

While it’s relatively easy to assume that our customers are the same as the customers of the company for which we work, this isn’t strictly the case. As the book defines them, customers are anyone for whom we’re creating value, including:

  • Clients and stakeholders, who rely on us for our expertise;
  • End-users, who rely on us to represent their needs;
  • Software developers, who rely on us to clarify interactions and interfaces;
  • Other members of the design team, who rely on us for user research; and, finally,
  • Colleagues in quality assurance, who rely on us for specifications and clarifications.

Notice that end-users are only one item on the list. Notice, also, thatcolleagues are customers too. Couple this with the fact that we practice user-centered design and it becomes increasingly obvious why it’s part of our job to consider our team and their benefit.

User experience design isn’t limited to human-computer interaction; it includes human-human interaction as well. Before filling out the canvas, I instinctively knew this – that my responsibility did not end with “end users” – however, I didn’t know what I could do to serve them more effectively. That’s when I considered value propositions.

Full article HERE 🙂 !

About the Author

Evgenia (Jenny) Grinblo

Evgenia (Jenny) Grinblo is a user experience practitioner at London-based mobile agency, Future Workshops. A native Russian-Israeli, she approaches her practice with a sociological mind and a passion for facilitating team work. When away from her iMac, she is a foosball apprentice and an occasional speaker on empathy in design.

BY STEFAN LINDEGAAR: Open innovation is like dating!

While he was the head of Connect+Develop at P&G, Chris Thoen, said that open innovation is very much like dating. You need to look good so that you can become the preferred partner of choice among your suitors.I like stories, analogies and metaphors on open innovation as they can help better communicate the benefits as well as the challenges of open innovation. Here you get some of my favorites. Let me know what you think and please add your own. It would be great to have a collection of this.

Playgrounds and sandboxes: I often liken open innovation – and even more relevant today the use of social media for innovation efforts – to a playground or…

The Most Important Thing To Know About Conflict


Turning ideas about conflict, safety, and explosiveness upside down.
There is something my parents and teachers never told me about conflict.
To increase safety, move towards it.

I’m guessing that this idea, for many of you, is not only counter-intuitive but down right aversive. Certainly, for most of my adult life that had been the case. Just the thought of needing to “deal” with a live conflict would knot my stomach into a ropy mass. After all, stepping into a situation in which people were too angry or hurt to be “calm” (even when the people happened to be me) was volatile, dangerous, unstable.

Warning: Contents Under Pressure Tattoo on man's head

To help me feel safer, I found many effective ways to avoid conflict, or, if not avoidable, bring down the temperature of those involved through a number of effective “soothing” techniques.

However, the conflicts themselves did not actually get resolved. They just went under ground. And my subsequent interactions with the same people would continue to have that tinge of danger – the slight scent of gun powder in the air – ready to ignite with the right spark. Leer más “The Most Important Thing To Know About Conflict”

Essennovation, Part 2

Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. – IT Innovations Director at PwC

There was broad agreement with my thesis. Across social media sites and at water coolers, people said that, with a few exceptions, IT innovation was essential. When describing the ideal new-era IT professional, I said that business skills were a bonus. Many corrected me and said business skills were essential. I agree. What was clear–and certainly my intent–was that my blog focused on a very thin slice of essennovation: the IT professional and the role of IT. However, it got me and a lot of other people thinking: what other areas of an organization require a posture of essennovation and even more importantly, what industries are required to essennovate?

Jonathan Reichental, Ph.D. – IT Innovations Director at PwC

In a recent blog I argued that in order to prosper as an IT professional in the new, sobering world of alternative sourcing, new skills may be necessary. These skills are being necessitated by the changing role of IT within organizations. While it is possible to outsource much of the commodity technology and related services required by organizations, there is an increasing need for creative, complex problem-solving technology skills. This layer of technology need requires high doses of innovation and the attendant right-brained skills to make it happen. Rather than discretionary innovation for both the IT professional and IT organization, I called this essential innovation and coined the term essennovation. While my intent was to bring clarity to a common theme currently being discussed within IT circles and in board rooms across the world, I was delighted by the high degree of new conversation the blog provoked. Leer más “Essennovation, Part 2”

How to talk to someone you can’t stand

Dealing with braggarts, boors and the rest.

