Wrench In The System
“What's sabotaging your business software and
how you can release the power to innovate.”
By Harold Hambrose
Founder & CEO, Electronic Ink
Every year, businesses waste billions of dollars on information technology that doesn't communicate clearly with the people who use it. This fundamental flaw causes errors and delays, lowers profits, and can even endanger lives.
In Wrench in the System, Electronic Ink CEO Harold Hambrose shows executives and managers how to turn underperforming digital assets into powerhouse systems – how to specify small changes that can dramatically boost productivity, how to reduce training costs, and what questions to ask vendors.
Wrench in the System reveals:
- Why so many of our essential software systems are needlessly confusing
- How to make low-cost changes that provide direct, measurable benefits
- The hidden costs of forcing people to adapt to clumsy electronic tools
- The secrets of matching software to the needs of the company
- How to leverage the power of technology for innovation
With compelling case histories and an engaging narrative, Hambrose exposes popular nonsense about the unique nature of software systems and shows how to evaluate them and measure their performance just as we do every other product.
This important book tells decision-makers what they need to know to unlock the full potential of one of their biggest business investments.
Foreword by Dan Boyarski
Preface: An Invisible Edge
Chapter 1: It’s Just a Product!
Chapter 2: Design to Delight
Chapter 3: Specify Innovation
Chapter 4: Consider the Consequences
Chapter 5: The Right Team
Chapter 6: Find Out What You Really Need
Chapter 7: Believe It When You See It
Chapter 8: Refresh the System
Chapter 9: Your Next System
Appendix A: Maximizing Your Design Resources
Appendix B: Tough Questions for Consultants
Hardcover, 272 pages
More than 100 full-color illustrations
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Publisher’s price: $45.00
About the Author
Harold Hambrose is a pioneer in designing business software that seems intuitive. As the founder and CEO of Electronic Ink, the enterprise research and design consultancy he established in 1990, Harold’s mission is to show how electronic business systems and processes can raise productivity, stimulate innovation, and confer a competitive advantage by anticipating the needs of their users.
“Most business systems are needlessly confusing,” he says, “and in most cases their fundamental flaw can be traced to a missing feature—lack of clear communication with their human users.”
Harold was graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a design degree and began his career designing technological systems that put people first. His early work included industry breakthroughs: the first ATM for Citibank, the first electronic medical record’s graphic user interface and the user interface for IBM’s OS/2. He is a recipient of Carnegie Mellon University's prestigious Alumni Achievement Award.
A fine new book examines why B2B software doesn't work the way you want it to. Hambrose comes to our collective rescue with an attempt to explain the problem and suggestions for fixing it.
- Martin Veitch, cio.co.uk
Wrench in the System should be the bible for corporate executives striving to gain a competitive advantage in these trying times.
- Alan Siegel, Chairman and CEO, Siegel+Gale
Hambrose reveals what's missing from business systems and helps us understand how to demand, and get, more from these critical investments.
I wish we designers were as wise as the author considers us! But we, as much as computer users in business, can learn deep lessons from his confrontation of the challenges of information design today, and his demonstration of how our own techniques can apply to meeting them.
- Denise Scott Brown, Principal, Venturi Scott Brown and Associates
Hambrose’s design perspective is a refreshing alternative to the conventional software development wisdom and should serve as a manifesto for those trying to improve the quality and usability of business applications.
- Kurt Marko, Processor.com
Wrench in the System has one powerful message: Businesses need software ‘that sparks excitement in its target community of human users – excitement that their work is easier and more enjoyable, that they have become more effective, and that their employer is supplying tools that make them feel like part of a winning team.' "
- Mitch Betts, Computerworld.com
Harold Hambrose’s Wrench in the System [is] an entertaining argument for a much greater role for designers, psychologists, even anthropologists in creating the complex and all-too-frequently bewildering software used by businesses.
- Reid Kanaley, The Philadelphia Inquirer
... a highly readable and cogent perspective on the lack of effective design in business software. Hambrose helped lead the growth of user-centered design over the past 20 years, and much of the book is directly drawn from his professional experiences.
- Rob Tannen, designingforhumans.com
We’ve heard it before, yet so many of us refuse to listen. Good design matters. And the good news with this book is that while pointing out the problems in so much software, Hambrose offers good, solid solutions for how you can improve your software.
- Jeff Cogswell, DevSource
In this book, Harold Hambrose calls for design where 'help' is helpful and where clutter is eliminated. He describes a set of commonsense principles and asserts the essential place of design in superior products. Together with thought leaders like Edward Tufte, Harold Hambrose reminds us that great design can change the world.
- Tony Pizi, CIO, Asset Management Platform Services Deutsche Bank