Luxury Bauble

Explicit v. Implicit Workflow

Spence and I have been working on some API mashup and widget ideas for a client, and as we’ve been moving through the process, I had a sudden flash of the obvious.

In the world of multimedia and application development, the term workflow frequently is applied to apps that help you move digital files from one person to another. But just as a design app doesn’t make you a designer, using a workflow app doesn’t create a workflow for you.

Effective workflow evolves organically from repeated human interaction. People sharing the manifestations of their ideas makes workflow happen. When you can exchange those manifestations (whether they are sketches, words, snippets of conversation, or something else) with a minimum of fuss, you’ve got good workflow, even if you haven’t explicitly committed to a standardized process.

We’ve started using our iPhones to take pictures of the notes and sketches we scribble up on our writeboards during meetings. When we can’t remember something from the meeting, we can pull up a visual representation quickly. I doubt this technique is something Apple thought of when they created the iPhone, but as William Gibson once wrote, “The street finds its own uses for things.”


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