SxSW: Get Unstuck Notes

by March 20, 2007

Notes from the Get Unstuck: Moving From 1.0 to 2.0 panel at SxSW 2007 taken by Polly Ng:

Getting unstuck depends on perspective and there are multiple different methods.

Design process

  • Put early ideas out out in the open soon
  • get them out on a wiki, blog, flickr, etc . Rally groups to do the same in order to encourage comments and redesigning based on feedback.
  • Manage through conversation - Know what the user is actually saying. Talk a lot before getting to the design. Establish trust. Don't show anything before getting the client to understand what the user needs.
  • Continuous information in and information out
  • Always be engaged with information coming in. Put ideas out there and get feedback on them. Write them down and refine it and put it back into the loop.
  • Accept that things are in constant change and try to be fearless - It is better to be "lamboyant failure or mediocre success"
  • "5 Disfynctions of a team" book - The base is about the absence of trust. Tell the client/team what you don't know.
  • Write an article about it - and share it and change the conversation and the ideas by writing and talking.
  • If you're stuck in a corporate environment, talk to other groups and their experiences.
  • By getting ideas out early, you let people destroy them so that they can be reborn. Focus on the negative space - how they take it in. Let people in to affect it.
  • We live in a soundbyte society so keep things simple - Being very long and wordy can be taken it out of context. Think of simple things. Articulate a goal, keep it simple, so that you can focus on working on it.

The importance of tools

  • Everyone is the designer - everything from the process to the goal.
  • If everyone works with design towards a common goal, we can achieve it
  • Focus on the commonalities and build on those to get forward - not on the difference
  • Use the deliverables of design, methodologies of design (rapid design), design principles without having to call it "design"
  • Do the groundwork to help define it don't be afraid of the menial task.
  • Believe in small teams with everyone being involved and having a focus (ie.language focus, user focus, etc)
  • make everyone feel loved. It's about honesty and communication. Making the team feel good about the product is important too.

Selling design

  • It's not about selling - think about it as adding value any way you can.
  • Can you add value without talking about process?
  • Show a simple process
  • Look at what the problems are with the client - communicate, flirt, have a love match, describe why they need your help, then add the fine print (ie. in the proposal state 3 rounds of testing, etc.)
  • Adapt - people hire people, understand the environment
  • Get to know the client on a personal level to develop long lasting relationship
  • Hire your clients
  • Talk about their problem and their context - what are the results, what are they going to get. Study the in between, study the contexts. Tell them that you will know more after getting to know them.
  • It's about how you make the audience feel - have a one on one dialog with them.

QnA - Lightning round

  • Acknowledge business needs, identify user goals - make a chart to have a dialog with the client
  • Offer free usability session in front of the client to show a real need, use video or the net to illustrate the point
  • Under budget, how to add value? - Volunteer to do extra work; be resourceful
  • Frame it in their context - (ie. "better on bandwidth")
  • Shared priority - show what content is high or low priority on wireframes
  • Open conflict is good

Last words

  • Articulate simple goals, use simple ways to communicate them, communication is key.
  • Be open ("yes and..." here are some ideas)
  • Always have someone on the team to focus on the solution, focus on the common factors, keep the person in mind to keep focus
  • think about what you were celebrating, what have done and what haven't done yet.