Matthew’s boss was inept and utterly irritating. As a way of starting conversations, the guy would ask if something he had just requested was finished yet. Then he’d laugh. Making matters worse, Matthew, a program manager at a software company, had to walk past his boss many times in a typical day – a recipe for daily discomfort, if not outright conflict.


Man and a woman argue in an office.A difficult colleague can make a work place unbearable. Photo: iStock

Dealing with braggarts, boors and the rest.

Matthew’s boss was inept and utterly irritating. As a way of starting conversations, the guy would ask if something he had just requested was finished yet. Then he’d laugh. Making matters worse, Matthew, a program manager at a software company, had to walk past his boss many times in a typical day – a recipe for daily discomfort, if not outright conflict. Leer más “How to talk to someone you can’t stand”

How to talk to someone you can’t stand


Man and a woman argue in an office.A difficult colleague can make a work place unbearable. Photo: iStock

Dealing with braggarts, boors and the rest.

Matthew’s boss was inept and utterly irritating. As a way of starting conversations, the guy would ask if something he had just requested was finished yet. Then he’d laugh. Making matters worse, Matthew, a program manager at a software company, had to walk past his boss many times in a typical day – a recipe for daily discomfort, if not outright conflict.

Matthew was a client of Dr Srini Pillay, a Harvard professor of psychiatry and chief executive of the Neurobusinessgroup, a consultancy that uses insights from the field of neuroscience to improve communications within organisations. Pillay came up with two survival tactics to avoid confrontation and ease Matthew’s pain.

The first, a kind of pre-emptive strike, involved sprinkling timely, innocuous compliments. “Nice shoes, Bill,” Matthew would say. Or, “Thanks for the memo, Bill, it was really helpful.” When spreading sweetness and light grew tiresome, Matthew would look for a third person or subject about which the two could find easy agreement: sports, music, food, even politics.

“Matthew was able to stop his boss in his tracks and derail him long enough to avoid listening to him,” says Pillay. “Without those strategies, he would not have been able to last at the company.”

Face it: some people are simply insufferable. With any luck, they can be avoided, but not always. So what do you do when there’s just no escape?

“Behave as though you are handling a poisonous snake,” says Dr Richard Pomerance, a Boston psychotherapist who has counselled executives at Harvard, Cisco and American Express on handling thorny personalities. “Survival is the most important goal.” Leer más “How to talk to someone you can’t stand”

Even mice benefit from brain training! | Brain Health


Working memory training has been shown to be effective in improving fluid intelligence in humans. Now, research out of Rutgers has shown a similar effect in mice. This finding in mice reinforces the idea that brain enhancement through neuroplasticity is generally possible among mammals, and it opens up exciting possibilities for future research.

Researchers trained mice on a task that exercised working memory and attention, and measured their ability to perform a range of mentally challenging tasks before and after training. The mice that received focused brain training improved on measures of generalized cognitive function compared to control mice with no training. The researchers, who recently published this work in the prestigious journal Current Biology, imply that you can think of these tests as IQ tests for mice. In other words, working memory training seems to have actually made these mice smarter!

For training, the mice needed to simultaneously remember two maze configurations, and be able to make their way through either one. The mice then completed several tests to measure the effect of the training on their intelligence and ability to learn. The training made the mice better at tests that didn’t involve mazes at all, like learning how to avoid an unpleasant stimulus.

So, as in brain training studies in humans, the mice didn’t just get better at what they were practicing – they also became generally more intelligent. This transfer of training is the gold standard in assessing the effectiveness of brain training. Transfer implies that underlying brain systems are fundamentally changed by the learning, and it’s not just that the subject learned how to take the test.

