Designing Better Decisions
Kim Goodwin closed UX Camp: Home Edition with the keynote “Designing Better Decisions” Enjoy!
The following transcript may contain typographical errors. Please forgive any mistakes!
Okay, hi everybody, thanks for hanging in there on the late on a Saturday afternoon or early afternoon for me here in California.
So it was great that Steven started us off talking about essentially designing better understanding, both within ourselves and among a group of people, because what I wanna talk to you about today is designing better decisions, how do we individually or collectively arrive at better conclusions? So I think that’s, of course, starts with… Let’s even I was talking about this morning.
So you’ll see that I cover a little bit of similar territory, but in a somewhat different way. Okay, so I’m gonna start with an assumption here, which is that all of us start doing the work we do because we wanna make things that are good for humans, and these days, I don’t really use that word user so much anymore, because I think most of what we designed, has impact beyond just our users and our customers, it effects the workers who make the product or deliver it, the service, and it often affects the larger communities that we’re a part of in ways that sometimes we don’t anticipate. So I’m gonna go ahead and assume that we all wanna have a positive impact on the whole collective of people, so that’s why I’ve taken to saying We wanna make things that are good for humans, not just for users, we can all only speak for the work that we do, but if we look at tech as an industry, how are we doing so far? I think that as far as access to information and services, we’ve done incredible things there, the world is at our fingertips, we have easy connection to our friends and family around the world, we don’t really need to leave our houses to do much, which is freeing for folks to have mobility challenges and turns out to be pretty handy for the rest of us when we’re under shelter and place orders, and I think that without things like cameras in our pockets and social media, there’s a lot of injustice in the world that we wouldn’t be as aware of as we are today either, so there’s a lot of good that tech does, on the other hand, I think we all can am ways in which tech has been problematic, right. I think we can identify ways in which software manipulates people and influences their behavior in ways that aren’t always in their best interest, I think that we’ve probably all seen the stories of how YouTube and Facebook promote extremism by literally staring people toward increasingly extremist content and groups I think we’ve all seen cases of tech companies selling our data or using it in ways that we use users would not really appreciate, and algorithmic in Justice affects how much access people to have to jobs and housing and healthcare and loans and all kinds of other things so on the whole, it’s a mixed bag, and yes, for my own entertainment, I did decide to try an entire presentation illustrated entirely with emojis, and you’ll have to tell me whether that worked or not, I don’t know, almost… Maybe not quite. We’ll see.
Now, some of you might look at that list and say, Okay, be that bad stuff, or really design decisions, and maybe that might be coming from a place where you feel like those aren’t decisions we can influence, those are coming from somebody else, and so maybe we don’t… Think we have responsibility for those ’cause we would have made a different decision, and maybe we also think that those… Our decisions, we can’t influence, we also think we would make a different one, but my question is this, how many bad design decisions to designers actually make…
I can think of a ton, I’m sure we’ve all seen the dialogues that try to shame us into clicking the right button right, because if we don’t wanna do the thing they want us to do, we have to click on something horribly embarrassing, like I hate kittens or I’m not very smart. Or other… Manipulative copy, right?
What about all the input forms that people set up profiles with that don’t let them express a non-binary gender or enter their last name as it should be spelled, because we have bad form validation because we’re only used to Anglo-centric names.
What about all of the sites with tiny gray type, because if you’re 20 something and have a 30-inch monitor, it looks okay, but if you have poor vision or a low screen, maybe not so user-centric a choice or the scroll-jacking, the parallax stuff that Marcel was talking about earlier, information architecture, likewise problematic sometimes the way we organize information and what we call it, can reinforce or undermine certain world views, and those were all designer choices, it… Nobody’s twisting our arms to do a lot of these things, and even if we look at our own methods, designers are not always perfect, right. Think about session replay from it, you can anonymously watch somebody’s browsing session, but at no point were they allowed to consent, they have no idea that people are watching them. Use the website. And often, they’re identifiable. So our own methods are not always particularly human-centered either, so… We’re certainly not Wilmot.
I think that we all have a comfortable fantasy, and it’s one I’ve seen a lot of going around in the last couple of weeks, is this idea that there are good people and good people make good choices.
I’m a good person. My friends are good people, therefore, they’re probably making good choices, they wouldn’t make bad choices ’cause only the bad people make those… And this isn’t real life, this is not how human beings are made, we’re not good people and bad people. We are all imperfect creatures, and we’re very susceptible to the systems around us, you can take otherwise good people and put them in a flood system, and you get very predictable results, and if you think about the systems that we’re part of… We’re part of a society or government, capitalism, white supremacy, all of those are systems that we’re part of, right?
We’re part of an industry that has certain norms around it, there’s medical ethics, there’s the way that publishing and tenure happen in academia, there are things in tech, like tech solution is that which is part of the culture that we partake in and help to shape our behavior and then each of us are part of organizations that have hiring practices and other things that create systems that were part of… So our behavior is shaped by what’s around us and not just by whether it good or bad people, that very binary view of the world doesn’t really serve us, because if we’re honest, designers make bad decisions every day, and if we’re honest, there are also a lot of design decisions getting made by people who are not designers, and we can argue about whether we call them design decisions or not, but let me ask you this, If on some day you decide you wanna work on your taxes and you need some information from last year’s taxes that you need to download from the IRS website, and you get this screen that says the website is closed, do you care if it was a designer who made that decision or not?
So of course, you don’t… Somebody made the decision, and that decision shapes the user experience, right?
So in this case, it was probably somebody in the contracts department who made a bad deal with a vendor about when the website was gonna be supported or not, that person made a huge design decision, there were probably no designers in the loop, but it was still very much a design decision.
So what I think we need to understand is that the user experience and the impact of that experience are not really the IA and the pixels in the workflow and the code that we all spend most of our time on, a lot of it is really shaped by other decisions that aren’t made by designers, the revenue model is a huge one, privacy and security practices, the corporate goals, the technology, the way that we had approached QA, the way that we hire and build our teams, and increasingly the way that we design and train or AI or algorithms, all of that stuff makes a big difference in the user experience, so if we really are gonna claim that title of user experience designer and not just interface, I think we really need to look at that larger world.
And the consequences of some of the decisions that get made right now are huge, what information about people is okay to collect? He said, Okay, to collect our location data for coved contact tracing, is it okay to collect that same data for law enforcement or for advertising, what uses of that data are… Okay.
Was a fair exchange of value. What’s exploited it? And what’s okay, when we think in terms of what people get for what they give up, is it okay, for example, that you can use Zoom for free if those calls are unencrypted and shared with law enforcement, whereas a few pay… They’re not a shared… Is that a fair exchange? So these are tough decisions, what the hail edges are, Okay, what can we do to suggest that people press that by button and where are we crossing a line and what’s okay for content moderation, like all of these things are swirling around us every day. They’re not easy decisions. Right. None of these are very simple, so really, I think our aim has to be in helping ourselves as individuals and as design teams, as well as the larger context of our organizations, how do we help everybody make better human-centered decisions, and that’s… It takes a lot. I think that starts with understanding how we decide, what’s the machinery of decision-making and what goes into it, how does it work, what’s broken about it fundamentally, how do we use that to influence our own decisions, how do we use that to influence stakeholders and colleagues and help them make better choices in the context of a project, and how do we start to work on the larger environment that creates all the pressures that help guide our decision making over time.
So those are all three pretty big topics, I’m gonna emphasize the first two a little bit more today, but we’ll jump in and I’ll definitely wrap up with a little bit on decision systems at the end.
