David J. Cox  Explanation by Pattern  USER COMMENTS



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USER COMMENTS

The following sampling of written comments are brief excerpts from correspondence or reports by managers in the Information Systems organization at Procter & Gamble home offices, Cincinnati. Many were written by planners who managed and supported computer systems operations throughout the world. Normal operation involved writing and maintaining conventional instruction manuals for these client organizations. This day-to-day production of conventional text instructions was a good base of comparison for the new method FLIPP.  The comments at #38 are from a tax preparation company. None of the comments are by people who worked for me.  I have received many more verbal comments from users.  Remarkably, all have been favorable.

Written Comments From FLIPP Planners (Excerpts)

Brackets [ ] enclose words added for clarity.
Ellipses . . . replace unrelated or proprietary references.

1. "FLIPP . . . is an extremely effective and efficient method for describing complex, interrelated pieces of information. My experience . . . involved the preparation of user instructions for [a] large analytical information system. The wide range of capabilities and options in the system make creation of user instructions a difficult task. In one instance every ten pages of instructions were replaced by a single page of instructions using FLIPP . . . . This collapsing effect made a tremendous improvement in the user interface system."

2. ". . . Cut down by about 30% the number of calls we were getting . . . with requests for help."

6. "Having created a chart to be used by inexperienced . . . users, I'm sold on how quickly the charts can be thrown together and how they force you to thoroughly understand the procedure being charted."

19. "I am recommending that this type of instruction be used for new interactive applications."

21. "The FLIPP chart technique promises to be of great value in locating [bugs which cause a malfunction only in unusual cases]."

22. " . . . we were able to concisely (one page) summarize these complex procedural paths which were described in many pages throughout the manual. The simplicity and clarity of the charts can give the clients confidence and help avoid frustration."

26. ". . . FLIPP filled our needs very well . . . on topics such as raw materials sampling and evaluation, minor ingredients sampling and testing, analytical methods, evaluation of finished products, and troubleshooting . . . .The consensus of our group was that FLIPP can be a useful and exciting way to learn. I have listed some of the benefits that we see . . .

. . . forces a logical thought process.
. . . identifies gaps in knowledge.
. . . useful tool for efficiently communicating a large amount of complex information.
. . . Group participation in developing a FLIPP chart creates a real esprit de corps and feeling of ownership and pride in the end result.
. . . Developing a FLIPP chart is an exciting training experience."


27. " . . . considered to be by far the most effective presentation of Basic Functions that [we teachers of Basic Functions] had seen."

28. "Two charts were prepared on the health information system . . . . These were completed the same day our group was introduced to FLIPP. I was pleasantly surprised at how building these charts helped us to identify and boil down complex procedural paths. These multiple paths are extremely difficult to clearly describe in conventional form. The client normally requires considerable time to learn error handling by experience, especially seldom-used procedures. FLIPP charts can help the client become self-sufficient by simplifying his use of these procedures. FLIPP charts can give clients confidence. They can also help the system administrator work with clients over the phone on specific situations, and in training. . . . We plan to include the two error handling charts in the health information system manual."

30. ". . . the chart is much better than an 'instruction manual'. . . My feeling covers 3 main points:

1. . . . it is a most helpful tool to use in developing an operating procedure. . .
2. . . . as a training aid I feel that the chart method has many advantages other methods do not have.
3. . . . as a reference manual covering established procedures the chart method is most effective."


31. ". . . 'FLIPP' requires no programming knowledge and it employs no special symbols."


32. ". . . it has merit in the simplicity of structure, the obviousness of alternatives, and the exclusion of the inapplicable situations. It's main selling points to me seemed to be:

1. Organization of material into visual groups for greater understanding of the interrelationships, possible alternatives, and relative importance of the various decisions and/or information.
2. The exclusion of unnecessary and irrelevant details for an inapplicable solution.
3. The obvious chain of decisions . . .
4. As a learning technique showing immediate organization of new material."

"I found the greatest advantage of using FLIPP charts was that it facilitates the documenting of recovery procedures which would be very complicated and long if written in prose."

34. "As one whose native language is not the language that I have to employ in my daily contacts with people, I find it often extremely hard to make myself clear in what I want to say. FLIPP charts are just the thing for me."

35. "Comments on Preparing a FLIPP chart to describe the logic pattern of a computer program:

1. Logic clarified to a degree beyond belief!
2. . . . very easy to find one's way through entire logic
relationships of program.
3. . . . easy to debug program logic."

37. ". . . FLIPP Charting has helped us to 'ask the right questions' of our clients, so that we can analyze their procedures. In working interactively with the client using FLIPP Charts, we can help the client sharpen his understanding of the systems he works with daily, sometimes spotting inconsistencies. The actual process of analysis can then produce not only a change in the system for the better, but a clearer understanding of all systems from everyone's viewpoint.

Using FLIPP Charts as a "map" has cleared the mud from some very complex systems."


38. "At your suggestion, I worked with Dave Cox and some of our people to try out an unusual way of charting complex information. You suggested that how to determine eligibility for averaging and lump sum handling of retirement distributions would be a real test of the method and its usefulness to us."

". . . Six instructors used the chart with about 70 students in basic classes beginning in September of 1989."

". . . The chart was universally appreciated. It is very concise and practical."

". . . Preparers used the form with little or no instruction. I did not receive a single question about what was in the chart or it's use. [This was most unusual.]"

". . . The chart boosted the confidence of the instructors. It covers the intended ground completely and visually."

". . . The high receptivity by users made me feel that the test was a realistic test for our work."

 

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