Episode 56 highlights – Scott Berkun podcast about How Design Makes the World:
- An overview of Scott’s new book, How Design Makes the World
- Remote work for design, UX and product teams
- How to create a workplace for UX professionals to get their best work done
- How to explain the value of design to executives and stakeholders
- What to do when your product managers, executives and engineers “just don’t get” design
- Builder culture, what it is and how to work within it to promote higher quality UX
- Effects of industrialization on building products and how it translates to software management culture
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(this transcript was automatically created using our very own transcription feature in Aurelius and has been minimally edited, please excuse any typos or weirdness 😀 )
This is the Aurelius podcast episode 56 with Scott berkun. I’m Zack Naylor, co-founder at Aurelius and your host for the podcast where we discuss, all things, ux research and product. In this episode, we have Scott berkun Scott is very experienced, speaker author, and practitioner in the ux and product world. He joined us to share a bit more about his most recent book how design makes the world. That examines all the ways design impacts, our everyday lives in so many ways.
It’s a great chat about how to explain design to non-designers in our personal and professional life. Scott, and I also talked a lot about remote work due to the global pandemic and his previous book A Year Without pants, which was hugely popular 10 years ago. It was fun and interesting to chat with him about how remote work has completely taken off out of necessity. And he shared some tips on how to do that. Well, and what’s changed. This was a great episode with a world renowned speaker and author. Scott has such passion and energy around digital product and Design.
That I know you’re going to love it. This podcast is brought to you by Aurelius the powerful research repository and insights platform. Aurelius is an all-in-one space for researchers to organize and analyze data capture insights and share outcomes with your team transcribe. Audio visualize themes, capture findings and have report created for you automatically, which you can share with anyone in moments. Check us out at Aurelius lab.com. That’s a you re Liu es el a b.com
Let’s get to it. Hey Scott! Hey Zach, how’s it going? Good. I’m glad to hear that we’re more partially laughing here because we use zoom to record this and they just updated something where it’s very loudly. Blatantly let you know, it’s recording. Probably an a good security and sort of privacy feature, but there was no mistaking. Now that we are being recorded. Not only, they didn’t know everybody has to know, none whatsoever. It was, it was very much a T-bone situation. They’re very jarring
anyway, I really appreciate you jumping onto to chat with us before when your work for a while. So I’m personally really excited to have a chance to chat with you. Well, thanks for having me on, definitely, so before we even kick things off and dig into a conversation for anybody who’s listening, that might not know who you are already, could you introduce yourself? Give a little bit of background things. You’re passionate about. Sure. Yeah. So I’ve had a long career in the ux world, I studied ux and HCI stuff a long time ago at Carnegie Mellon University and then I was user researcher for a little while but most of
Career was spent as a project manager, I was a team leader, kind of person for a long time and then after about a decade of that, I quit the try to something else, which is write books, which is what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. Now written eight books, some on project management making things happen, some on Innovation. And I think the reason I’m here is because I wrote a new book called How design makes the world. And that’s, I think my story. Yeah, for sure. And I did want to call out to, I don’t know how long, how much time you spent in the Pittsburgh area CMU. That’s where I’m originally from.
So I just kind of wanted to shout that out there yet. Had a lot of friends. There’s got to represent. All right, it’s herself. That’s right, that’s right. Awesome. Yeah, for sure. And I think your background is quite broad. I don’t think you’re being as fair with how much experience you have. But there’s a lot of really cool stuff that you’ve done. And yeah, specifically the most recent book to, I think, is really, really interesting that I want to dig into and on that note with you being an author and things like that a useful place or at least a curious place for me to start. Is you wrote a book a while ago called year?
Out pants and that was about the future of work. It was a lot about working remotely and things like that. Right. I gotta just a skin. At least, get out of the way. We can certainly talk about it more, but, yeah, given that we literally all had to do that, right? For a 12 to 18 months. Given the pandemic. How much of that were you just sitting there going? I told you because I just gotta Wonder like what were you thinking. As you were seeing people struggle with this and adopt it and can work through it. I think that it was not a surprise that what
The point of view I take in the books, I worked at automatic, which they’re known for making wordpress.com. I worked there for about a year and a half to explore the culture. How does this work? As a traditional manager, can you work remotely? I did. That was the question. I had a never really done it and the books. Take on remote work, was mostly positive. I felt like I could get everything down. They need to do as a manager healthy, team productive, all those issues, I felt were reasonably achievable in most workplaces not for everybody but certainly
It’s a reasonable thing, any organization to consider. So when everybody was forced to do it and there was all the screaming and yelling and panic, I felt like this for a lot of you especially Tech workers, knowledge workers, you’ve been working remotely. Anyway, if you’re working through a screen like if you’re working through a screen for 60% of your day, and that’s how you interact with your co-workers, then you could do that anywhere. You could be in China, you could be on the moon as long as you had good Wi-Fi working through a screen means you’re already remote and so that was the premise I had and it was
Not really a surprise. And of course I wrote this book in 2013. There are already plenty of people before me and other people who had written about remote work and advocated for it. So I was aware of that Community. The big surprise though was if you had asked when the book came out, what will it take for culture? At large to support remote work, I would have offered some very practical sensible things I would never have guessed that. It would have required, a pandemic to get people to do it but that ties into I guess a general.
