User Interface and the art of seduction

I was very much thinking of participating in start-up challenge that involved an open ended question to organize financial data deluge into organisable chunks by a local start-up accelerator for a large wealth management bank. But the question being open ended and no further info forth coming, I thought I’ll leave the fray, lest there’s another identified start-up whose work this bank wants to capitalize…I’m not sure. But this participation interest lead me to read a few resources on UI design, they’re great and gives you a good head start if you need to design a seductive, meaningful and delightful interface and deliver it on time:

  1. Lean UX – Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience – Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden
  2. Seductive Interaction Design – Stephen P Anderson
  3. Refining Design for Business – Using Analytics, Marketing, and Technology to Inform Customer Centric Design – Michael Krypel
  4. Interface Design for Learning – Design Strategies for Learning Experiences  – Dorian Peters

Each book delves into unique areas and are practical resources to conceive, design and deliver a great UI. Certainly all would agree that “A man is only half of him and rest is his attire” and so does a UI to a software service.


Augustus Caesar–The First Emperor of Rome

I had the opportunity earlier to read the biopic on Julius Caesar by same author and this is a great follow on. Of course Cicero’s biography (which I also read) lends interest to know more about Augustus – as to what happened aftermath to Caesar elder’s assassination. And this book throws a good light on the story of what happened leading to Augustus takeover. The triumvir – Lepidus, Antony and Augustus ruled Rome in the immediate aftermath of brutal murder of Julius Caesar. How Augustus out manoeuvred and luck helped Augustus is the story and how in later years he judiciously administered his kingdom till his seventies – recaptured by Adrian Goldsworthy is a fantastic historic page-turner. Some thing to remember – jotted for posterity from the book…

  • Proscriptions, mass murder, rule by force and coercion were the rules for civil war era of Rome after Julius Caesar’s attempt to be a dictator – slowly the Rome was descending from democracy to dictatorship – as it wasn’t working well as before.
  • Augustus married Scribonia – Antony’s daughter to maintain the triumvir intact but he divorced her to take another senator’s wife Livia. His only daughter Julia was born to Scribonia.
  • Jesus was born during his reign of Rome and surrounding provinces which include Judea
  • Agrippa was the second hand man and loyal to Augustus – a great coliseum still stands under his name in Rome – An able administrator and warrior, built numerous structures in the 30 – 20 BC during Augustus reign. He married Augustus daughter Julia and had 2 sons who died in battle campaigns
  • Augustus depended on Livia’s son (from an earlier marriage) Tiberius as his heir but only to abandon all duties and to go on exile due to unresolvable differences and was out of the kingdom for a decade, meanwhile Augustus was eagerly waiting for the two grandsons – Caius and Lucius (sons of Agrippa) to come of age and take over the kingdom in future. They too perished.
  • Augustus again recalled Tiberius to announce him as his heir and he died in his 70s when Tiberius assumed power smoothly
  • Virgil created Aeneid – masterpiece in Latin – to be preserved for centuries – similar to Homer’s Iliad
  • Mausoleum of Augustus, The Temple of Divine Julius, The Curia Julia (senate house – converted to church), The Forum Romanum, The Rostra (speaker’s forum), The Arca Pacis (Altar of Peace), The Pantheon of Agrippa – were the testimonials whose remains and in some cases in full – remind us of the roman glory of Augustus

It’s one of cruelty, deception, intrigue and force to get hold of power and the other to maintain the supremacy with benevolence and greater good to citizens. I believe Augustus achieved both in his time to be named the first emperor but good for emulation for successors in olden days, I think we need a person like Augustus to bring order from chaos and rule the state and bring same benefits under the democratic system is a must. We have seen so many examples to emulate but time has to dawn for that to happen in various places to make citizens happy, safe, solid and progressive!

Age must bring composure, calmness, mental fortitude and benevolence and that too a king having this and becoming an emperor is a feat and Augustus tread this path to attain greatness given his long illustrious life to create the Roman dynasty only to be reinstated of similar glory by Marcus Aurelius – that’s my observation. Well in modern days, dynasty happens albeit with democracy where people elect heirs but American Presidential system is preferred to stop one person to hold power for very long, this long tenure is not good unless we get ruler’s like Augustus or Marcus – a rare in rarity.