This kind of transfer has been shown many times in human studies — including transfer from speed of processing training to driving ability, auditory processing training to memory performance, and working memory training to fluid intelligence — but, this is the first such result demonstrated in a non-human animal. This is significant for a few reasons. First of all, it implies that improvement in general cognitive function with brain training is a fundamental capacity of the mammalian brain, not just a human trait. Also, this paradigm allows for research that is difficult to perform on humans. The environment of mice can be very carefully controlled, eliminating many of the confounding variables inherent in research on humans. Researchers can breed mice to have certain characteristics and even knock out certain genes and replace them with others. This opens up the possibility of testing the effects of brain training on conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease, for which there are mouse models. Many new avenues of research are opened by the demonstration of this effect in mice.

This result represents an important milestone in study of brain training! It reinforces what we already know — the brain is highly adaptable and can be improved with training, and it gives us new avenues to explore. We’re looking forward to seeing what this team comes up with next.

Joe Hardy, PhD


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How to Scan, Absorb and Process Information

1. Scan

Scanning is briefly looking over content, picking out only the most important bits to read.

This is probably the most important part of this learning method. It’s the first step, though it is often done in conjunction with the next step, “absorb”.

Not all content is appropriate for scanning, though, so make sure you take a quick look at whatever you’re preparing to scan with that in mind prior to starting.

Image by flippnjj

Look for Content Suitable for Scanning

Lists are particularly well-suited to scanning. Whether they’re bulleted, numbered, or in some other format, finding content that presents the information you need in list-form can improve your scanning effectiveness.

Just be wary of posts that are entirely list-based, with little or no other content. Lists should be used to emphasize the other content within the post, not in place of all other content.

The use of illustrations within a blog post or article can greatly improve how scannable it is. Well-chosen illustrations reinforce the concepts an article presents and can clarify points better than words sometimes.

One caveat, though: sometimes poorly-chosen images can only serve to confuse you more if you’re just scanning content. If the images don’t seem to be making any particular point, it’s best to either read the content fully or ignore the images all together.

Using font styles like bold and italic can make it easier to pick out key phrases within content. When overused, it doesn’t save much time for the reader, but it’s still a valuable way of picking out the most important points in a post or article.

Look for content that includes plenty of white space. This includes empty space around the text as a whole, as well as around headings and between paragraphs. Space in and around the text makes it easier to pick out particular words and phrases, and to read quicker. White space allows your eyes to relax, which lets you scan faster and with less eye strain.

The First and Last Sentence Technique

If the content you need to scan doesn’t include lists or other content mentioned above, you can use the first and last sentence technique.

This consists of reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph within the article. This technique is best suited to more formal text, where the first paragraph in a sentence is generally the thesis statement and the last sentence sums up the meaning of the paragraph and serves as a conclusion of sorts.

What this does is allow you to gather the most important points in an article or blog post without having to read the entire thing. It’s not well-suited to pieces that don’t have a formal structure, though, so be aware of that when attempting this.

Beware of particularly short and long paragraphs, too, as they can either cause you to read virtually everything in the article or miss important points, respectively.

Long is the Enemy

If you’re looking to scan information quickly, avoid long posts and articles.

While some longer posts that are well-structured can still be scanned, many longer articles have extraneous information that isn’t necessary to understanding the core information you’re looking for.

Another drawback to long articles is that they tend to go much more in-depth than many people need. Usually, if you’re using the scan-absorb-process method, you want a general overview of the topic at hand, not an understanding on par with those who have a PhD in the subject.

Long paragraphs are another enemy of scannability. Longer paragraphs have a couple of pitfalls. Longer paragraphs often contain more than one idea or concept, which prohibits the first sentence/last sentence rule from working as it’s supposed to.

These longer paragraphs are also often filled with extra information that isn’t vital to the core information presented. Conciseness is your friend when scanning content.

Look for shorter posts that are well formatted with lists, headings and subheadings, and styled text for optimum scannability. You’ll gain the most useful information while spending the least amount of time and effort.

Pay Attention to the Table of Contents

If you have to read something longer (maybe the only thing available that really covers the topic you want to learn about is a book), pay close attention to the table of contents to organize your learning ahead of time.

