What The Bradley Timepiece can teach us about inclusive design.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 | BIPro | Scott Randall

Last week I heard a story on NPR about an innovative piece of technology and design that is both functional and inclusive – and it is wristwatch. (They call it a timepiece because you don’t have to “watch” it all the time, I’ll explain.) The interview was profiling the origins of The Bradley by Eone which is a tactile timepiece designed to not just show the time but allows users to “feel” the time as well. The time can be seen or felt as two ball bearings are driven by magnets around the clock face. It was created in collaboration with people with vision loss but has proven just as popular with the sighted population. Maybe because it is so good looking and possibly because we want to know what time it is without having to look? A stroke of genius for those stuck in long meetings?

Photo Credit: Eone Time

Photo Credit: Eone Time

Here is a link to the story on PRI’s The World and to the Kickstarter campaign that successfully funded the product launch in 2013 so you can take a closer look. The timepiece has several advantages over traditional talking versions developed for the blind but it seems from the interview that most importantly, it is innocuous, with no noisy or distracting announcement of the time and date.

Later that evening I was back to work outlining the benefits of “Key Performance Indicators” (KPI’s) for law firm management and I kept thinking about this simple and innovative timepiece. Technology of course, is often driven by necessity but it is not often that inclusive design triumphs over specialized applications. That means this product is a useful tool for everyone, not just for those it was designed for. While technology cannot always archive this lofty goal I saw parallels in the content I was developing to explain the practical application of BIPro, Advanced Legal’s Business Intelligence Software.

I am certainly not saying that attorneys have been stricken blind when attempting to view financial reports. However I will assert that non-financial professionals swimming through pages of reports is not the most effective use of their time and often does not result in the type of actionable information that can make an immediate impact on firm profitability. BIPro (you can read all of the sales stuff here) was developed as a dashboard with color-coded charts to provide for analysis of those KPI’s (like WIP, billing, A/R and cash receipts) by non-financial professionals throughout the firm. While we have heard positive feedback from managing partners who can more easily follow their book of business, it was the use of the software as a mentoring tool that makes BIPro really a useful tool for everyone in the firm.

Like the innocuous Bradley Timepiece, BIPro has proven to be an accessible tool that provides transparency to associates relative to their own goals at the same time that it helps the firm’s lawyers clearly understand how their behaviors lead to their success, and it occurs on their desktop every day, with no extra noise.

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