Leading By Design

In my career, I’ve spent a lot of time learning from great design leaders. The best stand out as creative, thoughtful listeners, able to persuade with grace and speak hard truths, while uniting the team around a focused vision.

Through my involvement in Cooper U’s Design Leadership course, I’ve learned techniques to repeat the success of these leaders. Recently, I had the privilege of co-teaching with two of Cooper’s design leaders, Jenea Hayes and course creator Kendra Shimmell. In the class, these bright ladies presented tools that help the rest of us become leaders who can sell a vision, unite a team, and achieve organizational consent. The following overview captures a small slice of the course content from general principles to practical applications that are simple yet powerfully effective ideas for all of us.

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From Superman to the Avengers: Rethinking Bruce Mau Design

[Excerpt from a UX Magazine article written by Teresa Brazen. Full article here.]

Everyone loves a hero. But what happens to

organizations when their heroic leaders retire?

Four years ago, Bruce Mau Design (BMD) faced this dilemma. The company’s infamous founder, Bruce Mau, left so that he could create a platform to address bigger global issues that were meaningful to him called the Massive Change Network. Those who remained at BMD and its new President and CEO, Hunter Tura, were presented with an interesting opportunity: reinvention. Curious about the culture of BMD today, I interviewed Tura in his Toronto office. Here are some takeaways for teams and organizations from their evolution.

Rethink Your Mental Model

Bruce Mau Design was founded upon what Tura describes as the “Superman model,” which meant the founder was seen as the “creative auteur” of the company. Mau’s exit gave the BMD team an opportunity to rethink how they positioned themselves, what services they wanted to offer, and how they wanted to work together. Read the rest of the article here.

What’s culture got to do with it?

In short, everything.

Does your work culture make it challenging for your team or organization to do great work? Well this could be the year you make it better. At Fluxible 2013, our very own Teresa Brazen, Design Education Strategist, delivered a 30 minute talk, Make Culture, Not War: The Secret of Great Teams and Organizations, about the role and impact of culture on organizations. Of particular interest to the UX crowd, she explained how designers are uniquely positioned to influence culture by employing familiar tools from our bag of tricks. Enjoy (and share!) the video below!

If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty, you (and perhaps a few folks from your team/organization) might want to check out our newly launched 1-day Designing Culture Master Class. This training aims to help people intentionally approach their team or organizational culture – through a cultural assessment, visioning and goal-setting exercises, and development of a tactical plan to improve their culture (some of the topics Teresa hits on in her talk below). Teresa and Susan Dybbs, Managing Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, will be teaching the course in our San Francisco offices on Friday, January 31st.

We are also offering Designing Culture in-house training for organizations that would benefit from having a larger group (management, teams, etc) go through this process together. Contact us at cooperu@cooper.com for details.

Video: Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations

Television is dead. Or is it?

How the Internet, devices, and a new generation of viewers are redefining the “boob tube” of the future

Announcing the next Cooper Parlor: The Future of TV

When: Thursday, October 24th (Networking at 6, event starts at 6:30)
Moderated by: Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media
Where: Cooper’s Studio, 85 2nd Street, 8th Floor, San Francisco
Cost: $10
Tickets

Once, television was simple. Families gathered religiously around a glowing box to watch the latest episode of “I love Lucy”. Fast-forward to today: the Internet enables a multitude of new viewing devices, and wildly different viewing habits have turned “television” on its head. In this Cooper Parlor, Richard Bullwinkle, Head of US Television Innovation at Samsung and Jeremy Toeman, CEO of the startup Dijit Media will share some curious trends in media consumption, technological advances, and the evolution of show content and format. Then, they’ll lead a brainstorming session to rethink the “television of the future” together.

Here are just a few curious factoids we’ll explore:

  • What is the #1 device for watching Netflix? The iPad? A laptop? It turns out it’s the Sony Playstation 3. Why do viewers flock to this device rather than the connected TV or an iPad?
  • Over 90% of all TV viewers use a second screen while watching TV. How might this impact the way we design the television experience and programming?
  • Can you guess why 70% of connected TVs in the US actually get connected to the internet, but only 30% do in Europe?

Join us as we discuss where TV is headed, and generate new ideas for what television can be!

What is the Cooper Parlor?

