08 March 2008

Dual spheres of influence

I wear a couple of hats when I am at work. The first hat, the one I am paid to wear, focuses primarily on how best to guide our portals towards the user’s needs. I am very comfortable playing that role. I regularly fight for the user experience above all else. But that is not my sole perspective.

When philosophers discuss things they often refer to spheres of ethics. A sphere of ethics is the range for that particular set of ethics. Most of us maintain multiple spheres. We have the set of ethics we use to live our own lives by. Likely there is a slightly different (and maybe multiple) sphere that we use to determine who we hang with, who we spend time with, and who are our closest of friends. You may have yet another sphere for your community, which you would likely vote with. It would drive what you feel is acceptable in your neighborhood and what is not. You may not feel that it is ethical to drive a Hummer day to day, but that may not mean you feel strong enough to try and keep them out of the neighborhood.

While I advocate for the user, that advocacy has a business rational. The user is critical to success. If we don’t pay attention to them, the rest of the what we do is just building a house of cards. I get the bigger picture, and frankly prefer to wear that hat… that larger sphere of user advocacy. I even find that my determination and a sometimes single-mindedness towards considering the user comes and goes. But that usually depends on who else is in the room. Often the user is well taken care of and I fall back to my better balance business hat. Other times I cannot. I think I have a stretchy user sphere.