About human nature that we love to talk about it. We love is all about Innovation, all progress. Yes. I want more Innovation more progress but when people accept to change their habits, their rejected, the hey, this is Terry. Why don’t want to do it? We’re can’t work. So it was fun to see how companies like Google and apple that had been so strongly against remote work for so long eventually. We’re like, okay, this works to some degree will keep it. That was a big. Sigh was a big surprise, that’s really something, right? And even I might be not getting
The name right of this but is it Google Starlight? It’s something like that. Where it’s like real deal. Sci-fi hologram interactive calls, it mean it’s ridiculously. Cool is very impressive. From what I saw it was at the last Google conference it going. Yeah, or whatever. It is really impressive stuff. So it’s yeah, I mean they’re doing it but they’re also like, literally building stuff that helps other people have this really immersive experience. The through a remote or non-physical, call a day like heavy check, mark to the thing. You said, in terms of just human nature and behavior
Your where everybody loves to get excited about ideas but enacting them is like the hard thing. Adopting them is the hard thing. And I actually, I’d be curious to hear your opinion on this, but I was telling people even at the start of the pandemic I said look a lot of this sucks a lot, but I have a feeling a lot of good is going to come out of this because it’s forcing people to look at the world in a different way. I suppose with the lens, especially the you talk with remote work, do you feel like that’s true? Do you feel like it was a good thing? Well, I think the problem with things like this is you can’t take it as a blanket.
It Trend or statement. There’s nothing universally good about different kinds of work. I mean some people actually like commuting to work psychologically. They like that of having a transition between what they do in their home life and their work life that that psychologically for them they don’t mind a half hour drive everyday or 45 minute bus ride. They don’t mind it for some people other people hate it. Some people like working really casually with people where you these people your friends and becomes part of your social life other people hate that they want a stronger separation. So there’s
How many different ways of working and to say, any one, kind is good or bad, I think is flawed because we’re diverse people, we have diverse needs to First goals. And so, the right way, though, then is that the best kind of workplace the smartest? Kind of managers create workplaces where there’s lots of different choices employees have for how they want to work. And I’ve always looked at remote work, is that kind of thing that if you want to work remotely and you can still get your work done and your coworkers are happy with how available you are. Why should I stop you?
Ooh, there’s no reason. I should stop you. I just say, yeah, it’s great. You’re still doing a great job and your remote. Okay? That’s the way the attitude I think is the best attitude about all of these things. Remote work, commuting time off the thousand things that we tend to look as binaries and I’m like, no, you should you want to create a workplace that gives people flexibility as adult Professionals for what they think is the best way to get their work done. That seems like a philosophy that everybody should embrace and so that’s how I look at this to remote works. Not for everybody. It’s not for
Organizations, not for every personality, but a good boss. A good VP is should be thinking, how do I make the ways people are successful here? Flexible, that benefits me. And it might not cost me anything. So why not do it? Yeah, that’s really well said. I mean, there are absolutely industries that do not lend themselves well to remote work that were forced into that, right? And that’s unfortunate, and I don’t think that they can run as well, but just given that you and I, we work in technology. We work in design and a lot of
The folks who are listening to this also, do. I think it’s just very well said to to make it a point of this is an opportunity not a restriction. This is an option for people. Not. Yeah. So a blanket mandate sort of thing and let adults be adults. Yeah, it’s just ridiculous, though. The wheel of the technology were like, yeah, I can do my work on my phone, I can do email on my phone and that really means that you could do it anywhere. So it’s this hypocritical view of technology that a lot of Executives have that I want all these latest
Holes that let people work through screens but I want them ten feet away what? So I can watch the doing it. What what what it? What is that about? That can’t be about the power of the technology. They can’t be. It has to be some fear. You have or some irrational bias, you have towards the kind of work, you grew up with, and your inability, to adjust, to trusting your employees more to do their work, even though they’re not down the hallway. And so, that’s really to me, what the problem is. You see the
Backlash. Now it’s happened. The last month or so that there is CEOs, we’re calling out that remote work, need has to go away that it destroys office culture and these are terrible arguments, they’re really bad arguments and I think it’s really about fear. These are older people of an older generation and they’re afraid now of not having their own comfort and security blanket of seeing people 5 5 feet away and you show up at work at 9:00 a.m. and go home at five o’clock. They is an irrational fear they have and that’s hard. That’s the
Hard thing to get people out of. Yeah, absolutely. And I think I could not agree more of that, these are decisions made out of fear. I think most Decisions by most people are rooted in fear. Unfortunately, there’s like a lot of researches just sort of backs that up, but in this particular case, that’s absolutely the situation. You’re afraid you’re losing control, you’re afraid you’re losing Authority. You’re afraid, you’re losing influence that you have on people who were, you’re ultimately responsible for and the progress that you’re ultimately responsible for. But the interesting things that by it’s a reverse negative, right? The more you try to
To enforce that the less effective, it’s going to be. And in this case, don’t get me wrong. And so this is where the flavors of work, come in. Some people really like somebody sitting very clear expectations, very clear deadlines, very clear boundaries and some people really thrive in that, but especially a knowledge work which is where remote work does really well. Giving people autonomy to do that. How and where they need to tends to breed the best success. That’s my opinion. I have to think that a lot of the reason you wrote about the things that you did is because you probably feel the same way. Yeah, yeah. I do think that’s really.
