Two interesting links
1. Overtime working at Flickr during startup days probably was ineffectual:
2. Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html
My takeaway point: the less routine the task the more detrimental bonus and incentives (and probably pressure) are to succeeding in the task. Can’t help but think about banking bonuses.
I also think about the “chinese army” approach to software like when Oracle put 600 developers on CRM and ended up canning it. It takes insight, passion, understanding and creativity to come up with good solutions. Designers who have little understanding for the problem/solution domain and/or lack of understanding the user experience will produce junk software. Even if those designers understand the domain and the users, if they don’t have the breathing space to come up with creative and innovative solutions, again, what they produce will be run of the mill.
I think data visualization and monitoring is so sub par because it takes creative leaps which few people have the time or mind space to come up with. Many scripts on the other hand or much more straight forward – I want this set of data processed with this algorithm. In this case pressure and incentives can produce quick results where as pressure and incentives on a large user interface like OEM or CRM produce a lot of junk. It’s really a question of charting new territory or not. If the work has a creative twist or something that’s never been done, the pressure is not going to help. If the work is processing a well defined input with well defined output then pressure is going to work fine cranking it out. Some scritps are routine, some scripts have beautiful creative innovated leaps but UI design in general is lacking a rich set of design rules and when rules are applied it can get out of hand. For example we use to joke that the UI department at large company I recently worked at was full of UI Nazis because of there rabid application of detrimental UI rules pumping out interfaces that looked like 1992 Web designs. Design rules made significant headway thanks to Edward Tufte but I feel that Tufte only started to scratch the surface of domain of visualizing information. Information visualization is a domain that is ripe for huge innovation in this day and age of information overwhelm where the solutions depend not so much on the information but on how we process and communicate the information.