June 16th, 2016
Design leaders are unsung revolutionaries. They’re often at the forefront of culture change, advocating for a new conversation about creativity and quality. The old one involved meetings, presentations, and top-down mandates, and little to no input from customers.
Expand your palette of culture-shifting tools and discover the power of conversation. Marc will show you how to facilitate interactions between people and groups that lead to meaningful change. You’ll leave this talk feeling empowered to go back home and start your own conversational revolution.
To see the video of Marc’s talk, visit the UX Immersion: Interactions section in our All You Can Learn Library.
Marc Rettig: I’d like to start with a story, but in order to tell that story…the story contains a reference that, where I grew up in Montana, everybody just knew this reference, but I’ve since learned that not everybody knows this reference, so first I have to tell a different story in order to tell the real story.
There’s long and short versions of it. I’m going to tell the short version. A couple had a young son, about five years old. They started to realize this boy had developed an extreme personality. He was extremely optimistic, unfailingly optimistic to the point they started to worry, “He’s going to get killed once he gets to school, once he gets out in life. We’ve got to do something about this.”
At the advice of a psychiatrist, the father decided to intervene. He took the boy to a room, piled nearly to the ceiling with horse manure. “Son, I have something for you.” He took him to this room. The place smelled terrible. It was an awful pile.
But instead of showing disappointment, the boy squealed with delight and climbed up onto the manure pile and just started digging with his bare hands, digging in this pile. “Son, what are you doing?” The father was mystified.
The boy, with a gleaming smile on his face says, “With all this horse shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”
Marc: That’s the optimism story. I drew you a picture.
Marc: I’m always thinking of you. Now I can tell my real story. I don’t know, it was maybe 2000, 2001, something like that, user experience was really catching on. There were these agencies cranking up, making piles of money, doing UX consulting.
Other firms, some of the more technology consulting firms wanted to get in on the game.
I misspent a year working in what had been a technology consultancy. They were building their UX practice. The way they did that was they hired a bunch of mostly graphic designers mostly from ad agencies. Then they hired almost anyone with the word “Cognitive” in the name of their degree or usability people, the ACI people.
They said, “Great.” They called them creatives and cognitives. The project manager would call and he would say, “We need two cognitives and a creative on this project.
I had the job of trying to help wrangle this into a national practice. About three months in, I had this idea that maybe instead of jetting around and dropping in on these difficult situations, maybe we could have a center. People could learn. Clients could learn.
I worked up this pitch, a budget, and had these ideas. It was time to go present to my boss, whose name Bruce, because we needed executive approval for space, money, and so on.
I prepared this presentation. Now it’s me, Bruce, and one of his senior management peers. I’m giving this presentation, a lot weighs on it. About two-thirds of the way through, Bruce looks at the other manager and he says, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”
Marc: That signaled to me that he considered what he’d heard so far a pile of horse manure. I drew you a picture of that, too. I drew Bruce as a blue genie and myself as a supplicant.
This is all going to come together. I’m going to keep telling stories for a second. I promise it’ll tie together.
Here’s another story. It’s bigger than we thought. This was a work at a big global company. It was Healthcare Products Division. They were saying, “You know, there’s a lot of people in China. Maybe we could go there.”
The question was, how much do we have to change our brand and our products in order to be appealing in China? We were part of it and so were some engineers, product designers, and a bunch of branding and marketing specialists. One of the things we did was curate the strategic immersion. It was something like 10 days.
We visited homes, we visited hospitals, we interviewed hospital executives, everybody got a check-up from from three different kinds of Chinese doctors, and quick massage, and all kinds of things, and we reflect it in the field. We all together, these three kinds of people, learned something.
We saw that modern and traditional approaches are blending. We saw this culture of lifelong exercise from regimented exercise in the school yard to older people in the parks doing tai chi. We saw, over and over again, this attitude that food is medicine.
Your choice of what to eat is part of thinking about your own wellness and your family’s wellness. These definitions of wellness, like wellness is balance and illness is unbalance. It’s less about symptoms, and let me get rid of the symptoms, it’s why I am out of balance, how we get back into balance even if that takes sometime.
