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Working for the Weekends

by Nate Williams

I am so sick of “meeting requirements.”  Twenty bucks to the person who can think of a more boring, bare minimum way to summarize delivering on the things that users want.

But every day, users of systems look to have their requirements met. This morning, I took the L to work and successfully arrived at the office. My requirements were met, but the turnstile decided to not recognize my transit pass on the first swipe (causing a painful gut-check that halted my progress), the train car reeked of cigarettes, and we were packed in like sardines in a can causing everyone to sweat the entire time on a humid, warm and rainy spring day in Chicago.

But hey, I got to work. Acceptance Criteria met – right?

When we think of the human experience, we think of cross-sectional commonalities – happiness, sadness, pain, joy – that are universally shared, independent of culture, society, nation-state, profession or wealth. Diving further into this idea, when we think about the unique individual experiences that aggregate up to each of our lives, we think of great moments such as our wedding, the birth of a child, or an unforgettable trip. However, these milestone events make up a disproportionately small percentage of our varied lives. Furthermore, although they serve as a beacon of happiness to our individual experience, they lack a sense of permanence desired.

On the contrary, work – for so many – is the means that allows for the enjoyment of the weekend. The experience of work has a sense of permanence, but often without the sentiments of happiness.  Work is this thing that can take up to a third of our lives, half of our waking moments, and, at times, consumes nearly all our capacity to handle stress. But as my experience on the L demonstrates, many on either side of the equation take little accountability for negative experiences.

Why is it that users of work systems accept mediocre or even bad experiences, especially when it ultimately drains their productivity? Moreover, how can we begin to address this gap in our professional lives and begin to alleviate negative experiences, ultimately making the human experience better and, with it, elevating levels of productivity?

This year, I’ve started to make progress redressing this gap for our clients by leveraging Design Thinking in conjunction with Kenway’s Salesforce partnership. Design Thinking is a framework that utilizes creative and collaborative mechanisms to solve human-centered problems. It’s fundamentally about using empathy as a tool and engaging people on their feelings, noting these as facts in the game of user experience. Salesforce is a business operations platform that aims to delight customers (users). It does this by presenting a model that is both standardized and custom, allowing users to create their own processes all while satiating the demand for enterprise-level standardization to drive efficiency.

It’s my belief that the Design Thinking framework (“how” to solve human-centered problems) and Salesforce (“what” platform can help do so) naturally work together as both hinge on the user experience. Extending my own experience into something broader may add some clarity to the opportunity presented by Salesforce market growth:

  • My personal work satisfaction impacts my personal life and happiness
  • The effectiveness of the productivity and business operations tools I use impacts my work satisfaction on a day-to-day basis
  • In an average year, roughly 25% of my time is spent on all things work related
  • Salesforce was at $2.4Bn in revenue in 2012, $8.4Bn in revenue and 3.750M users in 2017, and is forecasted for >$20Bn in revenue by 2022 with a Total Available Market (TAM) at $120Bn

If we allow for a marginal increase in price over the next five years, the TAM forecast above places 50M potential users, and roughly 8.4M Salesforce users. To put this in perspective, the United States has a population of 126M full-time workers, which means Salesforce could be a part of 7% of the US workforce’s day-to-day activities.

Think of all the industries. Think of all the people and job functions. Assuming your experience is similar to mine (which it may not be), think of all the potential lives that can be impacted on a daily basis by leveraging a software platform that goes beyond “meeting requirements” and aims to delight customers.

I know I’m a romantic, even an evangelist on this issue, but that’s why I choose to focus on Kenway’s Salesforce partnership. I’m not bold enough to say it will change the “working for the weekends” paradigm, but I think there’s a fantastic opportunity to enjoy life a bit more, prior to the beginning of the weekend. Over the next five years, if Salesforce can successfully improve the 9 to 5 lives of 5M workers to some degree, then I believe there will be some tangential benefits to personal happiness for a material number of individuals.

It’s worth a shot, right?

If you are interested in learning more about how Kenway Consulting aims to not only go above and beyond meeting requirements, but to delight customers, please contact us at info@kenwayconsulting.com.

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