Spirit of while everyone wants these Technologies but then the practicality of it people, often are afraid of how it’s going to mean. It’s the managers are really playing that blame the managers and the executives, they’re the ones who are the resistors. And at the same time, they were the ones who Proclaim to be innovators and want change and progress. So that’s who I that’s that’s who a lot of my IR goes towards. It’s fair. And I know there have been a lot of people who have jumped fence on that, there were a lot of people. I know some folks even personally who
Right at the start of this, when they were forced to, because that’s the right word, they were forced to work remotely. We had no other option because of the global Health situation, but I know a handful people, some personally that were completely against it, thought it was terrible. Love being in the office talked about the office culture thing. And now these people I’m talking about these same people are like I only want to work remotely now. Yeah, they realize the freedoms that it actually opened up in their lives and all whole lot of time and energy. You can place the other things other than the operational.
Some to be able to get to doing your work, right? Like those things are a lot of largely eliminated with remote work. Yeah, I think that’s probably true in part because the way this was done was forced and so even organizations that are generally well run couldn’t prep their staff to say hey we’re switching to remote work. Here are the five biggest frustrations. When you switch let us help you acclimate to changing your lifestyle so that you can adjust easier that didn’t happen. Everyone was forced to do it very quickly and
To be fair again. Like a lot of people, their home, life situation makes remote work. Really difficult, totally. It makes sense. I understand why they wouldn’t want its holy fine and what many remote first companies, that’s the term for organizations that are so invested in remote work. That even people go into the office, have to work as if they’re working remotely, which is a smart cultural value to have if you have remote workers, but many organizations that have that philosophy, they give money. They give a stipend to every employee that you can rent an office if you want. Okay, won’t pay for the whole thing.
But they’ll help subsidize you to have a place. If you want to that, you can go and drive to that your personal office that helps you deal. Maybe with your the limitations of your home space that you have children or you share a house with six people. So, there are ways to afford reducing the frictions to transitioning, but even that said, again, it’s totally a preference. I see why some people still at like it that’s totally fine and it’s really about choice. These Technologies are giving us choices and we should avail
Ourselves of them. Yeah, completely. I mean if somebody has a preference to not work remotely like that’s absolutely is valid your opinion or preference for that is absolutely valid, but the choice is the big thing. And I also think it’s really important to call a distinction between working from home in working remotely, yes, because those those are not all rice, the right? They can be mutually exclusive. Absolutely, and make a mistake working from home, can be a hell of a lot harder than just work than simply working remotely. Yeah, and we’re sloppy with these terms, definitely true. Yeah. And so that’s one thing that
Think to be language matters. Be really mindful how about how you talk about that, not you specifically, of course, but as we discuss these things moving forward because working remotely gives people a lot of freedom to say, well I want to see other parts of the world, but I don’t need to be like, completely turned off on vacation. I just want to be able to do that and not have to plan a vacation and not have to take time off in this. And that remote work allows you to do that very easily working from home. However, that’s a completely different ball of wax. Particularly again, as you pointed out in your, yeah.
Equation. Awesome. So I think we covered that. Well enough. I just wanted to get your impression of it because again, you wrote about this stuff a long time ago and wanted to hear your take on and all that everybody had to do it. Let’s talk a little bit more about your most recent book how design makes the world if somebody were to just come up to you and say, what’s that book about? I would ask them if their software that they use that they find frustrating or if maybe they get stuck in traffic and they really hate driving in traffic or if there,
Der is hard. Sometimes just doesn’t connect to the network and it takes some Odessa what frustrates them about their life? And I’m sure they would tell me some things. They may even go further. Maybe they think our Healthcare System is really messed up and it’s hard to deal with the getting appointments and getting it’s just hard and I’d say well the reason why those things are difficult is because of how they were designed. There are people who choose jobs at what it was and is to design those things. And they didn’t do a great job and wouldn’t the world be better?
