How to become Responsible.

User Experience is about responsibility, I once wrote an article that UX is Responsible design.

10499824143_c6d07cd344_z

Here is one of my current favorite person’s take on responsibility. Jacques Ellul writes-

In a society such as ours, it is almost impossible for a person to be responsible. A simple example: a dam has been built somewhere, and it bursts. Who is responsible for that? Geologists worked out. They examined the terrain. Engineers drew up the construction plans. Workmen constructed it. And the politicians decided that the dam had to be in that spot. Who is responsible? No one. There is never anyone responsible. Anywhere. In the whole of our technological society the work is so fragmented and broken up into small pieces that no one is responsible. But no one is free either. Everyone has his own, specific task. And that’s all he has to do.

Just consider, for example, that atrocious excuse… It was one of the most horrible things I have ever heard. The director of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was asked at the Nuremburg trials, “But didn’t you find it horrible? All those corpses?” He replied, “What could I do? I couldn’t process all those corpses. The capacity of the ovens was too small. It caused me many problems. I had no time to think about these people. I was too busy with the technical problem of my ovens.” That is the classic example of an irresponsible person. He carries out his technical task and isn’t interested in anything else.

Become interested in people today.

Designer, Design Thyself

dyl

This was a completely different post when I started writing a week ago. I wanted to critique the Design and Exclusion conference that I attended. Talking about inclusion, exclusion, diversity etc is tough because the attempt to include every single point of view in every single space is futile. However a discussion was started which should be commended. Even though I felt excluded in some areas of the conversation, I trust that design doesn’t give up, (I discovered someone also!), so I look forward to a better conference next time.

As the ideas and words for the critique percolated in my head, I came across Ayse Birsel’s book, Design the Life You Love and it was exactly what I’d been thinking, but now on an individual level. We have with us a powerful tool, design, that can bring about positive change even in our own lives and that’s what this book seeks to help us to do.

DLYL_Don't Fold The Page

Basically, while we attempt to design the world around us, we should not neglect ourselves and our lives. Being able to stop and assess what is, ‘deconstruction’, as Ayse calls it, is the important first phase of the process. This also fits well with the Appraisal theory and to an extent, mindfulness, but it also provides the tools to help in the ‘reconstruction’ process.

“Deconstructing and breaking current reality is necessary to enable us to shift our perspective to see the same things differently in order to reconstruct a new reality that is more than the sum of it’s parts “

I got my copy a few days ago, and I’m excited about going over it. I need it so much in my life right now as I deal with so many moving parts, and I don’t want to lose the ability to see myself in relation with others (partly why I decided not to go ahead with the critique, I needed to take care of the plank in my own eyes).

This is not just for professional designers, it’s for anyone ready to take a step to becoming a better person and having a life where you love and love.

user you

Enjoy.

 

Going Offscreen

off16-8

Last year I was lucky enough to be contacted by Kai Brach the editor of Offscreen Magazine. He featured me in issue 16 but more importantly I got to know about the magazine, and the amazing work he had been doing with them.

From the website:

“Offscreen celebrates the human elements of technology and the web. Through intimate conversations and introspective essays we bring to light the creative struggles behind innovative ideas”

I just got my first copy in the post and highly recommend you go out and buy yourself copies. I don’t know how he does it all but he blogs about the process

As someone who doesn’t buy magazines, this doesn’t feel like one. It feels like an intimate collection of thoughts and ideas, carefully curated just for you.

In the mean time, join the newsletter to get a taster of what Offscreen has to offer

The UX of Teams

img_3078-1

It’s a great opportunity to be able to work with myriads of people, across oceans and cultures and  the quality of connections within a team makes or breaks the product or service they are creating together.

This made me start thinking about what we do within forming and bonding of our teams especially as someone who uses UX as a design approach. Last year in December I also gave a talk about how we need to think more inwardly about our colleagues and coworkers. How are they experiencing life? How are they experiencing the team?. I don’t have all the answers, but a few observations that might help


The one who does not have empathy for colleagues and coworkers they see, how can they empathise with ‘Users’, they have not seen.