We had experiences, like in the morning it was a hot day. We went to a place that’s called Smoothies, that sounded so great. They wouldn’t sell them to us because cold on a hot day…they said they has ice in it, but we know. They got ice and showed it to us because they didn’t think we understood.
Like, “Please, would we have smoothies?” “No, hot tea for you.”
Marc: Going to visit people in their homes, they just brought us cups of hot water because they’re taking care of us. Different.
Over and over again, we bumped into this issue of generational shifts, where there has been this system of younger generations caring for older generations. They’re now living a part in this possible crisis going on of elder care.
Coming out of all of that, the question changed from how will we have to change our products. How do we change to sell the same stuff? This is bigger than we thought. This isn’t only a product marketing and design decision, this is a…we came face-to-face with this dance between old traditions and modern, and some remarkably compelling narratives about wellness.
What if we were a wellness company not a medical products company? What would it look like for us to embody the wellness as balance tradition in global products? Could we bring some of that back to the west?
Basically, the team’s conversation changed and then they try to change the internal conversation to be even more strategic than we started out. I drew a picture of that, which is quite a contrast with the Bruce picture. We’re this group of explorers wandering off into some territory we had been to before.
Let’s compare that. Bruce, that conversation was his boss subordinate, Genie Suplican, situation, and China abandoned explorers. When I met with Bruce…really, that’s not the greatest situation, was this rare meeting. We haven’t really talked about our view of what was going on in the agenda.
I was pitching from my point of view and he was listening from his point of view. In China, we had this very mixed group, we have the sponsorship of stakeholders, we had interviewed the stakeholders, and the mold with Bruce was like, I’m presenting to persuade, and this group in China was doing curious exploration together.
Very different. I’m using a big definition of conversation here. Serve and unspoken business agenda, he never really said why he thought he was in order to serve the future of the business and the future of wellness.
Since Bruce and China, I’ve experienced change in perspective. That, in turn, has changed my view of organizations, and design, and research, and leadership, and that, in turn, has changed how I see work and how I work.
There’s basically a whole university course there, but I’m just going to talk about two aspects of this.
One is how I see organizations. So I used to see organizations either as command and control, top down structures. This is how we’re taught in textbooks. Sometimes I saw them as like, “Look, I’m just trying to do the work I didn’t want to do, but I’m in the woods here.
I don’t really know what’s going on. All I can see is what’s around me. I just want a place to do good work so other people are taking care of it. I don’t know how they understand, but I’m glad they do.”
I thought I was alone in this, but basically I have felt lost in every organization bigger than 15 employee since that I’ve been an employee of.
This was another view of organizations. For most of my mid-career there was something I wanted to shift, but I felt powerless to shift it.
My picture is that an organization is a living process. It’s more like an ant colony than an art chart, except it’s not ants responding mechanically to pheromones. It’s people in conversation with each other, full of emotions, and not always acting rationally.
This has been one of the problems. Organizational change efforts don’t have a very good reputation, partly because they’ve been taking this command and control and mechanistic view of organizations with the idea that things will go according to plan, if you can just incent people or mandate things.
Really, the organization’s almost entirely made of relationships, the way people see each other, the way people see the world, the way they see themselves in relationship to each other in the world.
Those things form structures and patterns of behavior to operate across those structures. I know that’s abstract, but we’ll go somewhere with it.
The organization’s made of us, and we’re influenced by it. There’s this really amazing circular relationship between individuals and system. This is true with families, school, classroom, here at the conference. What’s going on is made of us. We’re influenced by things like the conference script.
Here’s a little video of…it’s about three minutes long of something that we do. One of the things I do with my colleague is teach at Carnegie Mellon University in the School of Visual Arts.
We try to give students experiences so that it’s not just an abstraction, this idea that we’re participating in a system, but they actually get to live in a miniature way. Take a look here at this. if I can find the play button.
