The Evolution of Reflections

A small UX feature can have a positive mental impact while working within teams

It’s the month of June, as every year at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple just Released IOS 15, the latest version of software on the Iphone & other devices. If you are a digital experience designer like me or a developer, the excitement & anticipation for something new to install is hard to describe. But before one can update to the newer version of the software, the device restarts the screen of the device turns black showing a strip of rectangle overlaid on another that moves ahead. You are correct, it is the Progress Bar.( See image 1)

Image 1
Image 2

Now let’s rewind, and travel all the way back in time to 1896 when Karol Adamiecki developed a chart named a harmonogram(see image 2), a precursor to the current progression bar. The harmonograms of Adamiecki were various work-flow network diagrams which resulted in graphical solutions to production problems. It incorporated a well known features called the Gantt charts.

The first Gantt chart-like visual representation was used to “fix the habits of the industry”. Gantt developed visualisation tools that allowed foremen and workmen to check the current productivity level of each employee and observe which employees have under- or over-performed. The idea was to monitor and reduce idle time, and increase personal accountability for levels of productivity. The productivity of each employee was recorded across time in a tabulated system, where red meant lost of bonus and black gain of it. It acted as a motivation and control mechanism, where both managers and workers could quickly visualise their achievements(Geraldi and Lechter, 2012)

There is a common thread between Karol’s harmonogram and the solution we worked on for an NGO client. The project focused on improving the company culture through personal reflection and knowledge sharing.

One of the solutions we proposed involved a digital platform where employees within the organisation are able to reflect on how they feel throughout the week while working on the projects. This is done to inform the supervisor about the overall mood of the team. This would further help the supervisor in taking decisions regarding the team effectively.

The team members can simply open this digital platform on their mobile device, and select how they feel from a set of preloaded options, each of these options will be visualised in a manner that would encourage the team member to interact with it . The average of these reflections from each team member will be visually presented to the supervisor in the form of a curve chart, to make this information quickly glanceable. The peaks of the curve would signify positive moods like Happy and Excited, while the valleys represent negative moods like sad and depressed. One the other hand the supervisor can see the average mood of the teams. If there are too many negative reflections, it will be notified to a supervisor.

Over a period of time, the data from this platform can be analysed to see how the teams & individuals perform in relation to the project they have been working on.

Therefore,just like you wait patiently and look at the progress bar for something interesting to get installed, each time an employee interacts with the application, they can keep a check on how the mood curve has progressed since they first started using the platform.

According to the experiment by Brad A. Myers in 1985, When a progress indicator is present on a screen during a task being performed, participants tend to watch it since they had no other task to do. Without a progress indicator, however, the participants apparently got bored with the screen and looked around the room or at the questions or instruction sheet. When the answers appeared on the screen, the participants would notice this in their peripheral vision, and then look up.(Myers, 1985)

This is similar to the fact in restaurants where customers can see chefs working in the kitchen. Diners rated the quality of food from those restaurants as 22% higher than the same food when they could not see it being prepared. People are more likely to enjoy restaurants that allow them to watch what’s happening in the kitchen, as it increases their anticipation for the food and watching the progress of it being prepared is somewhat entertaining. (Buell et al., 2015)

Similarly, if we apply the same analogy in our context, the idea of providing the employee with constant progress both in taking the initiative to log reflections as well as keep track of their own reflections, will overtime help retain the engagement with the platform which can ultimately help them to deeply reflect and improve their mental health and performance at work.

Once the platform is fully functional, and is made mandatory for all the employees of an organisation, a push back is expected and inevitable. Since organisations like these operate on a large scale with teams spread across the globe, concerns are bound to arise about the handling of this sensitive data created by every team member and every team within the organisation. It would be extremely important for the organisation adopting this system, to be absolutely private and discreet.

References

1.Myers, B.A. (1985). The importance of percent-done progress indicators for computer-human interfaces. ACM SIGCHI Bulletin, 16(4), pp.11–17.

2.Geraldi, J. and Lechter, T. (2012). Gantt charts revisited: A critical analysis of its roots and implications to the management of projects today. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, 5(4), pp.578–594.

3.Buell, R.W. and Norton, M.I. (2011). The Labor Illusion: How Operational Transparency Increases Perceived Value. Management Science, 57(9), pp.1564–1579.

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