So if you look at how we decide, we take in information from a couple of sources, one is from outside things that we go collect in the world or observe around us, and the rest is what’s inside of our heads, so that external information includes things that we normally think of as data analytics user interview notes, that kind of stuff, what our competitors are doing, constraints like laws and regulations, things that the organization sets for us, like goals or incentives, and then there’s some other pieces of in of external information. We often don’t talk explicitly about… And that’s just what’s happening in the world around us out of our colleagues behave, what are the fads in the design world right now, what’s everybody else doing that also is information we’re taking in, even if it’s not explicitly part of our process. And those things that we see around us all the time, that everybody else is doing, those things that are popular, the ways that our colleagues consistently behave, that’s telling us something, that’s telling us what’s normal in the world, and we have a little cognitive bias that says We don’t think as hard about those things that are normal… Just a silly example, if you grew up eating cheese, you don’t think about the fact that I’m eating Molly Brant and dairy product, right.
But if you think about it, it’s all weird, so there’s a lot of things that we maybe don’t examine that closely you for use to them.
So if all of our colleagues are doing usability testing… Oh, that’s an expectation. That’s a norm here. If none of our colleagues are doing in doing it, that’s gonna tell us, what’s the norm that’s expected. I think this might explain why people all seem to think that they need chat bots, for example, everybody’s doing it, so… Oh, they must be good.
What they’re really appropriate for that context or not, so we have norms that we take in ourselves and we have norms that we might have to fight against a little bit, as far as what’s popular and what other people will think is normal, there’s all that world all that information in the world, there’s also the information that we have in our heads, and unlike the information in the world, the information in our heads is much harder to recognize that we’re even using it, it’s harder to share it with other people and have them evaluate it, and so it’s, it’s a lot less conscious part of the decision-making process in many cases, but it includes a ton of stuff, memories, our goals are feelings, and our beliefs and our values all carry a ton of weight in the decision-making process.
Let’s start with memories.
We all have an internal pattern library that we’re comparing that site world against, if you have seen a problem a certain type 100 times, chances are you’re gonna make those associative leaps. Steven was talking a little bit about this associative thinking this morning, and that’s what expertise is, right.
I like this house times before. So without thinking too hard, I can predict what’s going to happen.
It’s a fantastic thing when you’re in a generative design meeting, and it’s why people with broader, deeper experience are generally gonna make better intuitive judgments.
The problem though, is that if our mental pattern library is small and narrow, that’s gonna have a lot of limitations, so if we’ve never done as… If we’ve never worked in a certain industry, so you’ve done only consumer software, your instincts, if you dump in acidic tech might be able to broken from time to time, if your experience is only working with people have a certain background, you’re just not gonna think of certain things, right?
And this comes into play a lot and hiring, for example, I see a lot of people say, Well, my instinct told me This person was a good or bad higher, which is the point at which I wanna pull out my hair because if you are hiring based on your intuition, I guarantee you’re committing management management, no practice, right? That’s a terrible, terrible approach because your pattern library is probably not expertise, if you can’t explain it, then you probably have an issue going on there.
So if you wanna account for these external inputs and as well as the internal ones at a few different levels, let’s talk about that.
So for ourselves, we have to think about what is the completeness and quality of my input, am I using good research methods to get a good set of information, where is my experience limited or bias that I need to get other input from?
And we wanna start questioning those norms and figuring out what’s problematic, where am I making assumptions, and Where are my stakeholders maybe gonna be making assumptions when it comes to influencing our stakeholders, we wanna use the kinds of tools that Steven was talking about this morning, or that Mathew was talking about in some of the conversations, techniques to build a shared understanding of the external information so that we all have the same reference point to make some of that information memorable so that it gets installed in somebody’s internal library, so it influences future decision-making, and that sort of thing. Over time, the system level stuff we have to do is to hire an Empower diverse team, because having people with that breadth of experience makes all the difference when you’re trying to make sure you’re anticipating all the right stuff, so processes, good data collection, promoting and rewarding all the right norms, that stuff is what’s gonna drive the system level behavior over time, so other internal information, clues, goals, what we want to accomplish, and A type though that we don’t often talk about, which is what we want to avoid, there’s practical stuff like making a profit or moving a certain metric that there’s also the negative side of that, what would be a bad outcome that’s often not discussed explicitly.