Marc: That system game is an amazing experience. It almost always works, and then we sit and talk about the implications. People will say things like, “Well, I knew that I was…”
I hope you understood the rules. You pick two people. You start in a circle. You pick two people, and your job is to, when you say go, your job is to maintain an equal distance between yourself and those other two. Then you move around.
You’re like, “Well, I knew I was really following two people, but once we sat down I realized people were following me.” Then that standing up has that same effect. When we were standing up, you detect these little systems, little sub-webs of relationship.
It’s quite powerful to experience it personally, and there’s all sorts of systems lessons, systems facts about complex emergent, complex dynamic systems that you can learn from this.
The way that this is affecting my work is I’m starting to see that participating in a system is an act of either reinforcing its patterns or of leading an invitation to shift its patterns. Participation is an act of change or leadership and we can’t help but participate.
Rather than trying to show Bruce a pony, can I do something that would attract others to participate? If something good develops when they are attracted, can I stabilize it and reinforce that, or maybe even amplify it? Now I see myself as being in the business of pattern shifting.
Meanwhile, most of our communication tool kit comes from a world, kind of a view of organizations as more transactional where we send, present, and equip. The emphasis is on individuals.
There’s a body of methods, a body of ways of working that more emphasize mutual discovery, mutual creation, and pattern shifting, which is some of the things we explored yesterday in the workshop. You can see that in the handouts that are available.
I see it as made of conversation, this is kind of the other part, not just seeing it as systems, but seeing it as these are systems made of conversations. As Jared said in the introduction, a lot of what we talk about when we have shop talk is about these special activities.
We did research. We worked out the design brief and did research, made journey maps, did a presentation, we did a prototype.
There are these artifacts and special moments that are the focus of most of our conversation, but the truth is those things all come from thousands of conversations and decisions.
They’re just a ritual in this stream, this confluence of rivers and creeks of conversation and activity that are going on all the time, and not just at the office. They’re going on on the phone, in the bars, in the lunch room.
The more realize this and taken on this different perspective, the more I then faced with thee question, “Well, then how do we work?” Here’s a story about working conversation. We had a call…this is also before we…we were up early in this question, “How do we work.”
We were just starting to accumulate some methods and tools and things that we would love to practice in a corporate setting, but we were a little scared because it seemed different than what people are used to doing.
We had a call from a pre-senior manager in about a 300 person IT organization in this pretty large international food company. He said, “We need to get better at requirements gathering.” “Really? Why do you say that?” They make all of this software for all of these other departments.
They make software for manufacturing, sales, marketing, executives, and so on. “Why do you say we need to get better requirements together?” “Well, people don’t like what we make. They don’t use it. They may as well sell spreadsheets instead. They’re not using…”
“Oh, well how do you decide what to make?” “Well, once a year, our director gets together with the directors from all of the other departments and they set the project agenda for the year.” “Oh, so you don’t talk to these people?” “No.” He went “No.”
They’re making software for sales, but they don’t talk to sales. We said, “Maybe, rather than requirements gathering, lets try getting some people together and across these boundaries, and you can actually be in the same room with them.
Maybe the question can be, how might something better show up. Lets not assume the answer yet.” We got, I think there were a dozen of people or so in the basement of a farm house for like four days and we just picked one department, it was sales and IT.
I just want to briefly show you, I’m not going to tell the whole story of the four days, some of the activities that we did to set up for telling you about principles so you can get an idea of what it looks like to try to work conversation. This is us taking our first steps into this kind of work.
The first question when we got together was sales from IT, “Who are you guy? How can we really see you. IT, who are you?” Each group worked together to answer this series of questions to help them be seen by the other group.
Here they are in the basement, there was a magnificent number of pipes in that basement, I don’t know why. The first question was “What are you really good at? What value do you bring to others and the whole company?” The second question was “What do you need in order to do a good job?”
IT on one side and sales on the other side wrote on these big sheets the answers to these questions. Third question, “Where do your outside expectations come from? Who’s asking you for things, holding you accountable?”
