Recently, a gauntlet was thrown via LinkedIn by a respected content information professional, Chris Walker….
My reasoning for writing this blog is simple: at Systemware, we find great joy in fun challenges. Whether technical, proving anything is possible with 1s and 0s, or strategic, where it is critical to reveal the driving value of a business outcome, or marketing, where optics and perception are imperative, or in today’s case – writing a blog exposing similarities between Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971), a classic American sitcom, and my professional space….
If you are not familiar with Hogan’s Heroes, here’s a short description: The premise is a bit strange, it is based on allied airmen using a prisoner of war camp as a base of operations for allied espionage and sabotage against their oppressor. Along the way, Hogan’s team helps allied POWs and defectors escape their prison.
So what does this sitcom have to do with our current time and space of information management?
“I know nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing.” – Shultz
If you have legacy applications as part of your portfolio, do not ignore that people want freedom from under-performing and cumbersome business applications.
We need to stop presenting consumerization as some nice-to-have and make the digital pivot in business to free users from the madness of poorly built applications and processes. At home, our applications have long been highly consumerized. It is not because these designers have some upper hand but rather their business has the forethought to put “ME” in the center of each and every one of their design considerations. You do not have to be a genius analyst nor do you need one to see this.
What would Colonel Hogan and his band do? They would force that businesses recognize that the UX problem is real.
“Me, cause trouble?” – Hogan
A desire for great usability is not a generational thing. Your users must be the king or queen of well-designed experiences, period. Keeping antiquated applications causes trouble, and you risk losing your high performers. More so, continuing to do what you always have, your UX-focused competitors will accelerate beyond you, even taking your customers from right under your nose.
Much like Colonel Klink and Sergeant of the Guard Schultz, if left as is, these business applications can quickly become the caricatures of what not to do.
And what if you are lucky enough that your users do not leave?
“I don’t care to escape. I like it here.” – Corporal LeBeau
Do not underestimate a person’s desire to be productive. At the end of the day, people want to improve. In the case of Hogan and his team, they conducted espionage and sabotage campaigns unbeknownst to their warders bypassing the ineptitude of Klink and Shultz. In business, people do the same to thwart underperforming systems, an activity classified commonly as Shadow IT. An unfortunate term, probably craftily chosen to provoke a shady vision of a hacker. After all, hackers are detrimental, right? In this case, shouldn’t we use alternative descriptions that support a vision of improving our digital journeys? Encourage your teams to continually question the status quo, even if today yours is the best, most creative solution in your industry, your competitors will not remain static. They will evolve. Don’t lose sight of this or push it off to a back burner. Doing so never ends well. Part of your strategy should be to analyze where to improve, so you can gain long-term value from your processes.
At the end of the day, bad business applications and processes imprison our users from being great. Businesses have to start seeing their digital workplaces and UX as a competitive differentiator in attracting customers and talent. Done correctly, your UX can have positive impacts for your business. EMBRACE your Hogans (er…I mean, innovators) to reap the benefits of their efforts.
Thanks Chris for the challenge!
Systemware has designed a powerful user interface that keeps the individual at the center of our design. Contact us to learn how Systemware can help.