“The 21st century human factors organization touches so much more than the usability or ergonomics of a product, playing an integral role as the human-centered umbrella connecting the many facets of product and experience design. How is the human factors function creating a fertile environment for the human experience leveraging design thinking and other methodologies?”
Speaking session on April 25. Focus on Human Factors Engineering: Advancing the Human Factors Manifesto through Design Thinking, Agile and Lean. Design Thinking 2017.
In what way do you believe Design Thinking has made the biggest impact in your human factors work at Nokia?
Your question makes me think of a recent conversation with my daughter who is in junior high. She walked me through a school project asking her to pin point and discuss outstanding differences between her day-to-day life and her grandparent’s experiences when they were her same age.
She talked to my parents and diligently outlined a long list of things that we happen to take for granted today: some fairly simple, some quite sophisticated and far reaching… all innovations on their own right at a given point of time. So, I couldn’t help sharing with her samples of work pioneered by Nokia back in 1947 when Bell Labs set up the first Human Factors Engineering department in the American industry.
I must confess that I also conveyed to her the kind of pride that comes from embracing Human Factors as a discipline and belonging to an organization that has made a difference for the past 70 years. I let her know that we measure HFE’s project results based on outcomes that have a positive impact in either our lifestyles and work practices and that I account for both goals set by design and also unexpected effects that surface over time.
We are talking about user friendly systems optimized for ease of use, effortless operability and, first and foremost, for any of us to better interact with each other in context whether we happen to be present in physical, virtual or hybrid environments. We all leverage devices, tools and process at our disposal… which we sometimes modify and adapt or just create new ones. Note that all of this also means fostering our diversity, cultural values and collective well-being.
Nokia’s vision zeroes in on the human possibilities of a broadly connected world, jointly with a path forward that is sustainable and continuously optimized. This entails a firm belief on the value of humanizing a new wave of emerging technologies and the notion of transparent infrastructure that become pervasive and ubiquitous everywhere: 5G, cloud systems and the Internet of Things being some examples.
Human Factors’ multi-disciplinary approach is driven by putting people first and understanding and shaping technology as the means to an end (instead of just expecting users to conform to capricious implementations that show disregard for elegant sophistication and ease of consumability and overall use. Therefore, Design Thinking’s dynamic research approach equips our team with what I call “rigorous plasticity” – this being my flavor of a methodology driving (a) a user centered mindset and (b) a workstyle densely packed with the type of serial ingenuity that makes HFE a source of innovation and differentiation.
Design Thinking is clearly applicable in solving complex problems and catalyzing creative thinking. How do you feel Design Thinking has transformed the overarching human factors engineering organization?
At Nokia’s Lean Ops Program we apply Design Thinking to projects characterized by large scale end-to-end systems integration. We work with leading edge technologies to address network operations in the telecommunications sector, which happen to be among the most complex, distributed and multi-layered systems across industries.
We are conscious of the fact that the source problem statement and point of view that we start a project with might not necessarily be the ones that best solve and deliver breakthrough innovations at the back end.
In essence, multidisciplinary “co-creation” and “early induced pivoting” in the research and ideation processes make Design Thinking’s iterative and adaptive flow a solution driven engine. My experience is that it also creates what’s known as a backlog of “real options” in innovation management, while augmenting development capacity and overall solution quality.
How have you gone about blending design thinking, agile transformation and lean start-up methodologies in your human factors organization? There are certain similarities to each mindset, but how do you resolve discrepancies?
This can be best addressed by means of an example: our team doesn’t focus on Lean Startup’s Minimum Viable Products (MVP) as such since we place the emphasis on the greater value that comes from addressing the whole, this being a conventional Lean principle. Our language embraces the early generation of Minimum Viable Solutions (MVS) instead and in sync with Design Thinking’s holistic approach to an optimum user experience through the solution’s shelf life.
This mindset shift is not just about semantics. Note that it accounts for the sheer size, scale and scope of the end -to-end systems we work with in the Lean Ops program. Moreover, it factors solution lifecycle’s requirements because consumability is expected to evolve over time.
