Is UX Human Centered really? Or Process Centered?

The provocative headline aims to bring attention to User Experience and its importance for the processes in a company. Yes, UX is human-centered but it is also process-centered from enterprise’s perspective.

Back to the period between the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century, Scientific Management or Taylorism, was developed to improve economic efficiency mainly around “labour productivity”. Taylor’s method consisted in a systematic observation of workers – not surprisingly similar to UX professionals today. For example, by observing workers, he decided that labour should include rest breaks so that the worker has time to recover from fatigue, either physical (as in shovelling or lifting) or mental (as in the ball inspection case). Workers were allowed to take more rests during work, and productivity increased as a result. The study and theory concentrated in manufacturing as muscles operated the “system”. Against the post-modern human-centered concept, Taylor said: In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first. And the human process remained central until became unnecessary. It was replaced, in manufacturing processes, by automation and the system as we know (computer) took the central stage in the offices and bureaucracy by supporting daily activities run by a new specialised labour.

At this point, User Experience has arrived to improve operational activities and the system, again, can be shift to a peripheral position within the enterprise. Although the goal is to improve productivity and maximize profits – remember that Adam Smith beat Karl Marx – UX is the “rest breaks for the shovelling and lifting” of a work force stressed and pressed by the demands of a competitive world in the Information Age.

Check out our UX strategy to get a better idea of how we make UX human centered.