Design, Event, sketchbook

At DesignUp19

I just came back from DesignUp 2019 which isn’t just a design conference, it’s made by designers for designers. This year it was bigger and better than ever. In the conference lineup there was a mix of data+design, the pluralities that exist in India with design for the social sector, design leadership and a number of varied workshops. Here are the sketchnotes of the talks I attended:

Jon Kolko: Creativity

Jon talked about four ways in which design leaders can help to enhance creativity of their teams – to acknowledge feelings, tame ambiguity, drive a vision and let teams run wild. For example, designers feel vulnerable when putting up their work for a critique, so respect and acknowledge that. In a critique, he said, there should be no hierarchy. The highest paid person in the room is equal to everyone else, it should be a democratic process so foster trust. Another aspect of a design leadership is to set a vision – frame the problem and humanize it.

“Show the team why there’s a reason to believe. Bring the design criteria to life.”

Dave Malouf: Design Ops – The power to amplify design value

Dave’s talk finally gave me a name to some of the activities I’ve been engaged in over 2019 – hiring and setting up the design team and the comms for Microsoft Edge Design in India. For a long time, until I heard from Dave, I didn’t really think I was doing real “design” – but I realized after this talk, that I was setting the foundation for the team now to start performing at their best.

Design Ops basically creates time for design teams by streamlining effort and communication, to focus and put their best energy on the most creative aspects of the work. For scaling a design team and ensuring a quality practice that creates quality experiences, design ops is a must. Dave’s talk focused on principles and values to guide with.

“So that we mutually understand and value what is quality design output, AND quality practice is. Design Ops carries the burden.”

  • Socialise design quality
  • Quantify it
  • Critical design language
  • Monitor to learn and adjust

The design process (and proud to say we use the shiny double diamond in our team) that helps to explore multiple approaches:

Dave also explained how should design teams use quantitative and qualitative data:

  • Methods for collecting the right data as part of the design process
  • Instrumentation to be built in to capture the right data
  • Dashboards to turn data into insights

BTW, Dave founded the ixda – and that’s where I learnt how to be an interaction designer way back in 2004…

Andy Budd: An accidental design leader

I had been reading Andy’s blog since 2004, and he was one of the early designers, and his talk was about the roles and responsibilities of design leaders.

An absolutely fantastic talk that made we wish I had a design mentor back when I was struggling to understand how to lead design teams. Now after 5 years or so, I may have learnt all these, only with a few battle scars and heart burn.

Andy talked about 5 things: Hiring the right designers for your team, retaining them and helping them stay creative, giving them the space to thrive and managing up and down.

The ideal talent pyramid

“Give your team the air cover to support learning and growth.”

Accountability Ladder for designers

For more guidelines visit his site Clearleft.

Panel: Roti, Kapda or Mobile

This panel, moderated by Ripul Kumar was about how Indians are changing as a result of their high mobile usage.

People will find a digital consumption equilibrium.”

Navneet Nair of Phonepe

“People expect pleasure out of productivity.”

Payal Arora, author of The Next Billion Users

Payal Arora: Design for the next billion users

Payal spoke about the 5 needs of the next billion users: Fun, Flexibility, Family, Fusion and Friction, and the need to understand the nuances of contexts.

“We need friction to protect people from themselves – to provide a pause before action.”

Design for Social Good: Devika KrishnanAkshay Roongta

We are “maker-centric not market-centric” no matter what the project brief or design process is!

Devangana Khokhar: Data for Social Good

Arindam Mukherjee: Insights for Product Development

Another awesome talk which I couldn’t draw – because my pen had run out of ink – was “Design Leadership without losing your hair” by Param Venkataraman.

“The higher you go, the deeper you need to look.”

What was nice was that lots of speakers recommended books like Orbiting the giant hairball, Design the life you love, etc. There were so many more talks that were happening in parallel that I missed, including Alyssa Naples’s talk. It was really difficult to be at each of them. Plus there were all the wonderful conversations that happened at the edges of the conference.

The Microsoft Edge designers getting their books signed by Jon Kolko

All in all, a great conference – lots of validation, new learning, new ideas and new people to connect with! Looking forward to the next!

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sketchbook, travels

Listening while flying

During a recent flight I was listening to a couple of my regular podcasts The Knowledge Project and The Tim Ferris Show. These podcasts represent two different aspects of work/life for me: The Knowledge Project is a podcast that usually provides a new perspective to knowledge and learning concepts, and helps me understand different/difficult ideas. The Tim Ferris show is a great mix of tactical and inspirational, and usually themes I go through in my day to day work/life.

This drawing is Shane Parrish talking to Jason Fried of 37 Signals. I’ve used 37signals’ (now called Basecamp) flagship productBasecamp at work and been an avid reader of their blog since my early days as a designer, and usually find them to have a unique perspective on things.

“Always figure out what’s the right thing, even if you don’t do it.”

Personally this attitude to company building and creating sustainable team culture was really eye-opening for me.

And then I listened to Tim Ferris talking to Debbie Millman: Busy is a decision. What really stood out for me was the focus on prioritization, always my weakness.

“Make the time to do the things you want to do, and then follow through and do them.”

This is her advice to young designers starting out:

Am I constantly refining and improving my skills? What can I continue to get better at? Do I believe that I am working hard enough? If not what should I be doing in order to succeed? She says you should have a point of view and share it respectfully.

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Event, sketchbook

Bonus: Sketchnotes, here and there

So, having artists sketch at conferences have become a cool thing these days. I was asked to do some for a company’s employee meeting last year.

06-open-to-explore

I really like this page: Swarn Sehgal was talking about the effort we need to put in to meet our aspirations. One of the key takeaways was to be proactive, especially for companies, instead of waiting for a crisis to bring about the change.

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And this was Ian Herman talking about how they made the brand come together.

Oh and I forgot to mention, but last year my “sketchnotes” were featured on Kyoorius’s website. Here’s the link: http://kyoorius.com/2013/08/sketchnotes-soo-basu/

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