Task Analysis

So today we discussed task analysis and while some people like to think about it as “how would you instruct a robot or someone doing something new”, I tend to think of it in terms of how would I explain it to my 3 year old (as of Sept 16th) daughter. She is a very capable machine for all intent and purposes, but lacks the instructions/knowledge/understanding we take for granted. Eventually, she will be able to do tasks without even thinking, such as make spaghetti or change a tire (yes I am going to teach her this because it is a life skill everyone should know). For now though, I actually have to do task analysis on the fly for her and provide detailed instructions…when I say clean up your toys, I have to specify I mean every toy. Sometimes I have to specify color, shapes, locations, etc., because she picks up some of them, but leaves others. Eventually she will learn though and be able to just receive the instructions “pick up your toys”, but for now I must do task analysis to make sure she understands every stop of the process. From picking it up to putting it in the proper bin, I break it down for her every evening.

So, all that was to say if you are having trouble understanding what task analysis is and how to do it, think about how you would explain something to a three year old. It’ll change your perspective and become pretty easy to do.

From a human factors or design engineering perspective, this is probably not a bad approach either…people find incredibly, let’s say unique, ways to use a product not as intended…treating users as a three year old during the design process might eliminate some of the surprises.



Posted on September 18, 2019 at 6:12 pm

1 Comment

Comments (1)

  1. Wenyi Wu Reply

    September 26, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Hi Farakh, thank you for the amazing blog! I really liked the thought of thinking about teaching 3-year-old child when doing task analysis. I never realized there are something similar between teaching child and teaching/ building a human-machine, but since you mentioned it, it looks so reasonable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.