Matthijs Mali

ux architect, activator, pragmatic.

I love well designed products

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EuroIA 2017 - Thursday

in: UX - 05 October 2017

These writings were done during Euroia 2017 in Stockholm.

Look back at what you have accomplished already. Everyday new anticipated and surprising challenges appear. Tasks that seem simple might grow into something goliath-like and look like something you cannot overcome. Today I learned that if you know your tools and dare to step towards that goliath, you can push a design-ignorant team to the point where they become design-driven. From there you no longer have to push. They start pulling you towards their design-driven mindset.

Feels like a dream? That’s a bit how I felt. The first day of the conference was hugely inspiring. This post features a short writeup of the most interesting talks.


Design Leadership, create a shared vision
Inspired by the talk given by Alissa Briggs

At the end of the day, Alissa Briggs perfectly captured the ingredients needed to shape a good design team (or any team, really). She describes three steps, create a vision, know your team and build it up. In that order.

To get to the vision, start inside your company. Sit down with your bosses, ask them questions to figure out how they see the design process. Do they see it as an essential step? Gather their expectations. Also attend meetings, who are the people coming up with ideas? Who usually sits quietly in a corner? Which groups go and have lunch together? By doing this, you map out the organization and become aware of the playing field, the players and the tactics they currently follow.

But be sure to go outside as well. Go on a safari to your customer, with your team. See what they do and how they work. Be naturally curious. Location visits will surprise you with a wealth of valuable information. With all this information set up a brainstorm session. And figure out what the plusses (things you want to keep) and delta’s (things you want to throw out) are.

Then set up a some meetings with your team and let them imagine the future. To steer away from ideas like “A great app” you let people write down what they see, hear and feel in that future situation. You probably found so much by know. Collect it all in a Powerpoint and make it presentable. This document will be something to fall back to for the coming years. The team collaborated towards this.

When this vision is complete, it is time to create the team. Identify the gaps in the current team, hire people and become a team. Work towards a skill map, that shows where gaps on skill level. Which leads to an identification of what is needed on the team. This list can be shown to your boss. Giving clear argumentation on why new hires are needed.

And finally you build the team. Create and identify rituals and make sure there are informal moments of gathering. So finally for this, the team has been planned down and built upwards.


Know your tools
Inspired by the talk given by Jason Mesut & Peter Boersma

Whether working in a design team, or as a single UX professional in an organization, knowing what methods you have in your portfolio is important. Especially when laying out a plan. Jason Mesut talked about developing his toolset. Using Excel he mapped out methods and wrote down how well these methods meet certain requirements. He also referred to an image on Strategyzer, that mapped out the methods on two axis. From short time to setup to longer and from strong evidence (like A/B tests) or weak evidence (explorative interviews).


Mastering the Discovery Phase
Inspired by the workshop given by Dan Brown.

A great workshop introduced the entire crowd to the concept of Discovery phase. It covered the process you should go through to get to stakeholder supported project plan completed. The part of the UX process where you do most of the research and try to find out what would be the right direction for the project.

One of the first things Dan mentioned was creating a rough and living document where you can write down all findings. It’s a bit like a new notebook for a project, one that slowly shapes into the final recommendation or closure of the discovery phase. Next to that, creating a simple and insightful planning that includes all stakeholder sessions as well. This should work wonders for alignment. From there on, the discovery phase should run smooth and there should be no surprises for your stakeholders.

Takeaways for today

  • Know yourself and your plan (either as yourself or for your team)
  • Systematically involve stakeholders in your research process
  • Work pragmatic and develop a personal toolset
  • When facing difficulties, stop and look back once in a while