In a recent session with an enterprise software client, the EVP of Product was explaining how the development team was struggling with a workflow for one of their new applications. We looked at the interface wireframes for a solution.

His cursor circled a section of the UI… “Users need to be able to modify these modules, but it’s difficult to tell which one they are selecting to modify.”


The engineers were approaching the problem from the only perspective they know, engineering. They didn’t know to think about how to use the UI from a user perspective because they suffer from the Curse of Knowledge. We can’t fault them. They’re doing their job. Engineering.

An engineer’s mind approaches problems with the full might of their training. The trouble is in the blind spots. Because of their training, engineers are blind to certain things. They know how systems work and can’t understand how some people struggle to use them.

Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.Einstein


In order to find a solution that works for the user, you have to think like the user. You need empathy to understand the problem from their perspective. To think about other ways it can be solved, unencumbered by the rigidity of an engineer’s training.

“What if you did it like this?” I asked the EVP. An Archimedes moment had happened, and he was immediatly thinking about all the possibilities this new perspective brought to the application.

You’ve just solved a problem we’ve been struggling with for two months in less than an hour. Thank you.

No thanks needed, EVP. That’s what we do here.