The other thing we often don’t talk about is the emotional goals, it, avoiding loss in pain, avoiding embarrassment, feeling valued, feeling in control, these are really under-discussed, feeling respected in process, and this tries a ton of decision-making, but we don’t tend to talk about it.
So one of the biggest emotional goals is self-determination or autonomy… Somebody mentioned this a little bit earlier in the day, if you look up all the studies about autonomy, most psychologists will agree that this is one of the half dozen or so fundamental human needs. We’re just not happy, we don’t feel like we have a good quality of life unless we feel so much in control of our own destinies, now, self-determine, self-determination is really made up of two dimensions, really, one is motivation, what is causing me to make it a certain decision. Is that motivation intrinsic meeting… It’s inherently satisfying, and I do it just because it feels good to do. Or is it extrinsic? Is it somehow coming from outside of me, right, if you, for example, have been a runner for a lot of years, running by itself feels good, you have an intrinsic to do, motivation to do that most days. If you’re somebody who’s maybe just getting started with an exercise habit, extrinsic motivation probably plays a bigger goal, right, ’cause you know it’s ultimately gonna be good for you, but… Oh, it’s hard to do in the moment. Right, if you take some of the discussions we’ve had recently about wearing masks in the pandemic, for example, that gets into another aspect of self-determination, which is where do we feel is the locus of control, if it’s a decision that feels like it’s being forced on us, from outside with external control, that’s gonna feel a lot less self-directed, of course, then something that feels like it’s coming from internally, so if you say You can’t come in the store with that wearing a mask, that feels a lot less self-directed, if it meshes with your identity though, and it’s something you consciously value, for example, if you can help people feel like, Oh, I…
I’m a person who cares about my fellow human beings and wearing a mask and keep them safe, this is a thing I can do for my fellow humans, that’s not quite intrinsic motivation, because once the pandemics over, we’re not gonna want… Where I’m asks, it’s not fun by itself, but internal control feels a lot more self-directed than external control, and if you want people to sustain a behavior or a decision, you want that internal locus of control to be what people feel, so external control, like a policy that says you have to do usability testing, for example, or you have to do… Your design system has to be used this way, that can get you compliance and that can be okay for a short period of time, so things that are prescribed in processes or performance reviews can work, occasionally they’ll work against you though, what happens when you tie bonuses to certain behaviors is that starts to actually undermine the intrinsic motivation, because if you think I’m doing this because it’s a good thing to do, but I’m being paid for it, it starts to drag that locus of control back to feeling external, and then that starts to actually undermine moving toward that self-directed scale, so bonuses are a tricky area that can be used badly in the business context, right.
But if we want our colleagues to be really committed to a decision and as they’re making decisions about how to resource user experience or committing to doing usability testing or any of these kinds of tricky things, we want them to feel as much as possible, like This is a decision that they value, they’re doing it because they want to… Things like collaborative decision-making process is matter, people feel like they have a voice in that process.
Asking people explicitly to make a commitment to something so that they feel like they’ve chosen it as opposed to having it be assumed that they’ll do it, and showing how something lines up with your identity is like… It’s important. If you feel like, I’m a person who does this. Then it makes more sense.
So a self-directed in feeling is an important emotional goal, right, so all of you, your emotional goals matter, another big driver of how we decide is what we believe, and there’s a lot of discussion about beliefs and values and how they’re the same or different, but I look at it this way, A belief is a thing that you think is true, whether is based in fact or not, doesn’t so much matter, whether it’s loosely held or strongly held, does matter, but a belief can be strongly rely held and it can be true or not true objectively, but it’s a way that we view the world, so as this is a belief, it also happens to be based on science, but it’s a belief, whether you think AB testing desert doesn’t work, or a certain group of people has a certain characteristic, positive or negative. whether an individual is confident or not, whether you will be rewarded for a certain kind of behavior, these are all beliefs, and they’re gonna shape what you value, they’re gonna shape how you behave now, belief persistence is the phenomenon that says, beliefs are hard to change, some beliefs are not so that if we don’t have much invested in it, if I don’t necessarily believe that Chicago has good chocolate, if resins me box then, Oh, perhaps my belief has changed because I experienced something different, that’s a very loosely held belief, sometimes though we have beliefs that were very strongly invested in, and these can be… This investment could be… I’ve made a lot of decisions based on this, and so… My reputation is tied to it. It could be, I have a lot of investment because it shapes how I see myself, right?