The Cooper Parlor is a gathering of designers and design-minded people to exchange ideas around a specific topic. We aim to cultivate conversation that instigates, surprises, entertains, and most importantly, broadens our community’s collective knowledge and perspective about the potential for design

Raising Funds and Raising the Bar: Hats Off to Practice Fusion

When Practice Fusion recently announced it’s spectacular $70M financing round, cheers went up not only throughout the healthcare sector, where the company is one of the fastest growing health tech pioneers, but also within the halls of Cooper, where the design and prototype for Practice Fusion’s 2013 IxDA award-winning ipad app was born.

Stefan Klocek, former Cooperista and now Practice Fusion’s Senior Director of Design, had a critical role in the development of that iPad application while at Cooper, and now that he has joined Practice Fusion, he took a moment to get on the phone with us and share his unique inside perspective on the impact design can have on businesses.

“It’s not been hard to trace how Cooper’s original design for Practice Fusion’s mobile platform became a seminal turning point in how our business makes products today,” Klocek said, after we exchanged verbal high-fives. “Following the Cooper engagement I’ve been able to see firsthand how the organization shifted its perspective from design being something added on later, to actually driving decisions around branding and product development.”

And Practice Fusion’s investment in design is growing. “Our design team went from 5 to 17 people in six months,”Klocek added. “The original mobile app project that Practice Fusion worked on with Cooper really demonstrated to everyone here the value of design, ultimately driving decisions to rebrand our website and redesign our flagship product.”

To which we say, huzzah!

Big congratulations to Practice Fusion for continuing to raise the bar and the standard of data management for healthcare.

Designing Culture: New Ways to Think About Work

How might we…

  • invest in relational chemistry?
  • encourage personal leadership?
  • integrate new team members?
  • gain alignment around vision?

These are just a few of the questions we explored in our last Cooper Parlor, Designing Culture. The evening was focused on ways to be intentional about creating a creative culture and work environment. Attendees from design, digital technology, city government, engineering firms, art museums and more shared their desires, challenges, and experiences in shaping the culture of their workplaces.

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UX Boot Camp with Marketplace Money

Old School Radio Meets the Digital Age

Take a look inside Cooper’s June, 2013 UX Boot Camp with American Public Media’s Marketplace Money radio show, where students explored the next horizon of audio programming—a paradigm shift from broadcast to conversation-based platforms.

The Challenge
Students rolled up their sleeves to help the show respond to the trend away from traditional radio by finding the right mix of alternative distribution platforms. Marketplace Money came equally ready to take a radical departure from their current format in order to create a new model that redefines the roles of host, show, and audience in the digital age. To reach this goal, students focused on designing solutions that addressed three big challenges:

  1. Engage a new, younger audience that is tech savvy, and provide easy access to content via new platforms, such as podcasts, satellite radio shows, and the Internet.
  2. Inspire audience participation and contribution. Facilitate conversations and inspire people to share their personal stories so that listeners can learn from each other.
  3. Design ways for the host to carry an influential brand or style that extends beyond the limits of the show and engage with the audience around personal finance, connecting with listeners in ways that are likeable, useful, and trustworthy, making the topic of personal finance cool, fun and approachable.

At the end of the four-day Boot Camp, student teams presented final pitches to Marketplace Money, and a panel of experienced Cooper designers offered feedback on their ideas and presentations.In the following excerpts from each day, you can test your own sensory preferences for receiving content as you see, hear and read how design ideas evolved at the Boot Camp, inspiring new relationships between people and radio.

Marketplace Money Class

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Austin in SXSW – The Digital Master (3 of 3)

Last week we spoke about the impending changes in our move from automated to intelligent services. Less UI and more AI might be a killer combination, bringing ease and delight to the complexities of the modern world. This week we’ll see how this type of continuous disruption is more killer than just an app.

The digital master of process

From Lean UX to continuous integration, our processes for generating new ideas are increasingly driven by analytics and usage stats. What allows us to navigate the murky waters of uncertain custom resonance is the intangible skill of vision making; visions that exist only in pixels. Rather than capturing value through physical objects, we’re gaining premium prices for services, and, increasingly, experiences. But there’s also a dark-side to the disruption spurred by the collusion of design and technology.

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The tea, leadership, loyalty axis

About six months ago, I switched from coffee to tea because I wanted to reduce the influence of caffeine in my life. After a somewhat painful adjustment period, I now look forward to my morning tea ritual as much as I once did my morning cup o’ Joe – and I feel better. Until yesterday morning, though, I hadn’t given much thought to the impact of how I was drinking my tea.

It started with a quote from a Fast Company article about leadership (Buddha Had It Right: Relax the Mind and Productivity Will Follow) that inspired me enough to end up on this index card:


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