UX Australia 2012

Three’s company: A proven model for good development

Uday Gajendar

This presentation highlights our beloved ‘3-in-a-box’ model that we have introduced internally at Citrix, a 20+ year old enterprise software company, to foster cross-disciplinary partnership and thus, innovation. Our model of a ‘box’ represents a kind of pressure cooker, a forcing function that compels the core domains of Engineering, Product Management, and User Experience to bond closely from end-to-end on a project in a very tightly communicative and collaborative manner, to get positive results.

By way of an intense ten-month effort in Spring 2011, our team of Product Management (PM) and Product Design (PD) Directors, led by strong UX vision from our Principal Designer, achieved a breakthrough design for presenting Windows 7 on an iPad. The stakeholders rallied in a ‘3-in-a-box’ fashion, where everyone participated and shared in the delivery of a compelling user experience. Together, the team shipped a product in about half of the time that the Engineering team spent struggling over the original code model.

Our presentation will hit the following points:

  • The evolution of this project from initial clumsy sketches to iterative designs and shipped builds, with live demos (not just mockups) of real code on-stage. We will discuss the feature-by-feature breakdown and overall scenarios, as well as areas that didn’t quite make it in. Hey, it’s all iterative and imperfect!
  • An insider-look at persuasive methods by Design and Product Management Directors for rallying support with key executives in terms of leadership and process planning: what to say and not to say with conviction (and patience) throughout the journey. Examples include: running a skeptical Engineering team through a week-long empathy study, giving pitches to execs at quarterly planning sessions to gather inputs and agreements, showcasing visionary concepts to the VP of Engineering and summoning his direct support to drive resourcing.
  • A demonstration of ‘3-in-a-box’ model with audience members. This exercise actively projects our attitudes and beliefs by re-living how it all played out in dramatic fashion. (Kleenex not provided)
  • Advice on how to lead a ‘3-in-a-box’ session back at your company, effective white-boarding techniques, and even photographing notes with an iPhone! Yes, there’s a method to the madness that reveals how a few days of uninterrupted design time directly leads to much faster progress and better design quality.

In the end, our ‘3-in-a-box’ approach inspired a small team used to waterfall methods to push the limits of technology and innovation in a collaborative, supportive manner, where everyone shared the victory of shipping a great UX. From nearly dashed hopes to tearful joy, experience this story first-hand, with perspectives from the PM and PD Directors themselves on what it takes to design exceptional multi-touch UX (released to the market December 2011 to positive feedback from industry reviewers and early customers). And now we have incorporated ‘3-in-a-box’ as part of our planning process. It is included as part of our Design brief, project kickoff and progress tracking activities.


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Download: Three’s company: A proven model for good development (mp3 audio file)