Let’s keep in mind that the high-tech sector is characterized by a rapid succession of technologies and alternative approaches often abound. Add to that the fact that the telecommunications industry is capital intensive and competitiveness relies on sizeable investments in long term projects… and in fast changing markets. Therefore, Design Thinking is of assistance with work on future proofing solutions as we work with end goals in mind, including repurposing and recycling at the solution’s end of viable life.
What value do you believe IQPC’s Design Thinking 2017 will deliver to experienced practitioners like yourself?
I’d like to first thank IQPC for engaging me as a member of the event’s Advisory Board early on, and for the invitation to discuss some of the work that we do at Nokia Applications & Analytics Group in the area of Human Factors at our Cloud Innovation Center.
Design Thinking 2017 has been structured to enable formal and ad-hoc opportunities for any of us to exchange insights, practices and experiences in an open, approachable and engaging forum. This reflects the pluri-disciplinary and diverse nature of the work that we all do, which sets Design Thinking practitioners apart from conventional silos and rigid frameworks.
Design Thinking is a soft methodology that explicitly calls for consistently going beyond our comfort zone so that ingenuity’s X-Factor comes to the surface and makes a difference project after project. With that in mind, the event’s agenda and speaker roster transpires the courage that it takes to approach each single project as a new endeavor worth diving into, and to do so in the midst of ambiguity, uncertainty and changing conditions while counting on Design Thinking as a serial innovation practice.
First published by the International Productivity and Quality Center, IPQC.
“Bell Labs created the very first industrial Human Factors Research department at an American company, back in 1947. The department was quite small, containing just one specialist: John Karlin. Human Factors Research is sometimes known as ergonomics, but the way a human interacts with a machine or a system goes beyond simply physical space.”
“Industrially, the practice of Human Factors Research combines psychology with engineering in order to refine a system and make it more usable, friendlier, more efficient.”
“Karlin headed the HFR department from 1951 to 1977. Charles Rubinstein, who appears in this film, took over the department in ‘77. Human Factors Research at Bell Labs went well beyond that minuscule core staff of the 1940s: by the 1970s, the department had a staff of over 200, and by the time this film was made, staffers numbered more than 400.” – Designing for People, AT&T Archives.
Nokia’s community fosters Bell Lab’s heritage by embracing Human Factors Engineering as an innovation engine. We are gearing up for this year’s company event on HFE, which will be held on December 6. This event is sponsored by the Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council and here is the agenda:
We would like to thank all of the speakers most sincerely for their contribution to this conference. This is a private event for Nokia’s worldwide workforce. The live webcast and the recodings will be made available on NokiaEDU, our professional development organization.
“At Nokia, we’ve always been excited by where technology will lead us. Our business has evolved to adapt to a changing world for 150 years, but what we stand for remains true. Our vision is to expand the human possibilities of the connected world. We continue to reimagine how technology blends into our lives, working for us, discreetly yet magically in the background. Today, we’re shaping a new revolution in how people, businesses, and services connect with each other, creating new opportunities for our customers, partners, and communities.”
“We’re weaving together the networks, data, and device technologies to create the universal fabric of our connected lives – where new applications flow without constraint, where services and industry automate and run seamlessly, where communities and businesses can rely on privacy, security, and near instant response times, connecting through the Cloud. Our distinctive Nokia approach to designing technology for people guides us as we prepare the way for the Internet of Things, and ready our networks for 5G. We create intuitive, dependable technology, to help people thrive.”
Introducing Lean Ops – Integration & Decision Support System
“Over the past year, #maketechhuman has featured debates about the exciting promises and ominous perils of humanity’s tech-driven future.”
“Leading thinkers, from technologists and academics to entrepreneurs and philanthropists, have shared their thoughts on how we can ensure that technology and society positively reinforce each other.”
“Now #maketechhuman is publishing an e-book to push forward the dialogue that’s unfolded in its articles, podcasts, videos, and events. Whether you’re new to the conversation or have been following along all along, you’ll find that debates around the future technology and humanity often center around five hotly contested fronts:”
- “Artificial intelligence—the most all-encompassing of all technologies;”
- “Privacy—how we’ll redefine it and protect it in the all-digital age;”
- “Security—how we’ll deal with an array of emerging digital threats;”
- “Equality—how technology can create and distribute this crucial element of human lives;”
- “Connection—the main reason any of this matters. We’re going to need each other, no matter what the future holds.”