The table of contents will generally outline every important point related to a given subject, and can give you a great start on figuring out where to focus your efforts and what to take notes on (more on note-taking under “Absorb”, below).

Speed Reading

When you need to learn more in-depth information than what scanning will allow for, speed reading can be a great solution.

It’s faster than how most of us traditionally read, but doesn’t skip as much content as scanning sometimes does. The absorb and process techniques outlined below can be used with speed reading just as they can be used with scanning.

Beware of False Scannability

There are a few cases where an article will appear scannable at first glance, but upon further inspection you realize they’re not particularly well-suited to scanning after all.

A post that is just one long list is one example. Lists are usually scannable, but when that list has 200 items on it, scannability flies right out the window. Look for posts that use lists as reinforcement of key points, not ones that contain nothing but list items.

Another big scannability problem comes when paragraphs within the article only contain one or two sentences. Reading the first and last sentence of each paragraph doesn’t save much time when those are the only sentences in each paragraph. While short paragraphs are definitely desirable over long ones, look for articles where most paragraphs are made up of at least four or five sentences.

2. Absorb

Scanning information is only the beginning. Anyone can quickly glance over an article or post. That’s the easy part. It’s a bit trickier to absorb that information as you’re scanning, without having to go back over it half a dozen times before any of it sticks.

Image by Jean-Louis Zimmermann

Take Notes!

Taking notes as you’re scanning can be a great way to absorb what you’re reading.

Write down the main points as you read them. You can do this stream-of-consciousness style, with little formatting or structure, or you can create an outline. Choose whichever one works better for you.

Outlines can be particularly helpful if what you’re reading is already well-structured with headings and subheadings. If not, you may just want to jot everything down in one long list.

Whether you write down verbatim what is contained in the article or rephrase it as you take notes depends on your own learning style. Some people have to rephrase in order to retain information, while for others just the act of writing it down will allow them to remember it.

As mentioned above, if you’re working with a longer piece, coming up with an outline or a list of points you want to take notes on prior to actually starting can streamline and speed up your efforts. A table of contents is a great place to get the necessary information to do so prior to actually delving into the text at hand.

Mind Map

If you’re not keen on taking notes, consider creating a mind-map showing the relationships between the information you’re reading.

Mind maps can be more creative than notes and can further help reinforce what you’re reading and allow you to retain that information for longer.


Reflect on what you’re reading as you read it. This can be done within your notetaking or separately.

One of the easiest ways to reflect on something is to ask yourself questions about it. Then, go find the answers to those questions in a similar fashion.

Question What You’re Reading

As you’re reading something, come up with questions related to the text. Answer them as you go along.

The purpose of this is to engage your mind as you’re reading. It also helps to ensure you don’t skip over important bits as you’re scanning.

If you can’t answer the questions you’ve come up with, you may need to either scan through the text again or look a little deeper into the subject you’re studying.

Short Sessions

Your brain can only absorb so much information at one time. And that time gets shorter as you get older.

So instead of sitting down for a five-hour cram session, spend 20 or 30 minutes at a time, with 20 or 30 minute breaks in between. This gives your brain time to absorb, process, and store the information you’re scanning so you retain it better.

3. Process

Scanning and absorbing can both be done without much deep or abstract thought.

They’re more mechanical than processing in that respect. But processing is where we actually learn information in a meaningful way. A way that we can then apply to the project at hand and to future projects.

There are a few ways to process the information you scan and absorb, and choosing the right one depends both on the information you’re looking at and your own learning style. Read on for some of the possibilities.

Image by jez

Rephrase What You’ve Read

Rephrasing what you’ve read can be done during the absorption stage (while taking notes) or afterward.

Scan and absorb the information as detailed above and then write out a short paragraph or two about what you just read. Sure, it might remind you a bit too much of all those reading assignments in school, but there’s a reason you were assigned that type of thing so often: it works and really does help you retain information.

Try It Out

If you’re reading a how-to article, try what it’s telling you.

This type of processing is particularly suited to short how-to articles that have advice you can repeat over and over again on multiple projects.

