An interview with Peter Buckle, Robens Institute, AKTIVE Consortium
During the ALIP Showcase 2013, Peter Buckle from Robens Institute gave a presentation about some of the work he has done as part of the AKTIVE project. Last year Peter led workshops during which AKTIVE consortium members with expertise contributed to build a stakeholders’ map focused on the user of telecare.
The AKTIVE team asked Peter a few questions about this exercise:
Q1: What is the purpose of your mapping exercise?
Most of us tend to see the world though our own window. By that I mean that we tend to be biased in how we see what goes on around us and focus on those things that have greatest impact on our immediate state. Unfortunately, that may leave us with a poor understanding of the ‘bigger picture’. This often manifests itself in investing too much resource in one area at the price of another, or failing to communicate effectively. By identifying all the stakeholders involved in the life of the telecare user you can more easily see the flow of information from one stakeholder to another and the impact this can have on the network overall.
Q2: What do you plan to do next with this map?
The next step, or rather steps, is to identify pathways that we can evaluate more closely to understand where they are or are not working well. For example, can the information streaming through the communication hubs (e.g. the telecare response centre) be better used to improve the system? And can we identify where failures are occurring? We have a special risk assessment toolkit, originally designed by us for use in healthcare, that we will be adapting to evaluate risk in those parts of the system deemed to be a priority. Incidentally this toolkit is freely available on the internet now.
Q3: Where can it be used?
We want to use this approach to help derive better design requirements and then challenge the technology experts to meet these needs for tomorrow’s ageing population.
Q4: What other work do you do as part of AKTIVE?
We are involved in many areas of the project as our whole approach is based on a human factors / ergonomics approach. This discipline is based on understanding the needs and capacities of people in systems, and then designing systems to fit these characteristics.
Q5: During your presentation you have highlighted the importance of designers understanding ‘Who isn’t it designed for?’ Can you comment on that?
I have two questions that I ask all designers when they show me their designs or products. The first is ‘who isn’t this designed for?’ and the second is ‘what happens when this fails?’
When you think about it, most artefacts are not designed for everybody, so I expect good designers to have thought about and defined their intended end user group.
The second question comes about from 30 years of research looking at why systems fail. If a designer wants to make a change to one part of a system he/she better be pretty certain that a) it won’t adversely affect other parts of the system and b) that if it fails there is resilience or back-up available.
I usually get poor answers to both questions and as a result am not always a designer’s best friend!
If you want to know more I suggest reading some free downloads:
Design for Patient Safety
Risk assessment in healthcare
And visiting the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors or the Robens Institute