Meet Matthew Woodward: our new Principal Human Factors Consultant
After joining us in March, Matthew Woodward is one of the latest additions to the Kinneir Dufort team. With a wealth of experience within the world of medical research he is set to steer and support Human Factors (HF) within KD. So, we decided to get to know a little more about Matthew, and why he is so passionate about HF.
“What initially interested you in Human Factors and how have you seen its practice develop?”
I was drawn to study Human Factors to apply my interest in cognitive psychology to the design of technology and environments. My Dad was an architect with a keen eye for design, my Mum has an intuitive understanding of people, so I think I’ve ended up as a combination of the two – Human Factors! Over the last 15 years or so I’ve seen the discipline take an increasing interest in the cognitive aspects of work and an improvement in the rigour of associated methods. A strand of fascinating HF research has looked at eliciting expert intuition (for example in anaesthetics) to understand the pattern matching processes at work and to improve training design.
“How do you think the most value can be added through HF, and how will you apply that approach within the team at KD?”
HF value comes from analysing human behaviour and performance upon a task that is built on evidence, and recognising that we’re designing for a range of users, not just the fully able or experienced. At Kinneir Dufort I’m keen for us to integrate task analysis methods earlier in the product development process to spark design discussion and to catch interaction issues early.
“Your most recent experience is working within a clinical environment, what lessons can be learnt when designing devices?”
Yes, I’ve studied clinicians working in environments ranging from radiography units to mental hospital drug dispensaries, to operating theatres. For us as researchers and designers it is important to understand the impact of work system factors upon safe and effective device use. Aspects such as work flow, physical environment, interfaces with other devices/information sources and team interactions can have a significant influence upon use in the field. For example, distractions are a common issue and often implicated in clinical incidents; by developing user interfaces that minimise the load on the user’s working memory we can strive for more robust solutions.
“What has surprised you about KD?”
I’ve been surprised at both the range of expertise and the number of professionals working in this one building. I’ve lived in Bristol for many years and hadn’t realised a design consultancy of this size was right under my nose! I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going.