The Alliance–Managing (Entrepreneurial) Talent in the Networked Age

Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, co-authors this definitive recruit-bender guide which tries to address the distrust between employee and employer with ‘Alliance’ as a new paradigm to create trust and enduring relationship that’s mutually beneficial. Treating employees as allies and assigning them ‘Tour of Duty’ is the change of attitude an employer to make to make this happen. Some ideas captured here to help to run your company / your branded “you” well in the networked age:

  1. ‘Tour of Duty’ comes from military where a soldier in his/her tenure goes through multiple ones typically diverse and different from every previous ones. This allows employer to incorporate some of the advantages of life time employment and free agency. It reduces pressure on both sides and builds trust incrementally. Each employer has to recast careers as successive tours of duty to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent. The gist is – Employee may quit at any time and that’s what they are empowered to do and the question is how long can you thwart that with mutual the trust to compete a tour of duty with mutual benefits
  2. Different Types of Tours – Rotational (assess the fit between employee and employer), Transformational (mission completion specific) , Foundational (top executives see to the end)
  3. Building Alignment in a tour of duty:
    1. Establish and disseminate the company’s core missions and values
    2. Learn each individual employee’s core aspirations and values
    3. ‘’Work together to align employee, manager and company
  4. Having The Conversation – Advice for Managers
    1. Define values in group – create a rough draft, present and seek feedback, there needs to be realistic understanding of the true company culture by a manager
    2. Define personal values one-on-one
    3. Build trust by opening up – Learning what an employee cares about helps build a relationship of trust. Asking participants to share their deepest feelings and beliefs for a single hour could generate the same sense of trust and intimacy that typically takes weeks, months and years to form. Direct questions like “Who’s the best co-worker you ever worked with?”, “What’s your proudest career moment?” help break down emotional distance. Its equally important to open up your own core aspirations and values to make this mutually equal.
  5. Managing the unexpected during the tour of duty
    1. What happens when one party breaks the alliance? – Employee can betray and just say it’s business and he‘ll lose future benefits and favourable references. For employers also there are similar and equal consequences
    2. What if one party is performing poorly? – Avoid short term knee jerk responses either side and look for long tern investments, but if it persists, either should release amicably and reasonably
    3. What if the employee wants to move into a new role within the company? – don’t block as long mission is completed or can be sustained by others and this lateral move is beneficial for both
  6. Network intelligence generates hidden data, serendipity and opportunity and how to implement a network intelligent program? – Tactics and Techniques investing in employee networks:
    1. Recruit Connected People: make a candidate’s network strength an explicit priority when hiring. It’s critical to define it – not on the number of followers/connections held but how far they could leverage that connections to solve a problem. In teh interview process, ask candidates about their strongest professional allies. Find out how they solve problems – do they call experts in their network. Reid during manager interview asks – who will the prospect hire after him? Reid will reach to them as a reference check as well.
    2. Teach Employees how to mine intelligence from their networks via conversation and social media: Knowledge isn’t valuable unless shared. Here are some questions to find answers and share those appropriate in the intranet with all employees/managers (Of course employees should use their discretion and always maintain their integrity) :–
      1. How is the key technology trend is shaping our industry?
      2. What are other companies (and competitors) doing that’s working or not working?
      3. What are our customers’ sentiments, what is motivating them, and how they have changed?
      4. who are the key people in the industry that we should engage with?
      5. what are the hiring trends in our industry?
      6. who are the new entrants in the marketplace and which of them are dong interesting things?
    3. Roll out programs and policies that help employees build their individual networks
      1. encourage Employees to be active on social media and to make themselves discoverable
      2. Setup a “networking fund” for employees: Networking lunch to get employees to talk smart people and summarize what they learnt in this conversation to all
      3. Facilitate speaking gigs for your employees
      4. Host events at your company office – meet-ups for like minded technical folks to share things and findings on industry trends
      5. Have employees share what they learn with the company: brown bag sessions, sharing research findings on new things connected to work