Posts about Leadership


Reflection: The Pause That Gives Insight, Part One

Diagram hypnosis and analysis paralysis

Hannah du Plessis and Marc Rettig, Fit Associates


“Always make room for the unexpected in yourself.”

- Steve Martin


The fear of the blank whiteboard

We’re standing in a project room. Every inch of wall is covered with photographs from the field. Fat black arrows point to portrayals of key moments. Quotes on sticky notes form colorful clusters. Diagrams of space, ritual, and process complement the persona-faces looking back at us from the wall. And now it’s idea time. After the intensity of research and analysis comes the challenge of conceiving the right thing. How do we create concepts that are both good for business and responsible to the lives we have glimpsed through all this data?

We have all experienced that moment when the true complexity of life challenges the powers of our imagination. We are asked to translate complexity into concepts, but the complexity can be overwhelming and its patterns elusive. Together we turn to a blank whiteboard, we crack open a fresh pad of Post-Its, and feel the pressure to find The Answer.

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We have all experienced that moment when the true complexity of life challenges the powers of our imagination. We are asked to translate complexity into concepts, but the complexity can be overwhelming and its patterns elusive. Together we turn to a blank whiteboard, we crack open a fresh pad of Post-Its, and feel the pressure to find The Answer.

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12 Tips from Cooper Managing Director & Drummer Jon Mysel

If you haven’t met him, Jon is a charming man. Watch this video where he offers advice to new designers.

Way back in September 2015, Cooper expanded to New York. Through this expansion, we gained some pretty excellent colleagues. One of these colleagues is Managing Director, New York, Jon Mysel. Jon is the senior-most designer at Cooper’s New York office, and a stand up guy. On top of being an interaction design guru, he’s a proud father, a patent holder, a talented drummer (his band performed at CBGB), and lived in Australia for many years. I had the great opportunity to interview Jon a few months ago and learned much from our conversation.

Here are 12 sage insights from our friend Jon:

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Way back in September 2015, Cooper expanded to New York. Through this expansion, we gained some pretty excellent colleagues. Here are 12 sage insights from our friend Jon. 

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4 Days of Change

By Rob Vanasco, @nocuberequired

“Please sign my petition asking for M&M’s to be made without artificial dyes.” 

That was the plea of a mom of two kids. In 2014, realizing the petroleum-based dyes in her son’s M&M’s were causing adverse effects to his behavior, Renee Shutters partnered with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to help her son and other parents dealing with similar situations. She wanted to rally people to ask the makers of M&M’s to stop using harmful dyes.

It seemed like a difficult task, but Renee found Change.org, which enables people to start a petition around virtually any topic and share it via social media. Renee received 217,123 electronic signatures in support of her cause over two years. In this forum, people shared their stories and discussed how removing dyes helped their kids.

In February of 2016, M&M’s announced they would no longer use toxic dyes in the production of M&M’s. Renee’s petition was a confirmed victory. If you visit Change.org, you will see a long list of similar victories. People are making a difference in their communities, and around the world, by using this technology.  

But, what if you want to do more?

What if you want to go beyond the limits of a petition and rally people around a cause? 

What if you want to organize people within a community?

How do you engage and motivate that group?

How do you provide that group with a delightful experience while giving them the tools they need to accomplish their mission?

These are the questions that leaders at Change.org asked the participants of UX Boot Camp to address.

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Cooper’s UX Boot Camp allows participants to learn the art and science of user experience design, and to put it immediately into practice with a real-life client. So when my company encouraged me to consider professional development opportunities, I researched all the options out there. I reviewed all the workshops offered by Cooper U, and UX Boot Camp was exactly what I was looking for. 

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15 years, 5 months and 8 days

After many inspiring years, I am leaving Cooper. In this blogpost, I will reflect on my time at Cooper, and the powerful and formative experiences I've had here.

Before I came to Cooper (for the second time)*, my all-time longest stay at a job was 18 months. When I ran out of steam or patience, I found a new job, a new group of mentors, a new set of problems. My wandering stopped when I came to Cooper in April 2000. The work never got old. Mentors surrounded me. Clients with really complicated problems trusted me, and inspired me to do great work. New teammates arrived with exotic backgrounds, and injected divergent ideas into my process.

