An Event Apart: Guerrilla Design Tactics

by Luke Wroblewski September 22, 2014

At An Event Apart in Austin TX Samantha Warren talked over ways to get design ideas through organizations. Here's my notes from her talk on Guerrilla Design Tactics:

  • Guerrilla design techniques can start conversations. You don't have to wait for permission to get people talking.
  • Change is hard. Creating design change from the bottom up can feel like being at war or up against giant odds.
  • It's about more than pushing pixels it's about winning hearts and minds. Despite setbacks, bad meetings, etc. we need to keep pushing forward.
  • We have to grow as designers. Things are always changing around us -we have to stay on of technology so we can make great experiences.
  • You are in a position of influence. We can push our teams, clients, and industry forward. It just takes time and patience.

Guerrilla Techniques

  • Guerrilla: actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorization.
  • Make people think, challenge them to think.
  • By being unexpected, you can draw attention to things people take for granted.
  • Stay focused: guerrilla art can become the heartbeat of an organization.
  • Look at everything with a beginner's mind. Be open to possibilities others may not see.
  • Acknowledge the existence of rules and then break them. This helps you gain advantages in the marketplace.
  • Design artifacts like prototypes, story maps, style tiles, and mood boards can help start conversations and change the way groups work together.
  • Tools: frameworks can help you quickly share how products should work. One prototype can save you a thousand meetings.
  • Training: stay up to date on current methods and training.
  • Understand money: find efficiencies in your process to help companies save costs. Dig into scoping, estimating, and more. Spreadsheets and time sheets can help you keep track of where your time is going. Make notes on different projects.
  • Lean in: level the playing field and don't be intimated by people's roles and titles. Understand their challenges and align your work to help them.
  • Do good work, build an excellent reputation based on your work, get people excited about your ideas, be a champion of more than just what you propose.
  • The ability to change minds and lead is directly proportional to how good the people around you perceive you to be at your job.
  • Execute: guerrillas are doers not talkers. You have to do things to create change. If you can't do it internally, start on a personal project yourself.
  • Share what you learn, especially your results. It is up to you to let people know what you learned.
  • Authentically sharing your passion with coworkers is not the same as playing politics. Wars can be won via clear and concise wiki documentation.
  • Rinse & repeat: the more you do this, the more you learn and the more trusted you become.
  • Make your job the place where you can create what you think should exist.