Thursday, June 2, 2011

Selling Usability: Learning from the Healthcare Industry

I got into the usability field because I love visual design, interaction design, and the cerebral nature of the UX design world. But these days, I spend a fair bit of my time thinking about how to promote a culture of usability within our organization.

The question I often ask myself is this: How do you move a person, group or organization from zero awareness of a discipline, to a culture that lives and breathes a user centered approach?

Recently, I was challenged to engage with a business division to help them implement a change management and communication program. I was added to the implementation team primarily because of my background in communication, i.e. the advertising and design world.

When I set out, my goal was this - find out everything I could about Change Management in a short period of time. Turns out, the health care, psychology, and business worlds have been at this - for a long time. While I was digging around - I found a few resources with strong parallels to the process of evangelizing usability.

The most impactful resource I found was the Transtheoretical Model of Change, sometimes known as the Stages of Change Model from Prochaska and DiClemente. This article from the American Academy of Family Physicians is a great illustration. Family physicians are constantly challenged to help people change behaviors - and they have to be really good at getting people to want to change - all on their own. Or they just aren't effective.

This article talks quite a bit about taking different approaches for people in different stages of change. For example, their research showed that constant education, and communication of benefits is sometimes not enough to get people on your side. Parallel: Maybe we need a new approach - and just telling people how great UX is, and how great it will make their lives, is not enough. Read the article if you have a chance. It's written for family Physicians, but reads like a satirical guide to selling UX.

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