Fourth, “What kind of projects or situations bring out the best, make you excited to get out of bed in the morning?” The fifth question is “You don’t have to answer this, but if you want you could tell us your undiscussables — the elephants in your room.”
The important topics you just don’t talk about because you’re afraid, uncomfortable, or it just doesn’t seem OK. They answered that. Then they told each other about their world. Already, this interest…sales comes to IT and says, “We have stereotypes. We see through our stereotypes.”
Their expectation was “Well, they’re not going to be very socially apt. They’re going to talk a technical jargon. You’re going to hear a lot of jargon.” They have these stereotypes. The IT guys think the sales just want to shake your hand all the time, they smell like cologne.
Marc: Who knows?
I don’t know exactly…everybody had [inaudible 25:58]. “They talk? Oh god, they talk all the time.” Already, we’re an hour in and those labels and presuppositions are falling away and they’re starting to look at each other with admiration like “I didn’t know that about you.” The second question was “What’s going on?”
Now that we see who each other is, the groups learned a lot about each other, so now they work again in separate groups and they responded to questions aimed at bringing out a description of their current situation. We design these to steer the conversation toward a possibility focus rather than a problem focus.
Rather than what’s broken now, what’s possible now? Which is a very powerful thing to do, if you can shift a conversation from problem to focus to possibility to focus, you’ve made a big step. Again, we gave them these worksheets.
Each sheet had these three categories, people and things, organizational process and structure, relationships, values, and purpose. The first sheet was “What are your seeds?” These are the things that exist that have a lot of potential that you would like to continue in the future, and grow larger in the future.
The second sheet was your stones. These are things that get in the way of the seeds growing, they’re barriers, and they can be internal or external. Then they listed the weeds, the things you’re doing now that you would like to stop doing, avoid taking in your future, somehow pull those weeds.
Again, they made these lists, they showed them to each other, and now you can start to see lights turning on between these two groups because “I think we can help you guys with that. Oh, I didn’t know that you had that seed. We kind of need that thing to grow.” There are people starting to light up a little bit.
Then we did this exercise that…this is something that we did yesterday in the workshop, this situation modeling workshop. Yesterday, we modeled situations. In this workshop, they made models kind of an essence of IT, what’s the heart of it. You know, what’s your real core purpose, your real identity?
I’ll be brief about this, this is one of the models where what came out in the story about this model was one of balance. They made individual models and then they made these group models. One thing I’ll say about this is, this is a place where we were scared because these are like middle America middle aged conservative IT guys.
They’re not artists. They’re not poets. [laughs] We’re asking to do these things, just work with these materials. My colleague is really good at setting up why, bringing in your intuitive side, not just your analytical side. There’s a very reasonable story about why to do this. We said, “OK, make a model.”
They were like “Well, OK,” and they just did it. There was no push back. There was no…
We’re finding that we often underestimate people’s willingness to work creatively and go deep in their conversation. This led to a moment in talking about their model.
What came out was a shift in their identity towards possibility because they had written, “We are great makers. You give us something to do and we’ll make something and we’re good at it. We’ll be reliable.” It’s partly because of hearing sales say, “”You know what, I think you’re underselling your ability.”
They crossed out “Makers” and wrote, “Creators. We’re creators.” Now, we have the conditions in place for this group of people, sales, and IT to create together. They stepped away from the way things are. They stepped out of their office. They stepped away from their stereotypes. They stepped away from the old conversations.
They got past the usual stories of judgment. They got past the stories of, “I better deliver or I want be able to keep my job” kind of stuff. The room is full of this honesty and openness, this sense of possibility. They feel like they’ve really been heard and understood.
They see their situation in a new way together and they’ve been laughing silliness. There’s a great John Cleese talk about creativity. One of the things he points out is that silliness and humor is essential to creativity. That was present in the room. I’ll cut it short. I’m not going to like…you get the idea, I think.
