Up in the Air: A Film for Experience Designers

* Warning: this film review contains spoilers *

Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is in the business of firing people. He travels the US first class, arrives at his destination to do what his clients are too scared to do themselves.

I couldn’t help but think of work as I watched this film. Not because people are being fired! But because the film is a great illustration of service design, and the pitfalls of an imperfect software implementation.

The opening of the film follows Ryan as he fast tracks airport check in with his first class frequent flyer VIP credentials. He receives personalised greetings and preferential treatment at every turn. Any interaction with the airport, airline, rental car service, hotel, is geared toward his status. Ryan is aware of the service he’s getting, he’s earned it,  it’s “the perfect experience”.

This is until a young go-getter, Natalie Keener, comes along and in an efficiency drive to cut costs and optimise the contract-for-fire business designs a system to take Ryan off the road.

The video conferencing set up is accompanied by a model that maps out the script for call centre operators to fire someone. The workflow includes what to do when the firee at the other end goes postal.

Can technology and a perfect workflow replace Ryan, and worse — stop his frequent flyer miles?

There are some great examples here for every experience  architect, and even a case study in why user centred design should be part of any software project.

Rating: 4 stars from me. 5 stars for EAs.

Related Links

Film review from a frequent flyer perspective. Hilarious.

Up in the Air Tweets. Great visualisation

Up in the Air Official Website

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