Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2012

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 18 of 135

best practices Transforming Trainers into User Experience Advocates by Michael Barshinger and Claudia O'Neill of Profiscience Partners Sometimes it seems as though trainers and training departments are the Rodney Dangerfields of the corporate world — they just don't get any respect. They don't generate revenue; they take people away from their desks; and they often seem to be agents of an uncaring and disinterested management, telling people how to do their jobs by forcing exactly the same information on everyone in exactly the same way. The fact is, though, every year firms spend thousands of dollars on new technology that ends up being underutilized or not used at all because users don't want to use it or don't know how. If you were to ask them why, users might tell you it's because no one has bothered to find out what they need and how they work. No one has adequately explained how and why the new technology will make their jobs easier. And no one has taken into account the fact that everyone has different skill levels, learns in different ways and has different time constraints. One way to address this is to transform trainers into user experience (UX) advocates. What Is a User Experience Advocate? User experience advocates have been a staple of software businesses from the beginning, acting as liaisons between designers and end users. Their role has been to proactively solicit and compile feedback from end users, advocating on the end users' behalf during the prioritization of feature development. Change the Model Nobody wants to be trained, but everyone wants to be heard. The problems start with the word "train." The dictionary defines it as "to form by instruction, discipline or drill; to teach so as to make fit, qualified or proficient." Most professionals consider themselves knowledgeable and skilled. To them, the idea of being "trained" can be perceived as unnecessary, wasteful or even demeaning. The title "Trainer" itself is limiting. If trainers think of themselves only as trainers, they may not recognize that they can also be advocates; users won't necessarily see them as helpful; and management might not see them as critical allies in maximizing ROI on technology. If trainers become UX advocates — looking out for the end users, while at the same time improving the firm's ROI by creating more satisfied and productive users — people being trained will be more likely to adopt new technologies because they would feel their needs were being met and that they had a voice in the process. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Jim Whitehurst, the President and Chief Executive of Red Hat (the provider of Linux and other open-source technology) talked about the change in business organizations that's driven by the coming-of-age of the Millennial generation and the internal use of social media to allow people on the "front lines" to have a say in the technology they use every day: 20 Peer to Peer

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