So if we’re gonna change a belief that someone has invested a lot of time in or has a lot of indent identity invested him, then what happens is, people see that change or that potential change in the belief as a loss, and so they resist it. So if you propose changing our process or you propose something that’s really at odds with one of these deeply held beliefs, people are going to be unhappy with it because they’re gonna have a very strong emotional reaction.
So in these cases, you have to address the grief to change the belief.
Now, I found this concept really useful over time, because if you’re trying to convince people of something that… To change a belief that’s just in the way of doing good UX, they just don’t think usability testing is helpful, or that they don’t actually believe a diverse team is important or any of those things, it can be frustrating to feel like they’re just wrong, they don’t mess with my values, they’re interfering, and that doesn’t help you actually make progress with changing that person’s mind.
I find though, that if I understand this person is sensing a loss, the world is changing under them, they’re recognizing that they have good on some level, that helps me to approach that discussion with more compassion and a bit more empathy, and to help them move past that point. So it’s valuable actually to recognize that people may be preceding a loss, and if we have a sense that somebody’s fighting something because then you’re losing something, we can think about, well, how are they approaching their grief right now, are they denying that there’s even a problem? Because they might have a loss involved, if they agree to change something, they’re gonna say, Oh, we don’t have an issue, that’s where you can highlight dis satisfaction, present them with mountains of evidence, sometimes that works.
Sometimes it’s about How is the current situation hurting you and… Let’s highlight that for you, that’s emphasize that.
Other times it’s about waiting for a teachable moment or regulatory agency slaps you in the face or you get a bad news story or something, and you use that to say, Look, some things may need to change here, if you’re trying to influence somebody who’s… Who’s angry about a situation because there may be… Recognizing that something needs to change. But they’re uncomfortable with that.
Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, Oh, you don’t understand it.
Yeah, that anger. I don’t take it personally, but it’s a natural face, sometimes people… We hit a bargaining stage though, where they say, Okay, I hear you, change needs to happen, there’s a nice easy change we could make, let’s do that.
That often will result in an organization or a person getting stuck somewhere for a while, right. They’ll take the easy path and real change one happen, so sometimes it’s a yes, and sometimes you take that easy step, but you maybe don’t make the bigger process change, but you have to think about how do you get them unstuck now, finally, there’s the other internal piece of values, what do we think should be true if belief is what we think is true values or what we think should be true, some of these are about how we interact with other people, managers should be hands-on with their teams or should be hands-off, our priority ought to be about accessibility or ship date or something else, these could be values about whether you do or don’t create space for folks who aren’t like you, what kinds of things require consent from users, we all have values around these things, things that we believe should be true.
Now, some of these values are just differences that you can work with inside of a team, so things like how close involved should managers be in the work, that’s not gonna prevent you from shipping a good user experience. Some of these values will get in the way of that, and those are the kinds of values that you will want to try to change, but you can’t change somebody’s values without figuring out what belief is that based on, and how do we change the belief… So you have to actually change the beliefs in order to shift the values, that’s part of a shifting values takes a long time. And it’s hard work.
What’s easier in the short-term is to figure out what are the values of this person and how do I appeal to them, How do I use those values to try to persuade somebody of something… So if there’s a van that strongly held or tied to the identity, you can often say, Oh, here’s how this decision I want you to make reinforces our values or your identity. And then people will go a, Okay, this is consistent with how I see myself. Therefore, I’m more likely to do it. So I had one client who whose company value safety a lot, and he was having a hard time getting faction for building out a user experience team, and so he said safety safety, ergonomics. Yeah, or gone as preventing repetitive stress injuries, that’s a big part of UX design, and they said, Oh yeah, that sounds like safety, and he started to get more funding now, he’s obviously leveraged well beyond that over the years, is he’s built his team, but that helped him get a leg up in that process, so think about what you can appeal to and what you can use, sometimes though, you’ll see a value that’s claimed that maybe not really acted on very consistent.
So for example, I had an executive who talked about something that he said he valued, right, I value… It was something along the lines of it, we do that, thanks for patients.
And I said, Well, when was the last time you invested in something just because it was good for patients, and he gave me a blank look… You couldn’t think of anything.
And then he said, Okay, you’re right. And a week later, he reorganized the company and shifted the investment priorities now, most decisions don’t result in a giant shift like that, and pointing out behavior that’s in constant… The values can be a little bit risky depending on the relationship that you have with somebody and what the seniority differences between you, but sometimes it can shift how people think when you reframe that conversation in terms of values.
Now, a lot of organizations have what they call organizational values, right.
These are a little bit challenging to work with sometimes ’cause they’re probably articulated often, if the company doesn’t always follow them, they’re not always credible, and the individual might really not hold on to those values very strongly.
But probably the biggest thing that we can do as far as fixing this situation is that those values are not specific enough for individual teams to guide daily decisions, so if you say in healthcare, do things that are good for patients… Well, what’s that mean? If you’re in the facilities team, does that mean if you’re the website team, what does that mean? If you’re managing patient appointments, what helps is if you can let people figure out how does that basic idea apply in my context, then it becomes their internalized value, which is the point at which it becomes powerful, it’s not this externally imposed thing.
So when it comes to the rest of the internal information, need to figure out what are my values and goals and make sure that we’re pretty self-aware of those and how they might be influencing them when we’re talking about stakeholders and our colleagues, we need to ask directly about values and beliefs as much as we can, sometimes those are a little bit hard to ask about, particularly the more emotional ones, those we wanna observe, we wanna figure out how to… Is this person having… Are they having a united goal?
Do they have an emotional need that’s a… Not being met often when I see stakeholders behaving badly and teams complaining about something that the stakeholders are doing very frequently, it means they have an emotional need that hasn’t been attended to, and trying to figure out what that is, will often help to timeout that relationship in general, I just assume people are gonna be loss of on and focused on wanting to have some self-determination, and so I generally will work with folks in ways that… That help to build those… On the long term, when you look at things systematically, you wanna make sure that your HR systems are promoting Behavior consistent with the desired values, and that you’re helping teams to build individual principles that will help guide their decision making, so the quality of this input matters, talking explicitly about the input matters, but the other thing we have to understand is what is actually the decision process, and actually as humans, we have two of them, and we have to figure out are we enabling the right one? Most Psychologists agree that there are basically two kinds of decision-making processes in operation at any one time, these are called type one and type two decisions, annual condom and called them System One, System Two.
I think of them as the auto-pilot in the pilot, right?
The auto-pilot actually does most of the flying, and the pilot is there to make the hard decisions, do the complicated things, and so relies on double check on the autopilot when… When it’s just not up to the job.
So the autopilot is sometimes called the old mind, this is the part that makes decisions, we don’t even think about lifting a hand to get your ball, turning the key and the lock when you leave the house, those kinds of instinctive things… Right.
It also makes pattern matching less things that you think of his intuition, identifying that somebody is unhappy thinking, Oh, this design solution will work here, ’cause you’ve seen it a bunch of times, work elsewhere. In similar situations, I associate of mine, it’s very fast, and it’s hard to explain where that idea came from, things… During the time, minds more than we should, because it’s not very good at complicated decisions, it takes a number of different kinds of mental shortcuts that can really hamper our Bilbao choices, and the first of those is in how it takes in data. If you look at that external information that we’re looking at, the old mine isn’t gonna process all of it, it’s gonna pick and choose, so it’s gonna pay attention to its first impression, you’re all familiar with the aesthetic usability effect, right. We think of it’s pretty… It’s easier to use… Well, that’s a first impression bias, we tend to think of looking people are smarter and more articulate, so on, so first impressions will matter, that first interview you do in a data set might stick with you longer than the ones that are later on.
