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​Throwback to the #leadingdesign Conference

Listening to role models like Stanley Wood (Design Director, Spotify), Tim O'Reilly and Kate Aronowitz (Design Partner, Google Ventures) inspired me to share a word or two on what was the main thought in London in October 2017.

4 min read Eli-600.jpg by  Elizabeta Novakovic

Throwback to the #leadingdesign Conference.jpg

I felt truly honoured having the opportunity to visit London during the Leading Design conference. Honoured because of both the speakers and the whole audience with more than a decade of experience in diverse job positions related to creation. It's great to talk to people who are "there" where you want to be "when you grow up".

The Leading Design Conference was a lot about leading skills, but I read between the lines that skill is something you get on the way while working on it, so most of the feedback I gathered there was related to design and teams as a whole.

Most of us are passionate about design as something that combines aesthetics and functionality. One can not live without the other. Things just cannot be simply beautiful (pure design) or functional (pure software) - they complement each other.

What is your why?

"Take 30 seconds and tell yourself why you are here and what it is that you want to learn", they said.

My mind was blown away: I want to learn so many things, I thought. The first 10 seconds passed.

"Oh cr**.Ok, ok, think." - I told myself, "I want to defend great design solutions before the client who is trying to steal them like kids stealing chocolate from the closet, suggesting to them extraordinary digital solutions (and have them listen)." The piece in the brackets was already out of this 30-second frame, as you might assume.

These brackets are real life situations. We have a great solution and we compromise until they do not listen. Possibly, that's around of 60% of design pleasure.

Design negotiations are stressful to do, but most often a certain percentage of them are out of our control because we are talking about big organisations with hundreds of rules and regulations. For that reason we need a great team of people. People and specialists who understand that you cannot build the right thing before knowing what the right thing is, who our most important users are and what our most important user's goals are. Aesthetic in this case is a desirable component, and being functional is being appropriate.

Stanley Wood explained how they measure all parts of the experience, not just the design one, and I found this key word to be the most meaningful one: "TUNE".

  • Tone. Are we using the right tone of communication?
  • Usable. Is it accessible to everyone?
  • Necessary. Is that functionality really needed?
  • Emotive. Does it feel good to use? Does it feel like somebody really cares?

We should always look for more quality especially because experiences are about feelings, and the interfaces we are building are like brands.

Following the three most important themes for every company to understand, People, Process & Tools, the next important word that was used a lot was demystification of a certain problem. Demystification before even starting to sell the problem-solution. Designers and teams usually jump from problem to problem-solution without asking themselves what it is exactly that needs solving and without questioning the potential of the new creation. That's how they build the correct thing, but it gives no thought to the future and possible new implementation scenarios.

One size never fits all

Leading a team of people, no matter the profession, according to most speakers, is a tricky piece. It's constant growth and development. They do not just stick to one role as the project is changing. In general, they are trying to understand when each of the team members is being a player and when a victim. Real empathy breeds alignment and understanding in one another. Each team member is a snowflake and every one is really different. Diversity in knowledge and passion is treated as strength. A common mistake recognised across companies is to fill the workplace with people who are very alike to the ones that are already there.

No scale without skill

At the end of the day, being a leader is more talking than doing. It's leading people to do things in a joyful way, not caring most about the outcome - but rather the journey. Design will not scale or improve itself without the leader being intentional about the change in constructing a system for growth. It's a piece that will be learnt by doing only. There is no book that can help without trying hard.

Each of the leaders had a certain amount of fearful thoughts as it's a job with high responsibilities, but they all left me with one powerful thought: If you want to change the way of being, you have to change the way of doing. Let's embrace this mindset change and wait for nothing less but can't waits. Towards better and more meaningful software & design solutions with great minds.

PS.: Why is talking important

Well, most folks still don't know what designers do, and someone definitely needs to tell them!


If you want research more about the speakers on Leading Design Conference 2017 - head over here

A great article from Stanley Wood about Leading Design Secrets is definitely worth of reading

Want to discuss this post with us in person? Join our Digital Experience Group and make sure you attend our next #dxmeetup!

About the author

This is Elizabeta

Wherever you are, be there.