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EXPLANATION SHEET

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For further info, contact Andrew Hinton (www.inkblurt.com / inkblurt@gmail.com)

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Legend for Rank Summary:

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1 = very locked down; 2 = moderately open; 3 = very open within reason

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a=agency; c=corporate (not a design company)

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Background:

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Earlier in September 07, I sent an email to the IxDA list asking about people's work environments. My purpose was to get a quick, anecdotal (and very informal) read on what sorts of environments user experience designers deal with. (See below for a copy of the email.)

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The result: I went through all 45 (!) responses, and did a ranking from 1-3 on each of the issues -- openness of work computer/system; access to external sites & communication tools; ability to modify physical work environment. Where "1" is very locked down and "3" is very open within reason. It's not very granular, but it gives a general idea. You can see those results on the "Rank Summary" Sheet. Also I quoted, anonymously (with no identifying info) a number of people's comments, that I found interesting or enlightening. There were lots of great comments, but I just grabbed a sample.

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In retrospect, I wish I'd been a little more granular with that question -- since some "internal" folks are in large consultancies, or in subsidiaries that play an agency role. So where I could tell that someone was actually in an internal role in a corporation that works as a software design firm or agency, I noted them as "a" for agency rather than "c" for corporate. But I couldn't tell in all cases. I suspect even more of the "c" folks are really "a" folks in this scheme.

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As most anyone might expect, it looks as if the places that are generally thought of as more innovative have much more openness in their environments. Non-design corporations, while their business depends a great deal on quality user experiences, tend to lock down their design groups just as much as they lock down the rest of their companies. There are a few exceptions, where subsidiaries or separate divisions have been given specialized environments for R&D and design, but these exceptions were all technology companies, as far as I could tell.

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My own take: there's more than just a correlation between innovation and open design environments -- there's definite causation. One reason why agencies and consultancies bring more innovative quality to user experience design is the infrastructure and openness of their environments -- the conditions under which they work. Talent, methods and experience of course play a huge role, but put those talents, methods and experience in a locked-down environment, and the value of their efforts devolves over time.

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That's my gut-level thought on the subject, anyway.

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Thanks to everyone who provided info for this!

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- Andrew Hinton -- www.inkblurt.com

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Here's the email I sent originally:

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I'm collecting some anecdotal data on the sorts of environments we work in.

If you don't mind taking a moment, could you answer these questions?

PLEASE respond to me directly. I'll be happy to summarize and share with the list.


1. Are you allowed to try out software (apps, platforms, tools) on your company computer with minimal hassle?

2. Can you use social software tools? (Linked In, Facebook, Instant Messenger, Wikis, Blogs, etc?) Only some of them?

3. Are you or your team allowed to change your physical work space? (Move things, move lighting, restructure, add furniture/fixtures,
etc?)

4. Are you freelance, in a consultant/agency group, or an "Innie" (an internal employee of your 'client')?

Thanks a million!


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Andrew Hinton
inkblurt.com