Because it’s Friday: “Fake Apple Store” by Improv Everywhere

The folks at Improv Everywhere decided that as the iconic glass cube Apple Store on 5th Avenue, NY was closed for refurbishment they would open another one – using a subway elevator.

They even created a queue of people waiting to get the new iPhone X, people love to join a queue:

Repeating Under-Performance – We All Do It

You are an under-performer.

You are performing below your optimum, I can guarantee it.

There are many things that you do every day that you could do more efficiently, fast and better.

Some inefficiencies are seen, others you are unaware of.

One of my repeated inefficiencies goes like this.

  1. A remind pops up on my device to tell me that I’m due to join a meeting.
  2. I double-click on the meeting, opening up the invitation
  3. I scroll down to find the link for joining the meeting which are somewhere in the text of the meeting:join-skype-meeting
  4. I then click on the link to Join Skype Meeting.

It’s a simple four step process, but it’s a 25% inefficient process if I use steps as the simplistic measure of process flow. Step 3 is nugatory.

That’s not all though, my simple measure of efficiency is missing the fact that the scrolling down activity takes the longest of all of the steps to complete.

I must have repeated this set of tasks thousands of times. They are so deeply ingrained in my process memory that I don’t even challenge them.

So why is step 3 nugatory?

The efficient process goes like this:

  1. A remind pops up on my device to tell me that I’m due to join a meeting.
  2. I click on the meeting reminder.
  3. I then click on the Join Online button that is shown in the reminder and join the meeting: join-online

It’s a trivial example, but these are the things the we do every day that make us under-performers. Or do they? Is this type of efficiency a good measure of performance? I wonder.

“Wow, when did I become so impatient?”

The other day I was listening to a podcast in my car via my iPhone connected to the Bluetooth enabled in-car entertainment system.

I quite regularly listen to podcasts and audiobooks. It’s great way of filling the time with valuable input.

This particular podcast was very interesting, the interviewer was talking with a woman about some of the struggles and delights in her life. Most people would regard this woman as highly successful and yet by pealing back a few of the layers it was clear that not everything in her life had been plain sailing despite the outward appearance.

The interviewer wrapped up with a helpful end of podcast summary and then is happen – silence.

I looked down at my in-car entertainment system screen to see that the podcast file still had another 3 minutes to run, but the content had finished!

“That’s fine” I thought to myself “I can press the next-track button on my steering-wheel.” So I did, but nothing happened!

This occasionally happens in my car. It’s normally with the podcast application, but also happens with other. My iPhone is quite happily playing, but the controls aren’t working.

I looked back at my screen 2:50.

Like many modern entertainment systems there are different ways of achieving the same thing, so I tried those in the vain attempt that one of them would recognise my desire to move on to the next podcast.

I looked back at my screen 2:40.

I was on the motorway by now and the thought of reaching over for my iPhone flashed through my mind. I knew that if I could just press in the right place on the screen it would take me to the next podcast.

It was about now that I started coming to my senses.

I looked back at my screen 2:35.

Time to start talking to myself:

“What am I thinking? What priority am I putting on these few minutes?

“Why does the silence bother me so much? Another podcast will be along in just a short while, relax and enjoy this precious moment. Look at all of those people desperate to speed past you on this road so that they can get there just a few moments earlier.”

I looked back at my screen 2:33.

“Why would you even think of reaching for your phone? It’s such a dangerous thing to do, imagine if you’d been in an accident just because you wanted to get to the next podcast. Would the risk be worth the reward? Of course not.

“Wow, when did  become so impatient?”

I looked back at my screen 2:31.

I reached over and turned off my in-car entertainment system.

Because it’s Friday: An Alphabet of Brands

Designer Vinicius Araújo has created an Alphabet of Brands which renders each letter, using a Helvetica form, in the style of an electronics brand that represents that letter.

  • B for Beats
  • D for Dell
  • J for JBL
  • X for Xerox
  • you get the idea..

It’s amazing how evident the aesthetic styles are in these beautifully done renditions.

Watch out for a few animations as well.

Via Colossal:

Concept of the Day: The Tragedy of the Commons

I like concepts that have a history and this one dates back to 1833 and an economist called William Forster Lloyd.

The concept refers to a hypothetical situation where unregulated grazing on common land could create a situation where an individual herder, acting in their own interest and within their rights, could result in overgrazing. The overgrazing would then result in a tragedy for the group of people who use that common.

(In the UK Common Land, the commons, is land that is available for use by the Commoners for a particular activity. Livestock grazing was, and still is, a regular use for common land. The origins of common land go back to medieval time and thus some land has been grazed by Commoners for hundreds of years.)

Over the years the commons has become a metaphor for many situations where a resource is shared.

A great technology example of the tragedy of the commons is email SPAM. The actions of a few people significantly degrades the value of the email utility for the majority and results in a cost to everyone who uses it.

In the UK there’s been a lot of news coverage recently about the overuse of antibiotics, particularly people going in to their doctors and demanding medication even though they are of no value to their condition. The actions of these individuals has contributed to the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria which is highly likely to result in the common value of antibiotics being destroyed for the majority.

There are so many business situations where the tragedy applies. I’ve seen many teams fail to be effective because an individual was optimising their activities to the detriment of the group.

Put simply, the tragedy of the commons applies to those situations where people’s personal short term interests are at odds with the longer-term interests of the group. I’m sure you can think of many, many more examples?

Managing the white-space | Leaving the smaller screens behind in iOS 11

One of the things I’ve noticed as the user of both an older and a newer iPhone is that the 4.7″ screen that is on the iPhone 6/7/8 is now the baseline standard being used for iOS design decisions.

In iOS 11 Apple have made a number of design decisions that increase the amount of screen being used by items.

In the AppStore, as an example, the icons have got bigger and the titles have got bigger, so that the number of apps you see in the Update section have reduced and the titles are often truncated on a 4″ iPhone 5/5S:

AppStore Updates on the iPhone 5S 4″ Screen with iOS 11.

Another example of the design choices being made is the lock screen and associated notifications. If you have a clock on your lock screen and you are playing some audio then notifications are almost useless because you only get part of the first notification without scrolling:

Lock Screen
Lock Screen on the iPhone 5S 4″ Screen with iOS 11

Screen design decisions are a balance between content and white-space, white-space is the space between the content. Good design is defined by the white-space more than the content. That’s where the iOS 11 design decisions are being driven from, as screens have got bigger on the iPhone 6/7/8 (4.7″) and the 6/7/9 Plus (5.5″) Apple are increasing the amount of white-space so that the design stays good on those devices.

Anyone who has used a corporate application will know how awful it is when white-space is ignored and content is crammed on to screens. Apple could have used the extra screen space on the newer iPhone models to squeeze in more content, which I’m sure they’ve done, but they’ve balanced it with an increase in white-space. Those design decisions mean that the content on the 4″ screen feels like it’s a bit too spaced out.

Because it’s Friday: Blue Planet II: The Prequel

I once spent a very memorable evening in a 21,000 seat arena in Manchester where the biggest screen I have ever seen covered the whole of one side.

Sat below the screen, dwarfed by it’s scale, was a full classical orchestra.

The orchestra was there to play the original soundtrack to accompany the stunning Blue Planet visuals on the screen. The visual and auditory effect was stunning.

We’ll soon be watching Blue Planet II, but before that here’s a prequel: