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Apply a Design Perspective to IT Projects to be a More Effective Leader

So you want to apply the design perspective to IT projects? It might be easier than you think. According to a TechRepublic article by Patrick Gray, many IT pros already adhere to the same core principles as artists and designers – or do they?

Who Put the U in User?

Gray says that getting past the lingo of the design field will uncover the fact that all design methodologies, like most IT methodologies, are thoroughly user-centered. Unfortunately, not all IT strategies are really user-centered. Though in principle every IT project is for a group of end users, considerations such as cost, capabilities, management traditions, and architecture constraints tend to intervene.

A Technology Designed for U

By contrast, designers put the end user first by using a kind of rapid prototyping similar to the iterative Agile approach of IT development. Generally, IT pros do not share the artistic capabilities of designers, but they do share a common set of project mapping and prototyping tools / processes. It’s not necessary that IT people become like designers. Rather, Gray suggests adopting a more iterative and user-centered approach that still takes account of the possibilities and limitations of technology:

A user-focused philosophy is not a panacea. If you've worked with designers, you've likely found that some of their suggestions ignore what's possible with today's technology, or focus on a design tweak that's not worth the effort and cost to implement. This is where IT's traditional discipline around cost, technology, and scheduling can complement a user-focused philosophy and generate a management philosophy that's vastly greater than the sum of its parts.

Consider the Humans, Please

The best approach to adopting a design methodology is to consult with designers about user specifications and to consult them early. Nowhere in the process is it more important to consider those “pesky humans” who must, in the absence of good design, be expensively change managed as an afterthought.

U can read the full article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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