ER if more people knew how to do a good job at designing things, that’s what the book is about, how to understand why bad design happens and the real reasons for it and also how to be better at understanding, what good design is and how to appreciate it more. And that’s the goal of the book is for anybody, do any prerequisites you don’t need to work in technology but a book that anybody can pick up and in a few hours get that sensibility and look at the world in a smarter better way. That’s what the book is. That’s at least the design goal. That’s
Very poignant end to that description, that’s the designed goal of the book, really? It’s a really hedged in there a little bit. But, okay, so that’s super fair in that description. One of the things I want to do. Now, I think this is not designed Twitter and us navel-gazing here, I think it’s very useful for the conversation. I want to ask, what is your definition of design then? Well, there’s many definitions of design. I’m fond of the ones that are verbs that it’s the process of looking at a something in the world that you want to improve.
Move or change and going about doing it. That’s what design is to me. So, I use that very broadly. I think engineering is a kind of design. Architecture is a kind of design rearranging your closet. It’s kind of designed to kind of verb process for trying to fix or improve or change something. I really appreciate that too. I think particularly in the context of the book because it’s not just written for ux people or designers or anybody who might consider themselves as someone who does design actively or even.
And this is a question I want to ask because I think a lot of people do design where it may not be defined as such was for people who professionally do design for example. And there is absolutely a whirlwind around this and there’s a lot of strong opinions and heated arguments that come up. And I’m sure that you have seen them and they absolutely happen on Twitter. They absolutely happen to conferences and stuff like that. I’m curious again because we come from the design world ux and product and such, what kind of reception has
As you know, the book had for those folks. Well, I think it said there’s so many folks who get involved in these things. I think it’s had such a good response from many of those people, but I thought you were going to ask me a different question, which was what do I think of those debates and arguments? And I guess I think that in writing this book, what is intended for a wide audience? I’m secretly writing also directly to designers because I think we are bad at explaining design, we’re bad at it and the
Submit to that or the data to support. That claim is how most of us, complain all the time about how our engineers and product managers and clients just don’t get it, they don’t get it, they don’t understand. And I feel like who’s fault is that’s our fault. It’s our fault. And so, I wrote the book in part is written for a wide audience, but I’m writing it winking. At designers to say, this is a better way to explain this. This is a better way to talk about processes is a better way.
To talk about heuristic. I’m keep trying to fuel our own Community to learn how to be better at telling the stories of design. Because I think that we’re bad at it and the debate, the endless debates that we tend to have about words and definitions. I think there’s something sad in it. On the positive side, it reflects our job that designers care about details labels for things, really matter to us. That’s our job. So any time in our own Community, a term comes up, we debate it because that’s what we do for a living.
Debate with co-workers, all the time about what to label things. So I think that’s just like a professional Instinct, but it’s bad in that it totally, it’s bike shedding, which is a term for when you obsess about small things that you think you have control over because you’re avoiding the harder bigger issues that you really should be thinking about. And so we can spend hours on Twitter, debating ux Versailles Avers UI because it’s easy and it feels satisfying it
to have that debate when in reality on our actual real project where we’re designing things for people, we have hard problems that aren’t as easy to have a clear opinion about that we’re avoiding and so much of our community is this prone in fighting for that reason is if we mistake the thing right next to us as being important because it’s convenient but really, we’re just working against ourselves. We’re making the general message for design about how we want the world to be better. We’re spending our energy fighting
With each other about trivia and I think it’s kind of immaturity I participated in it, so I’m not immune from it. But I think it’s we work against the greater goal that I think we all share really well. Said, I am glad that you went into it because that wasn’t the question I asked, but I was going to anyway. So I’m really glad that you took the liberty of going into that extremely well said. And I just have to call out once again of how this is such a pattern on this, on our show in particular, we’re talking to folks like you and folks in the industry
Each and every single time or at least almost every time. This theme comes up, where it is not about the tactics, it is not about the tools, it is not about the terms. We don’t have influence until we can help people understand more clearly, how we help them. And we’ve talked about this, like, Ad nauseam, but it’s still something that everybody needs to hear, where the people, who are consumers and benefit most of, from our work, don’t care about our methods and our process and our tools, and our
Whilst they care about the outcome, that’s a great quote. But somehow we make that the most important thing, my method, your nobody cares, nobody cares, what you really cares, it’s we care about the method because we somehow we can control it, we have feel we have more control over the method than we do the outcome on the product team. So we hold on to it. Like, it’s our Lifesaver and you’re totally right. I think that’s a great quote, and I don’t know how you fix it. I think we’re prone to it for a bunch of different reasons. Our whole
Profession is but calling that out and making reminding us that we’ve lost. Focus is perennially. Important is the bad habit that we have. So that’s really liked what you said there. I appreciate that. Yeah and it’s something that yourself and many other guests Echo and that’s why I say it’s just a recurring theme here where we talked about this a lot too. When you’re presenting design work to somebody or you’re presenting research findings to folks, yes you should be able to speak to your process or the methods you used. And how many people you spoke?