Gain More Experience

This is related to trying it out, but gaining more experience in a particular subject can give you the opportunity to not only try what you’ve learned, but to also expand on it with your own knowledge as you learn more.

Look for opportunities where you can apply the concepts you’ve scanned and absorbed. The more experience you get, the more you’ll learn from just a few minutes of scanning and absorbing.

Dispute It

Argument can be a great way to learn more about something. This works best with opinion pieces or articles where there are opposing viewpoints or options.

When you read something, try looking at it from the opposite angle. Poke holes in it, look for what it’s missing or has overlooked, and then write down those opposing views.

One of two things will likely happen when you do this. Either you’ll find that the original information you read stands up well to criticism and you’ll have a better understanding of it overall. Or, you’ll realize that there are better approaches and you may turn in a new direction. In either case, you’ll have more knowledge than you did when you started.

Content Particularly Suited to Scan-Absorb-Process

Some kinds of content are better suited to the scan-absorb-process method than others. Recognizing the kinds of content that can be more easily learned this way is vital to making the method work. Any well-formatted article can be used with this method, but there are other types of content that are also particularly well-suited.

Image by GrapeCity

Charts and Infographics

Simple charts, graphs, and other graphical representations of information are excellent for this method. The key here, though, is simplicity.

Complex charts and infographics can be nearly impossible to simply scan and get any kind of accurate picture of the data they contain. Graphs are slightly easier and trends can usually be picked out even with larger data sets.

Non-Scientific Theories

People come up with theories all the time. From economic theories to conspiracy theories, non-scientific theories can usually be scanned quite easily as long as they’re properly formatted.

In many cases, theories are written out with tons of supporting information, much of which is repetitive. Scanning lets you pick out the most important concepts without reading a bunch of evidence that only reinforces what was said.

Be careful with this, though, as claiming a theory is valid without being able to quote any evidence can make you look like you’re willing to believe anything. But, scan-absorb-process is a good place to start when investigating theories about any non-scientific subject.

Scientific theories are often too complex for this method, though a cursory understanding can still sometimes be gleaned from scanning, absorbing, and processing.

How-To Articles

How-to articles (not tutorials) are well suited for the scan-absorb-process method. In many cases, they follow a fairly formal structure and often use formatted text, lists, and headings to organize their material.

Things That Work Against Scan-Absorb-Process

We’ve covered things that are particularly well-suited to scan-absorb-process, but what about content that doesn’t work well with this method? Some content definitely isn’t learned well in this way and will require a different approach.

Video and Audio Content

This one’s a no-brainer. You can’t scan video or audio content. Fast-forwarding doesn’t count.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step-by-step instructions need to be followed step-by-step. And scanning doesn’t really work well with that, as usually there isn’t much extraneous content you can skip over. The exception to this is when anecdotal support is provided for each step.

This can be skipped over, provided you understand the step without it.

Informal Opinion Pieces

This one has more to do with structure than the actual content. Most informal opinion pieces don’t do much with headings or font styles or formal paragraph structure, making scanning nearly impossible. While some opinion pieces might be scannable, the vast majority aren’t.

Pieces with Poor Structure

Structure is your friend when it comes to scanning information. Without well-thought-out paragraphs, lists, headings and subheadings, and styled text, scanning can be nearly impossible.

Luckily, in most cases you can tell right away whether something is well-formatted for scanning or not. If not, look elsewhere for the information you need or abandon the scanning and read the entire piece (you can still use the absorbing and processing methods described here).

Creating Content Suitable for Scan-Absorb-Process

18 Mar

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Learning new information quickly is very important to both designers and developers.

That being said, regardless of your profession and whether it’s for school, work, or personal improvement, being able to retain the information without the need to spend hours studying is an incredibly useful skill.

One of the best methods for learning new information quickly is to use the scan-absorb process method.

This consists of scanning content quickly, absorbing the important points, and then processing it so you can apply it to your own projects.

Read on for more details on each step…

Leer más “How to Scan, Absorb and Process Information”