“The #maketechhuman e-book breaks down these topics and explores the burning questions that technology presents in each case. Will artificially intelligent machines take our jobs? Is the Internet bringing us closer together as humans or further apart? Is safety from cybersurveillance worth the privacy tradeoffs? But the e-book doesn’t just ask questions, it also features solutions put forth from experts from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to Internet pioneer Vincent Cerf.”
“As we produce equipment that enhances digitalization, we believe it’s our responsibility to ensure our communications technologies are used to respect, and not infringe, human rights and privacy. We strive to apply appropriate safeguards to protect people’s personal data against unauthorized use or disclosure.” – Addressing human rights and right to privacy..
“We enhance the power of connectivity by creating product offerings that help overcome missing broadband connectivity, improve the resilience of communities to extreme weather changes and increase public safety. Our product offerings also support the battle against climate change.” – Improving people’s lives with technology.
“Becoming and staying relevant in today’s cloud environment is not only driven by offering more services faster, but also by understanding the emergence of new tectonic plates such as the fast shifting Carrier Cloud. This is a game changing paradigm, one which entails the underlying infrastructure and platform behind NFV, Network Functions Virtualization coupled with SDN, Software Defined Networking, at scale.”
“Moreover, the rationale behind engineering next generation SDPs, Service Delivery Platforms, and OSS, Operations Support Systems, in the digital communications industry has to do with delivering a pool of shared and fully automated network resources that developers addressing multimedia services (voice, video, data) with QoS, Quality of Service, do not need to replicate and can, therefore, take advantage of with the right SLA, Service Level Agreements, in place.”
“This redefines mutually beneficial “coopetition” where rich communication services are set to outdo or even make over-the-top ones better. A perfect match for Carrier Clouds purposely built to deliver a pool of shared cloud and network infrastructure: a programmable carrier grade fabric enabling the ecosystem to operate with unprecedented agility, unparalleled scalability and, equally important, at cost efficient levels. But what will it take to get there?
IIT Real Time Communications Conference & Expo – Program Schedule, Tuesday October 15 at 10:00am.
Tomorrow Tuesday I will be speaking at IIT Real Time Communications conference. I am scheduled to contribute to two sessions. The first one is a panel discussion that takes place at 9:00 am (see below). Thereafter, I will be presenting on “demystifying the fast emerging carrier cloud.”
My role in the panel is to cover the WAN, Wide Area Network, side of the story, which relates to how cloud technologies are impacting the more conventional network operator environment. Then, in my talk, I will further develop what the new carrier cloud entails and will position NFV, Network Functions Virtualization, and SDN, Software Defined Networking, as key developments in that space.
By the way, the above picture was taken at last year’s event where I also joined a panel. Back then, the topic I was engaged in had to do with a business ecosystem. Telcos and OTT, Over the Top, players did not yet see eye to eye for the most part. My belief was that we were already entering a new ecosystem where coopetition would become a fact of life for all of us. That should permeate through the value chain and, hence, happen in everyone’s best interest.
A year later, I do think that we are actually turning a corner for the better. The growing integration of IT and Carrier technologies is fostering one another’s awareness and understanding on what each brings to the table. That alone is changing behaviors on both sides by blending technologies and practices where it makes sense. We are now innovating at the intersection as well. Frankly speaking, many of us do not think that unnecessarily prolonging a debate in terms of seemingly irreconcilable bell-heads vs. net-heads is the way to go in what’s now the cloud age. So, I highly recommend attending Sarah Reedy’s panel discussion on Tuesday at 3:00 pm, which will involve T-Mobile’s Ahmad Armand, AT&T’s Mike Paradise and Comcast’s Ken Greene.
See you at IIT Real Time Communications Conference 2013.
“Panel participants will provide a set of defined perspectives that will allow participants to put each of the presentations of the Cloud Track into the context of the Cloud Service Consumer, Cloud Service Provider, and Cloud Service Creator. The Security, Resiliency, Performance and Governance of the Cloud will be woven into the discussion as examples are presented.”
IIT Real Time Communications Conference & Expo – Program Schedule, Tuesday October 15 at 09:00am.