With and making sure it was good sample, size, and representative of your customers and all that stuff, all of that matters. But at the end of the day was just use sharing research insights, as an example, the people you’re sharing them with by and large want an answer to a question that’s what they want. If they then want to discuss that further and understand how you arrive there. Sure, be prepared for that. But don’t start with that and it’s also the same thing with design. Nobody cares about the grid system. Nobody cares about like
Like the color palette and selection of stuff, they want to know how this is going to help them achieve something else because at least a point I’ve been trying to make is it’s not their job to be experts at design. It’s ours. It’s not their job to understand those things, it’s ours. And then there’s also our job to help them understand how what we do in conjunction with a number of other. Things allows all of us to reach this larger goal. Yeah, I agree. Yeah, awesome. We’re prone to it though and in lots of theories about debates about why but definitely something that
Send design culture has been forever or probably always be there but the more the better we are being self aware of it and trying to be smarter about how we spend our energy. I think is really important. Yeah, I’m going to present well, getting back to the book about how design makes the world. I mean, what are we got? Understanding of what it’s all about. Totally haven’t understand, who it’s written for, what are the big takeaways? I mean, even maybe stuff that you’ve heard from folks, who’ve read it and said, this was really important to me? What?
Are the big takeaways folks are getting out of that? I think one is a few of them are early in the book and especially for experience designers, better ways to explain what they already know. Are the problems. And so, early in the book, I talk a lot about Builder culture versus design culture and build our culture is the default culture. If you are an engineer or if you are doing any kind of work where you’re the worker, you can be building a sandcastle if you are the Builder.
Or you could be a project manager, which was my job for a long time. You tend to focus on the building, what’s our schedule, what’s our budget, a what are the requirements? And then your work. You the measurable work is about doing the building. Checking off a requirement. We built this thing. We built this feature, we fix these 10 bugs. We met this schedule, Milestone, your building building. And that’s the predominant culture in most workplaces Builder culture. But there’s nothing in Builder culture, that’s really focused on quality.
Quality, not really, not quality. From the way that we talk about it, which is user experience quality. You can build a product that has meets every requirement is on time on budget, fixed every bug and no one can use it. No one can do anything with it. And that’s the world that we live in that we are brought into these cultures that are Builder cultures and we have this other view of what good is and what quality is but built into everyone’s jaw.
Roll and the way they’re promoted or reviewed for bonuses is based on building and we’re not training. Usually, the think of it that way, we’re trained that user experience. Is this deeply understood value, but it’s not. So we come in, and we’re basically trying to convert Builder cultures to be more designer cultures, which is really hard. You can’t really difficult and that explains the primary frustration. I know many user experience, folks have no one understands me, I’m working against the grain.
Yes, I’m on the team or I’m in the meaning, but I’m just, I’m on my way. I’m on the periphery. It’s not an accident. It’s by Design, giving a better language in to recognize. This is not unique to software. This is not unique to technology. This is just the state of the world. This is how work in most places. It’s done. Quality is low. We are people who want quality to be high, so of course, we’re gonna we’re gonna have problems. So that’s one. And the book has lots of Stories, the story that anchors. That one is about the Notre Dame Cathedral and the reason why the
I was so damaging their two years ago was because of this problem. They spent lots of money to build a fire detection system. They spent years on it big team, millions of dollars that had all the requirements, documentation best engineered fire detectors, but they didn’t think about quality, they didn’t think about who they were designing for. There’s some security guard was not paid very well. Who’s working a double shift, had some enormous monitor with all these different things on it. One of them was the fire alarm.
ERM and he couldn’t figure it out. Any one of us would look this instantly on day one and said, you have to think, who are we designing for, what should that user experience be like? But none of us were there. So the reason why that one of the greatest works of architecture in the history of Western Civilization has been irrevocability damaged, is because Builder culture, that’s the default. And so that should help reframe. What we’re doing? What we’re trying to solve for a lot of people that we shouldn’t feel so isolated and we’re
Called out everyone hates ux designers with some people feel. No, it’s not really about you. It’s about the culture of making stuff. And most stuff that’s made is not made of high-quality and we’re in there really to change that. That’s really interesting stuff. There’s a couple things out of there. I want to pull out and ask more on quick, comment that I have to because this comes up a lot. You’re right. It made everybody talks about this stuff and that build our culture. I’ve never actually heard it sort of captured in that way, which is interesting to me, but it reminds me of this
At least thought, or I don’t know if I’d call it so far as a theory I have. But I have this thought that a lot of this came from industrialization where the the idea was about efficiency and hitting those numbers and hitting those marks and saying, well, we’re not building an automobile, we’re building thousand automobiles in a day now. And it was so, wasn’t so much about this is the best automobile or this is really high quality that word quality is really important that you kept using, but they in the industrialization of in so that became sort of the de
Standard by how we measure success of anything. Yeah. I think you’re totally right. And I think the rejection of industrialization, the whole story of the luddites and the rejection of early skyscrapers in the late eighteen. Hundreds had a similar cultural reason for it that people were Craftsmen and Artisans that people knew how to make stuff with her hands. And the idea of now buying a shovel, or a dresser, or a piece of furniture that was made by a machine instead of being made by a person represented.
