Can software design become more human?

  • Aug 14, 2018

Have you ever started down a new path, not sure where the journey could lead? Many new paths begin with excitement and anticipation. It’s going to be great! There are many highs and lows along the way. We hear people talk about the highs, and most pretend the lows were not there. This glorious, beautiful new path we are walking is also filled with tripping hazards. 

After spending my career implementing SAP solutions, my story took a turn......

Have you ever had this sense that you might be missing something? That there is something different out there for you? It starts as a little sense, but nothing you can quite put your finger on. It's vaguely disquieting. Seventeen years into my career in technology, I had a new chapter to write. For me, this idea was more than unsettling. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. It’s quite possible I looked like this for a little while: 

Over a few months, the idea settled in and became more intriguing. And then it happened. I found a problem so compelling that I decided to do something completely unorthodox for me. When I realized the answer, it was about this subtle......

This option was never obvious to me. A significant amount of my background comes from integrating SAP. I have no interest in building something that competes with the core SAP product. I never considered finding a completely unrelated problem to solve. Until now......

For me, the realization and path didn't start filled with excitement. It was more like stark raving fear. You know, like that I’m on the very front seat of the rollercoaster with my arms in the air and nothing to hang on to feeling. Sorry if I gave you butterflies in your stomach.

I started down this new path in July 2017. For months, I shared very little about what I was working on. I spent my spare time analyzing this complex problem.  I used my knowledge of systems thinking to see it in new ways. I spent many hours over cups of coffee with friends and on the phone with others. I began embracing human centered design and finding joy in the journey. In technology, we have been discussing user-centric design for years. Human centered design has required me to follow very different software development processes. I didn't want to go off a build software then try to convince you to use it. That's not how I work. I've always worked in partnership with those using software. It's the best way for me to know that I'm solving the right problems. I’ve involved people that may one day use my software during its development in an ongoing iterative way.

Over 150 people have helped as we build Wonderly Software Solutions. Our first product is Bella Scena. I've had many partners from Minnesota working with me on this journey.  Even more people have been willing to share their experiences and offer advice as my company starts building software. Can you believe over 150 people around the world can keep a secret? I’m humbled and honored so many of them are choosing to take part.

At this point, I need to say a special mention to one company that has been with me since day 1- Aaron Keller and the team at Capsule. July 27th, 2017 we first had coffee and started this journey. The journey would have been infinitely harder without your help along the way. I will forever be grateful- thank you!

As an analytical engineer, I’ve learned more in the last year than I can fit into one post. I have so much to share about this journey, and the amazing partners that I’ve been working with along the way. I’ve also learned how to operationalize the journey of human centered design. Back to the original question- can software design become more human? Yes, and it should begin with those of us leading the software development.

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