We support decision making in complex environments
We study environments that are characterized by high stakes, high time-pressure and/or high complexity. Frequently these are environments where mistakes can result in the loss of human life or in outsize financial costs.
We conduct field research using a method of inquiry known as Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA). The data we collect with this method is used to develop user models that drive client solutions. Learn more through the CTA Institute.
Our solutions are decision centered. We focus on the challenging decisions humans face in the conduct of work and translate those into decision requirements that guide the design of technology, training, and processes.
What Drives Us
Technology should support humans, not the other way around. Ubiquitous computing has opened the door for innovation in many domains. Health information technology integrates your health data regardless of where care took place. Emergency responder and rescue personnel provide care using wearable computing devices. However, too often innovation chases the potential of technology, inadvertently introducing new tasks and reducing transparency for the human. We focus on leveraging technological innovation to support human cognition.
Embrace the end user perspective. It is essential to develop effective technology. This simple statement is consistent with cognitive engineering guidance, sociotechnical systems theory, and participatory design maxims. In fact, most would agree in principle. The difficulty is in understanding the challenges the human must contend with and the human expertise that must be supported if the system is to operate effectively. We begin every project by putting the human at the center of the investigation.
Humans have an incredible facility for rapid adaptation and the development of expertise. Many researchers and product designers frame their work in terms of reducing human error and bias. We, in contrast, are fascinated by the study of expertise and tools to support skill acquisition and expert performance. Rather than attempting to design products that overcome human limitations, we focus on exploiting human strengths.
The best solutions start with studying problems in context. We use carefully planned observations and interviews, as well as opportunistic learning — sometimes it is possible to learn something very valuable about the work context while waiting in the hallway for an interview to begin. Insights are everywhere. Everything is data. We have developed research methods to answer focused research questions without stripping away critical context.