Not just loss of work. But his shift in quality that the handmade things were going to go away and the quality, they’re going to replace with is going to be lower. So you’re right. And you also are poking at the fact that management culture is born from industrialization that all were at least in America all the famous Business, Schools. Many of them began from Investments by people who were industrialists, who wanted to manage, hundreds of people at Banks and it railroads in a
Addict way, some management culture, is business, is Builder culture. How do I industrialize this? How do I Metro size it? How do I reproduce this again and again and it’s going to tend to optimize for certain kind of quality of repeatability scale but not gonna optimize for a war or other kinds of quality which are most of the ones that designers care about craftsmanship empathy really thinking through about the problem. They make something great. I know every person gets into
To design thinking I want to make something great. That’s not the business model for most businesses. They’re not making something great that you’re not paying you, you are you X lead, ux salary to make something great. They’re paying you to make something good enough for their market and that sounds terribly depressing. I don’t mean it to be that way. I do think you can make great things, I do. You think you can push companies and cultures to shift towards higher quality? But you have to know the playing field that you are on.
Do it and we’d still tend to pretend in this sort of delusional ways, immature idealistic way that magically someday, we’ll just change that. If we persist in being the person, we persist in being the person in the room who’s just always disappointed and always a little upset and always knowing is a better way that magically the room would just change to focus on us and that’s just no that’s not how it works. We have to be.
In a system that we’re in and learn how do you get Builders to start to care, more about quality? How do you persuade? How do you become influential? What a better stories, you can tell what’s better language to use and that’s what the book is about four designers of to re-educate. All of us about a way to talk about what we want in a way, that is a more historically accurate but also be more effective. These are better stories. We have better arguments, we can make that
We tend not to and as you said before because we tend to get lost in methods. We tend to convince people because why I got the method Jakob Nielsen’s heuristic said number. Seven said no we’re on the wrong planet that’s not the language for the planet that we’re on. Yeah, there’s so much in what you just said that. I want to pull out because it all actually weaves together because you’re talking about this. Not speaking the same language. A hundred percent true. Also a theme on the show and all of this sort of ends up in this place where square peg round hole. Right? And so that’s
Us. Why you feel like everybody? I mean, it’s probably extreme thing to say everybody hates her, but he’s annoyed by you. Ex are, they always think we’re the roadblock, or it’s always just going to add stuff. It’s because you just basically embracing this almost like anti-culture where reality is you should be figuring out how you can fit yourself into it. And there’s a lot of things that we’ve together there, that I just want to pull out and share with you to get your reaction on. Because I think we see a pretty consistent pattern in ux research product people just about every 18 months, they’re
Something new, they’re changing jobs. This is a pretty common. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, but I wonder how much of it is because that’s about the inflection point, at which they say, they don’t get it, they don’t get me. They don’t respect the work. I do etc. Etc. And I just wonder how much of that could change if as people are looking for a new opportunities, rather than trying to find a place that gets them, instead, choosing a place where they want to commit to trying to,
Add value to because it’s a place that they just want to add that quality to and commit to being able to tell those stories and help shift that place. Yeah, that’s a really good way to frame it. I like what you said before about embracing anti-culture to I think that is part of the design culture problem is the elitism that we need it to feel unified as a group but that puts us at odds with the cultures we are trying to influence. So I need to think about that term or that was good at answer your question. It is a natural desire to want to go.
Where were your already?
It’s already a good place for the work that you want to do. That’s normal natural. I mean, I get it. If I were to look for a regular job, I look for a place where a lot of my values were already there. That makes sense. But when we think about the future, this whole view of things has come such a long way. I’m older than you, I’m old, I’ve been around a long time and I when I graduate from college, there were no jobs for interaction design or you didn’t exist. It did not exist.