Paraphrased, 1 John 4:20 (Bible)


I currently work with two main teams one in the UK and the other abroad as a design lead. Working with the team abroad offered a bit of a challenge because I am remote. One thing I decided to do was think about my motives for joining the team and staying in the team. I also considered making clear the following as we began the process of forming (Team of 8)

Genuine desire to see the team succeed – We tend to think this should be obvious, but even common sense is not common. We have to keep reevaluating our purpose in the team because this shapes our attitude to our colleagues. For example, if we want to see our team succeed we won’t always insist on our own way because that creates discord or we would find a better way to explain why certain things need to be done. Assertiveness is developed in the process.

Shared vision – We use basecamp as our project depot and communication base, and this has helped us in forming well. I asked everyone to write down what they thought about the team and put it up on basecamp; what they saw themselves bringing into team, the values that were important to them etc. We had this all written which was great, but it has been important that in our daily standups and informal meetings these shared vision and values are reiterated.

Openness – As the team was being introduced, this was a key value that was made evident in all the communication channels. Creating an environment where honesty is valued, where team mates can critique a piece of work without the other party feeling attacked. My teammates know they can challenge my design ideas because this frankness has been encouraged from the get go. In an environment where everyone feels free to be themselves, a better version of themselves, higher quality work is almost guaranteed.

When I traveled to meet with my team this month, the outpour of love was overwhelming, and they welcomed me ‘Home’ with music, cake and balloons. This boosted my confidence that we were on the right track and I intend to keep doing what I can to make sure we do not lose sight of ourselves and the vision ahead.

Clients From Hell: Stop Creating Them

Startup Stock Photos

It’s all in memories now, but the lessons linger. Luckily only 5% or less of my projects have been hellish. However, too many of us designers moan about clients we say were born and brought up in hell.The truth is, we create a number of these issues ourselves, or the enabling environment for Frankenstein-like situations to flourish. Continue reading

Gratitude-Thinking: A business approach?

Thanks-Thinking, that’s what I was going to call it, that’s how it was told to me in my dream and then I read the etymology of ‘Thanks’ On second thoughts, maybe that’s not too bad. Think-Thinking Continue reading

Empathy Building: Mental Health Cafe

img_2428

A thing I created while swapping feelings & stories on my first day. Guess what it is 😀

“These are the final 12” She said to me pointing at her phone. I was eating lunch and I couldn’t even imagine what she meant. “Final 12 of?” I continued “Xfactor!”, she exclaimed, “final 12 on Xfactor” Oh, I went, it was only my first day at the mental health cafe. She went on to describe the contestants in detail while I asked for pictures. In the cafe, she was just another person with a particular way of communicating and the added skill of describing things in great detail, straight from memory, in the outside world she would be labelled as “handicapped”

This year has been the toughest year of my life and with suffering, it’s easy for us to disappear into ourselves. Imagine how many other people are going through the same or much worse, we end up with a society where hearts are blocked off from each other.

When I got back to London, after many days of rolling in the dark, I resolved that one of the best ways to get myself out of darkness was to reach out to others. Luckily at the same time I had been introduced to a project by a man whom I’d met and helped earlier in the year.

This project is helping people cope with some mental health challenges. While I was researching around how to connect with more people with these difficulties, I met another man who introduced me to the Dragon Cafe, a pop up mental health cafe, that opens up every Monday in Borough. I was so happy.

“The whole point, is to be a complete antithesis to your average mental health service. People like it, because there’s no pressure to do anything at all. They can sing, if they want to. They can write. They can paint. But they can also just collapse on a bean bag and snore”.

The first day was amazing. Over the course of my volunteering I came to see how many were regulars, why they come to the cafe, how it relaxes them and the friends they make. Every single person in the cafe both volunteers and guests have/had mental health challenges so it makes it easier to talk to people. I work at the art table and I get to see how much being able to ‘play’ makes people happy, free and connected.

As a UX practitioner, it was a no brainer to be amongst those I would be designing for, even though I face mental health challenges myself. As a human, I knew it made sense to be able to connect with others, to come out of oneself. For me, going there helps to build my empathy for others, to understand other perspectives like the lady I had an interesting conversation with about Xfactor,  not to be too hard on myself, to accept orders from others, to co operate with people (we pack up the cafe at night)

A wonderful announcement was made yesterday, some people from PWC will be creating a similar pop up in the City. The cafe makes so much sense and my hope is many more such cafes are created, if you aren’t too busy why not pay a visit or donate to the cause.

Cheerios xo