This illustrates where the conversation went by them. They wound up doing lots of concepts and an actual road map. You can see on this quadrant that…the lower left is “We’re working independently and we’re reacting. We’re order takers. People tell us what to do and we work by ourselves to do it.”
That’s what led to the phone call, “People don’t like what we make.”
Partly from sales talking to them in a different way, they realized that they were being invited to be partners with the rest of the organization. To be leaders. Asked to be more proactive, and to work in a more integrated way.
The concepts that we’re coming with is how do we move up into the ride on this map which was a really different conversation, then help us get better requirements gathering. That story illustrates some goals, or principles that we now bring to our work.
One is increase the surface area. Jared has an article out there pointing out that there’s a correlation between the amount of time that a team spends with its customers, and the quality of the result. It goes on to say there’s a frequency, an amount of exposure with this idea the exposure time, increase in quality.
I sure agree with that, and I’d add another way to increase exposure which is to increase surface area. By that, I mean, what’s your answer to the question? How much of your organization actually touches the outside world?
Of course everybody goes home at night to their families, and they’re in the, I don’t know. They bowl, and go to church and stuff. They have kids in soccer, but that’s not the organization touching the lives that it affects with these decisions.
If you remember that the view of organizations, or that their process has made patterns of conversations, and we tend to keep having the same conversations with the same people. We’re repeating these patterns, and in my experience, even conversations about innovation are often caught in these internal bubbles with small surface area that just sort of poke out, and send a researcher out into the world once in a while.
It’s a very powerful pattern shifting technique to increase surface area. That that China story is an example of taking people from across multiple silos, and really getting them in touch. Yesterday in the workshop, we tried a thing called collective story harvest.
Ten people told stories, and people listen to those stories through very particular lenses that focus their attention on a particular aspect of the story like leadership, or principles, or moments that really were a turning point in the story.
If you gather diverse people from across the organization, and maybe you can’t take a hundred people outside to do research, and it’s hard to get your executives to go to research, you can gather them to listen to stories for a few hours.
Then you can set the conditions for them to move their center of attention outside their judgment by giving them a particular way to listen, and then spend some time combining.
We had to do a hasty job yesterday, but if there were 10 stories in the room, and here are engineers and executives and sales, and quality, and call center listening to these stories, now we can hear, “OK, if in this room, we had 10 stories. What did we learn about turning points in these customers’ live from all these stories?”
We can harvest, we can combine insights from all these stories. It’s one example both of increasing exposure time, and surface area, and the workshop handout points to a few other kinds of methods that you might use for this.
Another goal, or principle is increase the diversity. In a lot of organizations, I guess what’s the metaphor. There’s lumps in the gravy. There’s a lot of bubble. It’s not only departments, and tiers of the organization, but it’s like the new guys, or the people that play baseball together.
There’s all these little bubbles where they mostly communicate with each other, and then they have less communication out. Often, our processes work with lumps. We work with the team. We work with the innovation management, or something, so not always very diverse.
Increasing surface area becomes way more powerful if you also increase the diversity of people that have contact with outside the world. If you could do story harvest, get lots of different kinds of people in there, and that will change the conversation between the bubbles, because now they have this experience they had together, and thus they talk about it.
We have a couple of solvents. One is convene diversity, and power. Especially to convene power may take a process of going around, and really listening to senior people. It can be a 15-minute phone call, or it can be a 90-minute interview.
You wouldn’t ask the question this way, but you’re trying to get at, “What actually do you care about? What are you trying to make happen in this organization, and why? What brought you here, and where do you think you want to…?”
You get down to what these folks really care about until you can make an invitation that touches on that care. You’re trying to convene a group that actually can have some legitimacy, and affects the larger organizational conversation, but you can’t always do that.
Our other principle is convene the people that show interest. Often, that means convening the pioneers.
In the conversation about UX and design culture, we’ve bumped into people in big organizations who their strategy was…half of these product groups have somebody that has read Don Norman, or taken an online HCI course, or something like that. They’re kind of pioneers. They’re not trained designers, but let’s start connecting them.