It’s because I had that training. There were no jobs. And so now that ux design and I know it has you, I’d whatever you want to call it all the 10 million flavors of it, there’s a lot of jobs and that’s great. That’s a big sign of progress. And so the question in your question about why people move that I think about now is who paved the way for these jobs in the cultures that exist, that all these people are looking for where these values are already there. Who paved the way for
Or that somebody did that. These Founders and Executives didn’t figure this out on their own. So somebody paved the way and then that makes me think. Okay, who’s going to pave the way now for the next generation of designers? That’s those are the real heroes we don’t talk about them much because they’re busy being Heroes. They don’t write books or not Consultants, they’re not on a lot of podcasts but they’re really the heroes of the field and I’ve been trying to find them
Look out for them because their stories should be the ones that we are learning about and emulating but our culture doesn’t look for them. Our culture looks for the examples of people who are the ante cultures people who rally against things, people who proclaim a lot. They’re not. And people who are the zealots we like that. They’re saying what we’re saying and they’re saying that wowed. Those are probably not good people to send into an organization that doesn’t get this stuff yet and have be effective zealotry, doesn’t work.
That way. So we have this miss, this confused idea of who the real heroes in our community are and as an underrepresented group of people that we should be learning more about how they gain that influence. How did they turn that team around? How they shift the Builder culture? I want those people to be more well known because that’s the those are the footsteps we want to pay for everybody else. Who follows? Yeah. Yeah I completely agree and to add to that because I agree with
And you said to add to that, there’s a lot of people doing the really hard work of making sure that we’re building products and services that are more diverse and Equitable. And just because that does not fit in with industrialization and sort of the way things get measured and how they’re built in deemed successful today as well. And there’s a lot of folks really pushing hard on that. That it’s not it’s not fun to talk about because it’s hard work for everybody. Yeah it is it is and that’s part of the it’s part of the challenge to
two is you called out a bunch of things I’ve called out some things here that are definitely true and they’re important but they’re not fun to hear. They’re there, they generate more work or more friction you have to face and Yuma nature as a what that like we want smooth sailing. We want it to be easy, the problems of equity and inclusion are really hard their systemic and they work against what a lot of organizations are built to do and design plays a role in that because we’re in some of these rooms and then design culture and a fractal way, design culture,
Your has some of the same problems even just within design community. So that’s all that’s true. But it’s these things are hard and they’re not easy to fix. This is not an easy method to apply to fix. That’s the thing to write is a, we had some folks on the show and it’s one of those things where you don’t do a workshop to figure that out. Yeah, that’s not the thing. That’s great design thinking type workshops in discovery type, workshops are awesome to employ but that’s not the thing that you apply to this Challenge. And then go well,
I’m all done. I still think that the progress is it’s really hard to see it. Someone could take a workshop on inclusion or on user experience, design methods, and hit the workshops. Great, they’re in a supportive environment where everybody, there agrees with the goals, but then for change to happen, someone has to be the only person in the room who speaks up or who says, something or gives feedback or puts their own reputation on the line. So one has to
Do that. And it’s a lonely thing to do and no one sees it and it’s but that’s the real progress though. That’s the real progress, which is the hardest to see the hardest to measure. And I want to figure out how do we make that more visible? How do we make that clear? That the consumption of a great book on ux design, or listen to a great podcast, that’s something you’ve learned something you’ve internalized it but it only has a value to the organization and eventually two people in the world to society when you’re in that position and you say
They are you do something and you take a risk, it’s scary. Progress is scary. Even the trivial kinds of progress, even just having an idea that questions the approach that your lead, developer is taking that’s scary. Then on the high stakes even higher you talking about who your organization hires or who gets promoted and so but that kind of Courage. I think we can we could rally around design courage. That’s a cool term. Like why don’t we use that more of us not just design knowledge, or courage would be courageous with
Skills that we have. So that’s something I’m trying to figure out if I can write about or collect these stories and try to help spread them. I think we need them. Yeah. Completely. And again, a number of folks we’ve had on the show to a lot of this kind of culminates into a statement that I take with me, which is progress does not happen without discomfort, it just doesn’t happen. You don’t get to stay doing the same things, you do with the same people, you do it with and saying the same things and expect that kind of progress and change to a
occur. You got to get uncomfortable and yep, there’s nobody here saying, that should be easy for you. There’s nobody saying you should have all the bravery in the world and feel great about that. You’ll be scared, you’ll feel lonely. But that’s how it gets done and that’s how it’s always gotten done. That’s, that’s really awesome. Here’s a question, I want to ask we’re talking about all of this and the things that we would sort of like to see change identified, some of the the history and I guess things that transpired is to got us where we were or where we are rather I’m curious.
You have to ask a question then how do you change it is holding up a mirror to it helpful. Well like what sort of things have we seen and heard or maybe even been a part of that actually helps shift the tide and I do you mean like within within an organization like within a business. So I think that that’s a fair scope. Especially given that we’re talking about, you know? So okay. That I think it’s very clear, I think the way it’s, there’s only two, there’s only two things. You either have power that you are a decision maker.