Likewise, things that are contrasting with the rest of the world will tend to draw our attention, so that one interview that was very memorable, you at interview who was a real character, that’s gonna stick in your head a lot more… It’s gonna draw your attention.
This is why it actually matters how we design the presentation of our research results, for example, what stands out in that conversation, what do you emphasize that’s… What’s gonna draw the attention?
We also have a lot of confirmation bias going on when we go into looking at information, we will tend to focus on the things that confirm our beliefs, and so we’ve probably all seen as Hap and when the product manager thinks, Oh, we need to work on this feature, and there’s that one customer support call out of thousands that says, is a problem not… Yeah, justification. We have to work on this. It’s not that they’re deliberately using that process, it’s just the confirmation bias in action, so the way that we take in data is not unbiased unless we slow down and adjust that process, and the way that we make decisions with the old mind is also kind of challenging.
The old line is loss of verse, and so it tends to favor what’s Positively framed. If I tell you that there is a 50% probability of success, you’re gonna be like, That’s awesome.
If I say These are the 50% probability of loss, you’re gonna like, Oh, heck no, I’m not doing that. Right.
So we tend to appreciate positive Friday, we tend to be drawn toward positively frame solutions, we tend to be drawn away from uncertainty. I see this a lot in voting, people said, people say, Oh well, I voted for this person because the devil, you know is always better, so people will tend to go with the familiar… Just because they think they know what to expect from it.
We’re drawn to what other people are doing, especially if they’re people like us or people we like, because we tend to be relational in our decision, they think, and we’re also likely to pick the first good enough solution. So if you are hiring for a designer position, for example, you might say, Oh well, I’m gonna hire the first person whose things like they could do the job, versus am I gonna keep interviewing until I find the best person to do the job. Same thing with design solutions, right, first good enough solution often wins.
So there’s a lot of these things that tend to guide our decision-making unless we find a way around them, so we have to find ways to engage the pilot and get its attention so that it overrides the shortcuts because it only pays partial attention most of the time.
So the Pilot is the more sophisticated mind, it’s reasoned… It’s slower and more deliberate.
The pilot is the part of that controls are ethical decision-making, it’s our willpower as well, so the part of our brain that we’re using to resist that piece of coppice is the same part of our brain that we’re using to solve a complex math problem or to decide whether that very convenient, but maybe not quite ethical choice is the right one to make.
So the pilot has a limited capacity, so we have to figure out how do we use it in the best way, so the autopilot sends some information to the pilot about how hard is working, and if the autopilot says, Hey, I’m not… I’m working hard here. Boss jump in, that’s when you get the pilot’s attention, if the auto-pile says This is easy, it’s all good, the autopilot is gonna let past… The pilot is gonna let the autopilot recommendations pass by, and what affects that auto-pilot’s perception of cognitive ease is the information familiar, so we’re less critical of things that we’ve heard a lot, this is why marketing and propaganda work, if you repeat something often enough. It will start to feel familiar and it will start to feel more true, and so… Things people have been exposed to a lot. Oh yeah, blockchain must be good, right?
Yeah, what is both chain? no nos that. They’ve heard of it, so it must be good. Right, so we’re gonna tend to make decisions, we’re gonna tend not to pay as much attention to things that are familiar, our auto-PI that also thinks it’s easy when information is clearly presented, so again, if we’re packaging up research findings and we don’t want people to be too critical.
I pay attention to how the present it, if you want people to really engage with your design and think hard about it, don’t make it to polish, show them a messy prototype or an ugly sketch, ’cause it’s actually gonna force them to engage the pit a little bit more, right?
