Why UX matters

It's already four month ago I enroled for an Executive Education course at the MIT Sloan School of Management. I learned about these offerings through a LinkedIn post of Stefano Mallè, the Microsoft Switzerland CTO and a known one of mine. He did a course about Artificial Intelligence and its implications for Business Strategy. Sounded very interesting, but at the time I was a bit supersaturated with AI, so I decided to choose Business Process Design for Strategic Management instead.

The Onboarding - What a disaster

I registered at the 3rd of March. The process of registering and payment was without creating an account, but through e-mails only. Call me paranoid, but I don't trust those big fat PAY NOW buttons in e-mails leading to some payment provider. That was the first time I became a bit suspicious. In fact, there was no way to create an account upfront, but I had to wait for yet another e-mail of my "dedicated Success Manager" (omg - I'm totally in these fancy US job titles!). The e-mail arrived at the day the course started, so the 6th of March - three days of me not knowing what will actually happen or whether I missed something (like e.g. creating an account). When I read the e-mail I wasn't quite sure whether I should laugh out loud or just tear out my hair in a WTF-kind of way. As it turned out, my account was already created for me with my e-mail address being the username (ok, I can live with that) and a password that has already been pwned 3.391 times before.

thx for choosing a super easy and commonly used password

Even better: As the password was neither random, nor personalized to me in any way, I bet a week of cleaning the dishes that the same password is used for every new member. How hard it may be to guess another persons e-mail??? Let me think about — nay, don't even have to think about it: Way to easy... And did I mention they put the password plaintext to an e-mail...? The last time I saw something silly like that was already years ago, and for good reasons. At least they ask you to change the password after first log in - and it actually worked  ;)

So there I was, finally logged into the GetSmarter platform. What shall I say, the experience didn't become better. Phuu... this side looks outdated... like really, really outdated. Worst of all is the navigation which slides in from the left hand side EVERY single time you navigate to a new site. At least you can hide it completely and thereby get rid of this annoying animation.

Trying to update my profile wasn't a peace of cake neither. It may very well be that building name and suburb are something totally common within other countries, but living in a small village in Switzerland I'm just not sure what to put in here... If only those two fields could be optional...!???

Last but not least you have to identify yourself using an official identity document, like e.g. your passport or your driver license. With the experience I had so far, I have to admit I'm not sure whether I can really trust this...!? Long story short: I did it nevertheless and it worked OKish.

After browsing the website for a while, I thought: hey - maybe there's an app for that and maybe the app provides a better experience than the website!? And tata - there is a GetSmarter app for iOS. So download, install, open, trying to login and........ Nope. The MIT Sloan Campus website doesn't seem to be enabled for mobile access. At least that's what the error message states within the app. :/
Well... could have been so nice, but ok - I just stop and call it a day.

The first module is released

Yay, let's see what this course actually feels like. It starts with a little quiz about my current knowledge of different topics related to work design. Turns out I'm Novice at each of them :) Just fair.

Watching the first video where Nelson Repenning and Don Kieffer talk about the reasoning they developed the Dynamic Work Design methodology. I can't help but find my self constantly asking: "Why the heck do they put these non-saying stock video snippets into the interviews of Mr. Repenning and Mr. Kiefer?". They are just loosely matching the context of what is talked about at best. What they definitely don't do is providing any kind of added value. Instead, they are distracting me from what is being said. So just try to ignore them... Ohmmm

Good luck: Answered all questions in the Practice Quiz correctly. Unfortunately, it doesn't count for completion ;)

Have to stop due to Champions league game in TV. You just HAVE TO SET PRIORITIES....

15th of March

Reading a super interesting article about the Capability Trap, reinforcing loops for both, working harder and working smarter choices, the long-term damages of shortcuts and the tipfalls of "better-before-worse" & "worse-before-better" situations.

16th of March

Oha! The course exercises don't only include questionnaires, but I really have to write a text which will be reviewed and rated! Identify opportunities for process improvement with no more than 600 words and not less than 400. Challenge accepted.

17th of March

Reviewing my text I think that the first two paragraphs are good, with the third paragraph falling a bit flat. But family demands its fair share of time and I don't feel like I can rewrite it without significant effort. So I decide that it has to be good enough for now. Let's see what the feedback will be :)

29th of March

In the meanwhile I wrote another report reflecting on the work design within a specific unit -  well, actually I wrote it two times as I realized that my first answer didn't really match to the question :/
However, I now received feedback on my first submission, too, and it seems that I did a good and reasonable job - lucky me ;)

And now it's time for the third module "The problem statement" starting with "the dual process model", which describes the way(s) how human beings think about information when solving problems or making decisions. This will be followed by information about the "Confirmation Bias". Sounds interesting to me.

PS: If you want to challenge yourself, go and give the Stroop Effect a try: http://www.math.unt.edu/~tam/SelfTests/StroopEffects.html

12th of April

Feedback to my submissions have been good and constructive with some helpful feedback on how to improve my problem statement by my co-students.
In my experience so far, especially the forum posts of my co-students provide a great benefit and impact to the program. Reading and discussing about
issues and how people around the globe takled them gives you a great way to learn, improve and sometimes to see things from a complete new angle.
It strongly reminds me of the collaborative way which is so common within open source development community. So that's great.

And then, on the other hand, there is this really, really, really outdated website - pfffhhhh, what shall I say. As a software engineer and web developer
I just can't ignore how bad the User Experience is. It seems to confirm what I'm saying to my team every now and then: "If you don't get the HOW done right, the WHAT will not be heared."

Coming back to the site after some time, the following message was presented:

Fingers crossed!

So I thought: PLEASE, let them make a major upgrade with a new design.

Nope, didn't happen :( Everything still looks the same, menu still
slides in from the side every time I switch to a new page. Sometimes you lose, sometimes the others win...

Six modules later

Six weeks and six modules later I'm proude to say that I kept on going. The course provided some great articles with a lot of thought food and a very friendly, supportive and interested community of students. I feel like it's fair to say: I learned a lot.

The quality of materials was excellent and the interviews were interesting. The exercises forced me to really work on the material and put my own thoughts about topics and process into written words. It's just a different level of depth compared to the passive consumption of learning videos on platforms like e.g. Pluralsight (which is an awesome platform nevertheless!).

However, talking about platforms it's just hard to put into words how disappointent I am of MIT Sloan choosing GetSmarter as it's learning platform. The bad experiences I have had with the platform have also negatively affected my perception of the course content. Which is very sad because the material was - as stated above - excellent. But the platform unconsciously added this little bad taste to the mix... :/ Something which just sticks and spoils the overall experience.

So, the big question is: would I do the course again? YES, but NOT ON THIS PLATFORM - or at least not on the platform it presented itself at the time I took the course. There are so many other great Online Education Providers nowadays that should provide enough ideas for GetSmarter on how to improve the experience; or act as an alternative for MIT Sloan to better match the learning experience with their own reputation. Because at the end of the day there is nothing like "no user experience". It's either bad or good experience and both fall back to the one who ownes it. So you better should care!

PS: I'm proud nevertheless :)

MIT Management Sloan School Certificate - Business Process Design for Strategic Management
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