Yourself. And someone says, hey, what should our policy be on this? Or what method, are we going to use to build and design our products? You may have that power. You could be the director of engineering or maybe you’re the director of design and but everyone you work in a great place where they’re looking to you to help decide that you have power so you can just decide to do it a new way that’s uncommon for designers. Designers usually do not have much power. Then the other thing is the only
I think there is power then there’s influence. If you’re not the decision maker then you have access to who the decision maker is and you can persuade them, you can convince them, you can bribe them, you can work your way into being in their golf Circle so you’re around them more often and can build up a friendship with them. You can do things to earn trust with them so that when you push them on a thing or ask for a favor that they’ll be they’ll feel obligated. So
Either power influence. That’s the only way that umin systems work. That’s true, anthropologically tribes, and families, power and influence. So organizations, businesses power and influence. And that’s the story. It’s usually the story that we don’t want to hear because that’s not intellectual. It’s not about facts. It’s not so much about ideas and creativity. It’s not about artifacts, it’s about relationships and most of us in the design world didn’t get into design because we wanted
More relationships. That was not, that was, if we want more relationships, we would have become marketers or project managers where your job is, all the all that context. So we have a liability, I think in our Tendencies around this we have void power and influence. That’s not really where our intellectual horsepower is and our drive is so that’s I spent a lot of time talking about that because I feel like as a p.m. that was my job. I’m like I know why designers get ignored. I know exactly.
Lee. Why not always? But sometimes because someone had to show up in the meeting and argue, is that fair? No. Could it have been more diplomatic? Sure, but the team were on the project run. Here we are, someone has to argue. So I wanted to put up a fight, someone has to call in favors. Someone has to make a call after the meeting and talk to someone and convince them of something. Someone has to do it. And if it doesn’t get done, then power and influence says that the people who do or can will tend to
Get what they want and that’s the story. There’s a power and influence pretty well. Succinctly said awesome. So listen, one of the things that I do with every single episode is I ask our guest. If I got temporary Amnesia, completely forgot everything we talked about but so we had to come up to you and say, well, Scott, what was that podcast all about? Yeah. How would you summarize it for them? I would say that you need to send me a check for $10,000 every month and that you’ll do my laundry.
Three and that you I think what I would say is that design is what designers want, what many our listeners want, while you have the career you want, is that you have this ability? It’s uncommon to think about ideas, and develop ideas for things and that’s great. It’s important, the world needs you. However, we should know as designers that the systems and organizations that make things have goals that aren’t directly in line with ours.
That there’s a culture I call building culture. That’s the dominant one that’s getting things done. Checking off requirements, being on time. And what we want the value, we have the value. They we believe they should adopt. We’re going to have to persuade them and convince them and learn to speak their language and get better at talking about what we do telling our stories explaining why our approach is better and doing that in a well-designed way. Which means it’s only valuable if they
Stand it, if you apply our own principles to our own work and how we communicate. And if we do that we will get a lot more of what we want. Then we currently do. Excellent. I love it. Perfect summary of I think just about every single thing we talked about, I love it. So I am certain that I could cover many more topics with you and spend a lot more time, but I gotta be respectful of yours and we are coming to the end of ours. So what I want to ask you is there anything that you want to share with folks that we
Can get a chance to cover today. No, I think this is great. I think this stuff is important. I think it cuts it really the heart of why we do what we do and that’s why I wrote the book. I think the book is the best encapsulation I could make as a writer knowing about the stuff for a long time of the core things that we need to re re educate ourselves about and better stories and ways to talk about what we do. So more people will not only understand it, but I think it is what everybody wants. Everybody wants better designed things.
It is really what they want, your engineer and your boss, who frustrate you, they want better design things, they don’t know how to articulate it. They may be misguided about it, but they want to make better things to for their customers. And so, the opportunity I think is really great. We just have to apply a lot of what we preach to ourselves. Yeah. And before we just closed it out, I want to take the opportunity to add to that. That’s a really important call out that most of these people we work with are not trying to do bad work. Nobody wakes up in the morning and goes
I’m really looking forward to ruining what one of our customers days in building something that’s crap, right? Like you just said, Engineers, they want to build great stuff. Cool stuff. That’s why they got into this to people in business. They generally want to do a really good job. There’s very few intentionally malicious people. You will find them, I have, but there are fewer and farther between. They actually want to do a good job. The more we can communicate, how we help do that. And that were actually fighting for the same thing. I agree. The more success will be awesome. Well Scott, I
I just have to say thank you again for taking the time. I really enjoyed the conversation. Really appreciate you coming on and being a guest on our show. Thanks for having me. It was fun to talk to you. It’s good. All right, awesome. All right everybody. We will see you next time. This podcast is brought to you by Aurelius, the research and insights tool that helps you analyze search and share all your research in one place. So you can go from data to insights to action faster and easier. Check out our Alias for yourself with a 30 day trial by going to Aurelius lab.com. That’s a you
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