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After many inspiring years, I am leaving Cooper. In this blogpost, I reflect on my time at Cooper, and the powerful and formative experiences I've had here. 

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Nonprofit Boards Need UX Designers

This is my attempt to play matchmaker. Nonprofit Boards, I'd like you to introduce you to the user experience (UX) industry.

I came to Cooper, a leading UX design consultancy, after ten-plus years working in the philanthropy sector. Because of my background in fundraising, and interest in social justice, I have served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Hispanic Health Council, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and currently Kristi Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation. I’ve also managed alumni association boards of directors at top universities, including UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and The George Washington University.

When there are vacancies, boards often default to recruiting individuals from a handful of professions: lawyers, fundraisers, marketers, accounting and finance types, and philanthropists. These are important backgrounds to have on a nonprofit board. However, one critically important perspective is missing from most boards: design professionals. 

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When there are vacancies, nonprofit boards often default to recruiting individuals from a handful of professions: lawyers, fundraisers, marketers, accounting and finance types, and philanthropists. These are important backgrounds to have on a nonprofit board. However, one critically important perspective is missing from most boards: design professionals. 

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The Roles Trilogy

Modern product teams consist of three key groups working together—Design, Development, and Product Management. It’s surprising how many companies struggle, simply because they don’t recognize the need for all three to work on equal footing but with clear lines of responsibility. Putting expectations in place makes all three groups more effective, allows each to do the job they’re best at, and ultimately results in a thoughtful, well-constructed, kick-ass product. 

So let me tell you about your job.

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Modern product teams consist of three groups working together: Design, Development, and Product Management. Let me tell you how to do your job.

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Six (6!) new ways to push your practice

You asked. We answered. Bringing you SIX new workshops and courses in customer experience, brand strategy, leadership, product definition and design, research, ideation, personas and more—each chock full of skills for taking your professional game to the next level (and maybe even the level above that). Stay current, get smarter, make an impact, effect the bottom line, and teach your team a thing or two (or ten) about your new-found knowledge. We've saved you a seat.

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If Culture Is Character, What Are Your Organization’s Distinguishing Marks?

Getting to know the culture of Beezwax -- a custom web, mobile and  database solutions firm

 

Interview with Julian Nadel, President and Founder

At Cooper, we’re interested in how design tools and methods can be used to shape inspired work cultures. In that vein, this blog post is the first in a series of exploratory interviews to learn tips and tricks from other companies. If you, your team or organization would benefit from a day away from the office to explore how to evolve your work culture, join us for our next Designing Culture workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 10 in San Francisco. Or, we can bring the workshop to your turf. For ongoing work culture inspiration, also check out our #DesigningCulture topics page on the Cooper Journal.

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Getting to know the culture of Beezwax -- a custom web, mobile and database solutions firm Interview with Julian Nadel, President and FounderAt Cooper, we’re interested in how design tools and methods can be used to shape inspired work cultures. In that vein, this blog post is the first in a series of exploratory interviews to learn tips and tricks [...]

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From Vision to Value: Techniques for Demonstrating the Benefits of Design

A guest post by Cooper U alumni Grant Baker.

At every conference session I’ve gone to, someone has asked some variant of “this all sounds great, but how do I sell it to my company?” This is especially true when talking about processes seen as business cost centers, like design. To the initiated, it makes no sense why anyone would try to build a product any other way. Yet our business partners look on these same strategies with a cold eye, blinded to anything but added expense. Add this to frustrations such as impending deadlines and frivolous demands, and it’s no wonder many interaction designers have great theories, but no way to put them into practice.

In March, Cooper U hosted their Design Leadership workshop, which teaches the skills needed to meet these problems head on.

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A guest post by Cooper U alumni Grant Baker.At every conference session I’ve gone to, someone has asked some variant of “this all sounds great, but how do I sell it to my company?” This is especially true when talking about processes seen as business cost centers, like design. To the initiated, it makes no sense why anyone would try [...]

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Leading By Design

Design Leadership

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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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 [...]

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