9 posts categorized "Presentations"

Slides from "Design Is Hacking How We Learn"

This past September, I spoke at AIGA Seattle's Into the Woods, a multidisciplinary retreat whose theme was "Survive and Thrive." Five speakers were asked to speak on that theme through the particular lens of their practice, on topics as varied as sustainability (Scott Boylston) to inspiration (Jeanette Abbink) to creativity (Howard Lichter) to business (Seth Johnson and Karen Kurycki). The topic I was asked to speak on was design and education.

At the event, as we participated in far-reaching conversations fueled by everyone's passion for what design could accomplish, it seemed like each night would never end. But just like a long college weekend, we would still have to drag ourselves back to class (and/or work) on Monday. And even if you haven't been to college, you know what that feels like. We've lived it, as part of our experience growing up with school.

Take this scenario. It's your third cup of coffee for the 8 AM seminar, you sit down, and the room feels like it's filled with an incandescent haze drilling holes into your cerebral cortex. The teacher is passing out a handout, you turn it over, and suddenly you realize: You've been smacked with a pop quiz!

The fog lifts as the adrenaline courses through your veins. Sure, you've watched all the lectures, jotted down the occasional notes, and maybe done some of the reading while catching up on Breaking Bad. But the information swirling in your head hasn't come into a coherent whole. Maybe this is what your professor thinks she needs the class to do to critically master the material. And if you're going to get that degree next year and stumble out into the world, this could have an impact on your GPA.

You turn over the paper and see the first question: Can design solve most of society’s biggest problems?*

"Of course! Design can change the world!" You blurt it out loud, without even thinking. Everyone in the room looks at you. Oh, this is going to be easy, you think. I’m just going to write in “Yes.” Next question.

Then, you notice the asterisk. Your eye drops to the disclaimer lurking at the bottom of the page: *Be sure to show your work.

Suddenly, this test doesn't look so easy anymore.

If you'd asked me this question two years ago, I'm not sure I would have had a good answer. It wasn’t until this point in my career, 17 years in, that I could even venture taking a shot at it. So this is the topic of this talk: answering that question. And here's the response I'm going to write on my pop quiz:

Design can solve society’s biggest problems… if we cultivate a love of learning through the design process.

So while I'd been asked to speak on the subject of design and education, my talk wasn't about educating designers. It's about how we learn. The next big disruption in lifelong learning will be by design. We are innately trained and poised to have a global impact on how other people can survive and thrive, whether they are designers or not.

The above slides are from a talk where I outlined how designers can do this better. I argue in this talk that the mode in which designers learn—with a focus on practice and reflection, supported by theory—is not limited to just designers. Taking this orientation towards learning hacks how we learn. This is an approach we can communicate to others.

I believe that anyone can adopt the range of skills that we regularly exercise, and learn about a variety of topics of value to them, without having to formally be or become a designer. This can happen not by redesigning how schools work, per se, but by looking at the design process as a form of skill development that can help people change their world. Within that process, there are simple tools we can teach others that help them to create more meaningful lives, independent of formal design work.

In the first half of the talk, I talked about what survival means through the lens of design and lifelong learning. In the second half, I shared tools I've gathered that have helped me become a more adaptive learner and designer, using the action map of the Collective Action Toolkit as a way to organize them (at the time still a work in progress).

Can You Vote for My 2011 SxSWi Panel Idea?

The Panel Picker has gone up for next year's SxSWi conference, and I'd appreciate it if you could stroll on over and vote on my proposal for this year, which is a new talk with a different take on how interactive designers, developers, and UX professionals can come up with better ideas faster—specifically in the design of interactive products, services, and systems. Here's the abstract:


Better Ideas Faster: Effective Brainstorming for Interactive Design

You're under the gun. Again. Only a few days to come up with a revolutionary new feature for your Web app. Or you've been tasked by your boss to give the company's new mobile experience a little more oomph. Or you're floating in the space of a nebulous client problem that you just can't seem to pin down.

In these situations, it can be hard to focus on coming up with breakthrough ideas. But don't worry—help is to the rescue. David Sherwin from frog design, a global innovation firm, will share tools and methods that any interactive professional can use to more consistently brainstorm quality ideas for interactive products and services. This presentation will be illustrated with examples from frog's interactive work and David's new book Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills (HOW Design Press).

Questions Answered

  1. How can I best structure my brainstorming time for success?
  2. What lightweight brainstorming techniques can I use that will inspire new, more innovative design ideas more quickly?
  3. How can I be more effective in moving from project discovery to generating targeted design ideas?
  4. How can our team collaborate best across disciplines to rapidly iterate any type of interactive experience?
  5. How can our team best synthesize a wide range of ideas into a set of compelling client recommendations?

You can vote on the panel here. Thanks for checking it out!

Slides from "Better Ideas Faster: How to Brainstorm More Effectively" at HOW 2010

Here's the slides from my presentation today at HOW 2010, "Better Ideas Faster: How to Brainstorm More Effectively."

Download the presentation from SlideShare.net. You can also download the handouts that went along with the talk at this link.

It was an honor to present today to a great crowd of over 750 people, and I was especially thrilled to highlight the fantastic design work from the following designers in my upcoming book from HOW Design Press, Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills...