You’re connecting diversity across the organization, and now, if you can get the diversity in touch with the outside world, you’re increasing diverse surface area. It’s quite powerful. Third of four. Humanize. I worked for a couple of years with now passed wonderful guy, and designer, and strategist named John Ryan Frank.
One of the things he would do especially in a stuffy corporate setting, not in a meeting, but if he was like walking down the hallway. He looked with pretty senior people. One of the things he would do was take his shoes off, and sit down on the floor.
It felt like this radical act, but now, he and this other guy were just…it just invites the little boy, or a little girl into the room. We had an engagement with a Microsoft new product group. It lasted something like nine months.
They were blazing away at this technology, and we and their manager, we were working for were out looking at the slices of life that this technology was supposed to blend with. He was having a hard time being heard, and so sometimes, instead of meeting at the offices, we would take a walk in the woods outside Redmond.
It was on those walks in the woods that we could talk about the human pressures of the project. The humans that were applying the pressure, and who they were, and how they might respond to.
This is one of the more vague principles, but it’s when we start to work conversationally, we’re realizing it’s humans. Not project managers, or senior designers, or budget control officers or something. They’re humans, and a lot of the methods that we’ve been working with make it comfortable.
We did a thing yesterday called World Café that basically sets up a café setting, and music is playing, and there’s snacks on the table. It’s just a structured way for a lot of people, for one room to have one conversation, to listen to the room. It’s utterly comfortable on-ramp, to having a group conversation, and it’s very human because it has these familiar trappings of a café.
There’s also a thing in this human thing of lightening up. Another John Cleese point of our creativity is that very important matters especially benefit from humor, and from a lighter touch. We can be too serious. That’s one reason I am giving you little silly sketches. [laughs]
Deepen. This is the fourth goal. One of the scariest maybe if you’re just starting to have work in this way, but I think one of the most profound. I don’t mean reading poetry, and talking about your insecurities, and displaying your giblets.
I mean that we can create the conditions in which the conversation moves from debate to curiosity, and then in which the conversation can move from curiosity to sense of possibility where we’re talking about the bigger story.
We have this word, imagination, and I learned from the poet, David White, that our idea of imagination where we make up stories, we think about fairy tales, or something, is what the cultic poets might have called secondary imagination, or they maybe called it fantasy.
Primary imagination is the ability to conceive of a story, or see the story that helps you make sense of all the other stories. In all of our organizations, there’s something bigger that this organization is participating in, and for every one of our teams, there’s something bigger that this team is helping to make come true over the longer term.
Deepening the conversation for us means help create the conditions where the group can remember that they’re participating in this bigger thing. It’s not only about the next quarter. It’s not only about meeting the numbers.
One other point about this, there’s this idea of courageous conversation. Sometimes in our planning, it’s not so much deepening. We may talk about courageous. Let’s see if we can get to courageous conversation.
Another thing I learned from White, it makes sense once you think about it. The root of courage is an old French word “Coeur”Yeah, heart. It’s courage. It’s wholeheartedness. The courageous, courage, courage isn’t running into the bullets. Courage is being in touch with what makes you full of energy, and wholehearted.
Courage has heat. It’s a creative fire, and that can burn away these divisions, and these labels. These disagreements, and stereotypes. When I see deep, and I mean learning to move conversations below this surface patterns, and stories into the realm of wholehearted creativity.
This experience started to get there with these folks, and I’m going to end there, and I think we’ll have time for questions.
Jared: Thank you, Marc. I’m going to ask you a similar question with the one I asked Dan. We have a lot of new people coming into the field. What are the traps that those folks fall into that we can catch them at an early time, and get the conversations going in the right direction?
Marc: That’s a question one should think about before he answers.
Marc: The thing that came up in a conversation yesterday in the workshop, so it’s not only new people, but maybe when you’re new is your chance to try to do different. Is especially when it is so many of us want to go to the cool job, and the cool spot, and often those cool jobs are very fast paced, and they’re very high pressure and there’s performance pressure, and room.