So we have to slow down the process, we have to add structure to make sure that we’re being thorough and how we’re taking in information and how we’re weighing it, so… All the kinds of tools that Steve was talking about, some of the other things that have come up today. Ways that we can make that process structured and shared with other people will generally help us make better choices, and when we can define explicit criteria for what a good decision is, that helps a lot as well, so that we have a think away against… So when we’re trying to make better decisions ourselves, we need to look at things like, are we doing too much analysis right after we start doing user interviews, or do we wait until we get… All our data are using structure analysis methods or just kinda spotting patterns by got… If you spot a pattern by God, that’s fine, but that should be your signal to stop and double-check, why do I think that’s a pattern? Why do I think this is a good design decision when we’re trying to influence our colleagues around this, we need to figure out what do they believe that I have to maybe debunk with some user research data, if there’s a point you want your colleagues to understand? Actually repeat yourself, because over time, repeated exposure will start to make it feel more familiar and true to them, and so there is something to that phrase… Truth by repeated assertion.
Right, so emphasizing important information, making it memorable, all that stuff makes a difference, templates for structured job interviews tools and training for data analysis and collection, stuff like that, all of these things will tend to help us make sure that that pilot is a way and engaged.
But the thing to remember, and yes, I use the word zombie, so I’d have an excuse to put his on Bein my slides. Sometimes the pilot doesn’t engage because it just can’t… Right, it has a limited capacity.
So our critical minds don’t do well with desk switching, we run out of bandwidth, we can’t process too many of these hard things at once, if we’re stressed by our external things like, Oh, I don’t know, we’re under a pandemic, or we have a medical condition, or we’re getting a divorce, or blood sugar’s low, right.
Those kinds of things can hamper our decision-making and make us less effective, the other thing that happens is that sometimes if you have been exercising the pilot a whole lot, it just gets worn out… This is called ego depletion. Right, so you’ve been resisting a temptation all day, your critical decision-making skill is actually gonna be a lot lower, so keeping sweet snacks in the kitchen all day, it’s probably not the best to encourage good decision-making in your company, it sounds silly, but it’s probably true. So part of the key here is to think about, is now at the right time actually to make this difficult decision, should I be making this choice right now? So maybe wait until tomorrow when I have a little bit more resources to make a better choice, like… So he casually have to think about When can the pilot just not show up?
And so eventually we make a decision, we get some sort of some sort of results from that decision that goes back into our external information and then that starts to shape our beliefs over and over, but of course, how we interpret that result is gonna depend on what we believe, to begin with, confirmation bias will play a role if we perceive a lot of loss, we might not be ready to hear it, so we have to do all of those things to make sure the bees are getting received in the way they need to be because over time, we have to change beliefs if we’re gonna make good decisions in the long run, and in order to do that, we have to take a systematic approach now, this is easily a talk in itself, but just to highlight what I mean when I say We need better decision systems in place as an industry and society, we need human-centered values to begin with, we need some ethical standards that we adopt industry-wide, frankly, and preferably can enforce within a whole organization. We need some broadly applicable principles, we need a diverse team of decides, and notice I say diverse designers decides and not just a diverse team, it’s not just enough that we have diversity in the room, we actually have to have diversity in the authority to make decisions as well, we also need the methods and processes in place, we need the specific principles that can guide people in day-to-day work, things like how we shape our metrics, the stories that we tell, the component libraries we use, all of that, also shape decision-making. Decision making as well, but it’s really all founded on things like the value system, so we have to do things that shape values, not just things that shape practices, and we have to really think about the emotional and the leaf side of influencing people, because so many of the decisions that get made are ones that we’re never gonna be in the room for… Right.
And so our aim really should be not to make all the decisions ourselves, ’cause heaven knows I don’t wanna make that whole list of choices and I’m not qualified to, but how do we make sure the people making those choices have the tools they need? So I think that’s what we need to work on as a whole as a profession, and think about, can we start investing some portion of our time in enabling that across the organization, ’cause the decisions that we’re making are much to consequential for us to make them poorly so that is what I had to share with you today. Thanks for listening. This is where to find me and I do have… For those of you who like to geek out on this stuff, at the end, there is a list of references in the slides… I’ll stop there.