Sean Baker
Donnie Dinch
Meg Doyle
Jarred Elrod
Claire Kohler
Matt McElvogue
Meta Newhouse
Mark Notermann
Jessica Thrasher
Lenny Vella

Hope to see you on Wednesday morning, 9 AM for my panel discussion on creativity!

Slides from "Designing the Design Problem"

Thanks for everyone who came out (virtually) to see my presentation yesterday at Creativity Oklahoma's online conference on applied creativity in art and design. Scott Belsky did a great job of describing the philosophies behind Behance and the research about how people make ideas happen that became the foundation of his bestselling new book.

While Scott was talking about fulfilling creative projects, I took a different tack and provided methods that frog uses to marry our innate skills in creative problem solving with the evolving practice of "problem making" to better serve both clients and users in crafting compelling products, services, and experiences. As a case study, I shared research data and insights that had been part of frog's initiative to encourage HIV testing in South Africa, Project Masiluleke.

This 20-minute presentation was carved out of a longer work I'm putting together regarding the specific kinds of activities that make up what's called "multi-vector research," which is the secret weapon for any design team that is trying to tackle a complex and systemic business problem or world problem and discern what exactly should be designed to influence it for the better.

Slides from "Work in Progress: Thoughts on Design Leadership"

Here's the slides from my AIGA Seattle presentation from last week about what it means to be a design leader.

In the coming weeks, I'll be unpacking a few of these slides and sharing out some of my notes on the subject.


The Top Five Design Interview Mistakes


1. Assuming that everyone at Acme Design Firm reviewed your resume and your portfolio before your interview.

I have watched this happen over and over again. Invariably, what happens is as follows:

Employer: We didn't have our creative director scheduled for this interview. But we decided to invite her along. Do you have a copy of your resume for her?

You: No... Could you print one off for her from the PDF I sent along?

Employer: [frustrated, but not showing it] Sure, that wouldn't be a problem. Also, our Wi-Fi network is down and the conference room that we're in doesn't have a computer. Could you bring out your laptop and show your portfolio from there?

You: Errr... My portfolio only works from my Web site.

In these kinds of situations, you can hear the punctured balloon of your professionalism starting to leak air. From here, you need to claw your way out.

Continue reading "The Top Five Design Interview Mistakes" »

Coming Soon to a Concept Presentation Near You

Concept: Take One

Like most people, I enjoy watching movie trailers -- and not just because of my love of slick CG graphics and fancy typography. If a trailer looks bad, I've saved two hours of time and ten dollars of my hard-earned money on a film that will probably be terrible.

Clients view concept presentations in the same way. If their company is going to live with a creative idea for a good length of time, then the trailer -- your concept presentation -- has to reel them in from the very beginning. Life's too short for slogging your way through Ishtar on a weekly basis.

Let's put on our director's caps, rustle up some popcorn, and screen some of the tricks we can invigorate our concept presentations, Hollywood style.

Continue reading "Coming Soon to a Concept Presentation Near You" »

Beyond Reason: Getting Clients to Care About Your Concepts

Feel. Think. Ignore.

It's a blustery fall day, and you're set to meet with a new, exciting technology client. You sit down at the table, trade business cards, and sip away at your cup of chai tea, preparing for a download on the strategy that will help underpin your creative brief. However, much to your surprise, the client pulls out a thick stack of papers and begins describing all the great product features that will wow customers and make it easy to sell their Widget9000. You put down your pencil and stop taking notes. The client frowns. "This is the kind of information you were looking for, right?"

We spend a great deal of time listening to our clients rattle off these kinds of lists. Maybe we should spend more time explaining why, if they put that kind of information in front of their customers, they probably won't care.

Customers care, then they find reasons to support how they feel. The kind of client I noted above wants a reason for customers to care, which is then supported by how they feel. The latter seems less nebulous, less squishy... but it isn't quite how customers (a.k.a. humans) view marketing materials.

This disconnect has massive implications. It not only means that you'll have to shovel through the details to find a jewel of insight, the centerpiece of your creative strategy. It means that you'll probably have to surmount a rationalistic mindset when you present your concepts.

Continue reading "Beyond Reason: Getting Clients to Care About Your Concepts" »

The Client as Visual Decorator

Make It Red

If you've ever had a big corporate client, you've probably had the following type of conversation:

Designer: We've used purple in the logo because it connotes royalty, and since our audience is British nobility, we think it'll really resonate on a deep emotional level.

Client: I don't like purple.

Designer: I understand your personal preference towards another color, but our research and review of your competitive landscape reveals a real opportunity to make purple the real differentiator between you and the Goliath Corporation.

Client: Really, every time I see purple, I get violently ill. There's no way I'm looking at this logo every day for the rest of my life [or until I sell my company next week]. Show me more options.

Designer: Er... [looks panicked, locates nearest exit]

You know how this conversation ends. You make the change or you don't progress with the job. Put up too much of a fight and dishes get thrown around the kitchen, threats are made, and usually by the time everyone's gone kissy-face and made-up, the long-term prospects of working with this client are toast because you weren't a good listener.

Continue reading "The Client as Visual Decorator" »