Like this side, we talked about refraction. Yesterday, I gave people we do some things, and then I’d say, “OK, just take two minutes. We’re going to be quiet. Write in your notebook,” then they’ll be quiet. I’m rumbling because I don’t have the specific recommendation, but I think the more we can…
Actually, can I totally diverge from that?
Marc: There’s a conclusion. It’s why I have this piece of paper up here that I didn’t read. Is that all right?
Marc: Let’s see if it’s still worth reading. This is a point of view that I’ve had to work to embrace in the moment, in the heat of a project, and if as a work culture, we can, over the coming years, start to adopt that, and welcome new people into it instead of into the hasty pace, yeah.
It’s a point of view that says because organizations are not machines, because people cannot be brought into new behaviors through compliance, or explaining things to them, because the living system of an organization can’t be influenced through command and control or pitch, let’s let go of our transactional view of work.
In our shark talk, it seems like we believe that if we just get a journey map right, or show them highlights videos, we can revise that presentation, or more time, we’ll finally have the impact we’ve been wanting to have, and we’ll finally ship a product that makes life better.
It’s not the journey map, or the video of the presentation. It’s the conversations that surround them, and the conversations that led you to want to make them. The conversations that need to happen about what to make, and most important, the conversation about who we are together and what’s our relationship to the rest of the world, and what’s the bigger story, and arch of history in which we’re participating in.
There’s this idea of the conversation being the work. If you can move yourself towards being a holder of stories. Equip storytelling as being at the heart of our work, and story holding, the story in the conversation will do the work, and get people to wholeheartedness. I’m skipping around here.
Jared: Do you think that designers have a natural proclivity to storytelling? That there’s something in the way that we formulate the problems that we’re trying to solve, and come up with the solutions, that in our heads, we’re sort of always telling ourselves stories, and the way we communicate, and that storytelling becomes a critical skill for designers to be successful?
Marc: Everybody is always telling themselves stories in their heads, but I think design…I’ll say that my colleague, Hannah, and I have sometimes…like are we still in the UX and design community, or are we doing something else?
The more we look at what’s going on in the design community, really, that’s home. This is a bunch of people that actually have the potential to work in this way to be excited about these points of view, to adopt them, and sort of carry them forward. This is a frontier of design practice that I’m talking about.
Jared: We have time for one question. It seems we have a question. Here we go. Thank you for being near the mike.
Audience Member: Being in a large organization, you’re talking about getting the IT team with the sales team. I’m sure that led to some really productive things like that. How then do they treat every other department like that, and then how does that relationship stay nurtured over time because you can’t sort of be best friends with everyone in the company, right?
Marc: No, you can’t. That turns out to not be possible. There’s what happened in that story, and then there’s what we wished would have happened in that story. What happened in that story…
This is the thing we learn from that because this was early, was that there was excited sponsorship for doing that workshop from both sides, but there was not commitment to carry it forward as part of a larger story of becoming partners. That move to partnership did not go all the way across the director level, and all the relations that stalled these other departments. Each had a director.
The sales thing is very healthy. There were things that came out of that. Like they gave all the IT guys these passports. They were sales passports. To get a stamp in your passport, you had to do the thing the page said.
It was just like learn these three sales pieces jargon, these terms. Then you go tell it a guy, and you say, “Well, yeah. That’s right,” and they boom, and stamp your passport. Later, you had to do things like go ride along for a day, or…
The last one in this like 30 page book was to make a little documentary video about the sales organization. If you’ve got a full passport, you were famous in both places. That was an experiment in mingling the departments, and giving incentives to do that.
There was an idea that it may look different in different departments, but if there was commitment to this, it would have fallen through. It didn’t really happen that way and it didn’t really follow through the department so far as I know.
It’s been a while since I talked to this guy, but we have a different conversation upfront now, because of that about what’s this for, where is it going, why, and try to build that commitment. The conditions for its continuation Did that help?
Audience Member: Yeah.
Jared: Thank you very much, Marc.
Marc: Thank you, Jared.