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The Design Practice37:25 with Verne Ho
As start-ups and studios grow into mature organizations, there’s a need to evolve design from something that is simply done, to something that is practiced. The difference is subtle but critical: doing design is a short-term focused activity, but having a design practice focuses on building long-term sustainable success. This talk will focus on helping design teams build resilient practices of their own and discuss how the health of their practice inevitably maps back to the health of their design culture.
[MUSIC] 0:00 I think most of you have seen my first light already from before. 0:07 So let's jump right into it. 0:10 Here we go. 0:12 Building teams is hard and that's even ignoring all the complexities and 0:14 the challenges that come with recruiting and 0:19 finding the right people to get onto your team, even ignoring all of that stuff. 0:22 Just taking a group of talented individuals and forming a high performing, 0:27 happy, healthy, successful team is no trivial task and 0:33 it's kind of weird when you think about it. 0:37 Because on the one hand, people inherently want to do great work. 0:40 And on the other hand, companies need great work to be done. 0:46 And yet, finding that perfect intersection between 0:51 the two isn't ever as easy as we would like it to be. 0:55 And of course, you factor in a high paced environment where a team scaling very 1:00 quickly and suddenly, it gets even more complicated. 1:04 The good news is it doesn't have to be. 1:09 There are ways to think about this problem. 1:12 I mean, part of it will always be a little bit difficult, but there are ways that we 1:15 can think about how we build our teams that makes it very achievable and 1:20 that's what I wanna talk a little bit about today. 1:24 Before we dive too deep into that, let me tell you a little bit more about myself. 1:27 So like it was mentioned, my name is Vern. 1:31 Today, I'm the Director of Design at a company called Shopify. 1:35 If you're not familiar with what Shopify does, 1:39 essentially we build a software that helps over 175,000 merchants 1:42 worldwide sell products online, in store and many other places in between. 1:47 Our three largest offices are situated in Ottawa, 1:53 Montreal and where I'm from, Toronto. 1:57 These are all in Canada and 2:01 our US discipline just recently crossed the 100 person threshold and 2:03 that's spread out across design front-end development, research and 2:08 content with the design team making up about half of that on its own. 2:13 So needless to say that idea of a fast paced environment where things are growing 2:18 quickly is something that I have the luxury of addressing on a daily basis. 2:22 Now prior to Shopify, I co-founded and ran a design studio called Jack Cooper. 2:28 We were also based out of Toronto and over the 4.5 years that we were in service, 2:33 we helped our clients build digital products. 2:39 Now over that period time, we also grew our team from just two people, myself and 2:43 my co-founder to a team of 25 designers, front-end developers and product managers. 2:48 Now about a little over two years ago, 2:54 August 2013 or so, Shopify actually approached our team and 2:56 ended up acquiring all of us and that's how we became Shopify Toronto. 2:59 But going back to the beginning. 3:06 When it was just the two of us, I used do all the design and development work. 3:08 That's how we worked for the for the first little bit of Jet Cooper until we 3:12 realized, of course, this wasn't a very sustainable model for us. 3:15 So we began to hire, we began to build out our team. 3:19 And as we did that, I slowly transitioned my role into more of a creative director 3:22 role where I oversaw all the work that we were doing. 3:26 And of course, the growth of our team. 3:30 Similarly, at Shopify today, 3:33 I oversee all the design work that we do out of the Toronto office. 3:35 But almost more importantly, I look after the definition and 3:40 the growth of something that I call our design practice and 3:44 I'm gonna get into that a little bit more in a second. 3:47 But what I'm really getting at is that in reflection of where my career has been so 3:50 far, I've realized that I've now spent more time and energy on building and 3:55 growing teams rather than even being hands-on designing things. 4:00 And so, it's really from that experience and 4:04 that perspective that I want to share some insights and 4:06 some lessons with you today on how I think about building great teams. 4:09 Now I also wanna underline at this point that I understand not everybody in this 4:15 room is in a position where they're actually leading a team, but 4:19 I also wanna stress that that doesn't matter. 4:22 The ideas that I'm talking about today are ideas that anybody can take back to 4:25 the world and apply. 4:29 All you have to do is care. 4:31 You just have to care about the environment around you, care about more 4:32 than just the role and the things that you're doing on a day-to-day basis. 4:35 It just needs an evangelist, somebody that can take it to somebody who can 4:38 make these things happen or somebody that can make it happen themselves. 4:41 So first, a quick little story. 4:47 In the first couple years at Jack Cooper. 4:52 We were still very much a small team. 4:56 This photo is hilarious, 4:59 because we all happen to be wearing the exact same color for some reason. 5:00 But aside from doing that, 5:04 we could pretty much at that time show up every day and just wing it. 5:06 As in we could come in in the morning, gather round, 5:11 talk about what needed to be done and then we'd go and do it. 5:15 It was pretty much that simple. 5:19 Of course, as we began to scale and grow a little bit larger, 5:22 things start to break down just a little bit. 5:25 Suddenly our morning regroups were longer than they ever were before and 5:28 was in the most productive use of our time anymore. 5:33 It was harder than ever to ensure that our work with consistent across the board. 5:36 Now that there were so many extra pairs of hands working on things. 5:40 And in general, 5:45 it was just harder to keep everybody on the same page at any given point. 5:45 So it was at this point that we really learned our first important lesson and 5:52 that is that when you're small, you can just wing it. 5:55 You don't have to over engineer all of this stuff, this process and structure, 6:02 and everything. 6:06 You need to leverage the fact that there is this natural creative chaos and 6:08 the fact that you can be a small and scrappy team and ship things quickly, but 6:12 as you grow past a certain size and for us, it was about ten people. 6:17 Maybe it's less for you guys or more. 6:21 But whatever it is when you pass a certain threshold of size, 6:24 you need to start modeling things. 6:27 You can start standardizing some of these best practices that you have. 6:30 In its own spirit of ensuring that your team can continue to be successful, 6:35 but that success is also sustainable over a long period of time. 6:40 So this idea of a long term sustainable success is sort of the undercurrent of 6:44 everything that I'm talking about today. 6:48 It's where the design practice really comes in. 6:53 And if you think about it, the exercise of just doing 6:57 design is somewhat of a short term focus activity. 7:01 It's solving a singular problem, taking it from beginning to end. 7:05 That's doing design, but the idea of practicing design suggest 7:09 an approach that is focused more on long-term sustainable success. 7:15 And so my goal today with the things that I'm gonna share is to actually shift our 7:20 mindset from a group of people that are simply doing design to a group of 7:25 people that can practice design. 7:29 So, a good design practice has a couple of key characteristics. 7:36 Firstly, a good design practice is dependable. 7:42 Great work shouldn't be a lottery. 7:47 So good design practice arms your team to produce consistent, 7:49 repeatable results regardless of what problems they're facing. 7:54 This doesn't mean that they're going to solve the problems in the exact same way 7:59 every single time, but a good design practice is gonna give you the faith and 8:04 confidence that great quality work is gonna come out on the other end. 8:08 A good design practice is also autonomous. 8:12 Especially in a time of growth, you can't afford to have bottlenecks, 8:17 gatekeepers, people that are just looming over other people's shoulders and 8:21 reviewing every piece of work that's going out the door. 8:25 A good design practice is going to enable the team to drive the ship forward on 8:29 their own. 8:33 And I'm gonna say this a couple more times today, but 8:37 a good design practice needs to be intentional. 8:40 Don't ever allow yourself to do things arbitrarily, 8:43 acknowledge what you're doing. 8:48 Observe it closely. 8:51 Document it, if you will, but 8:53 be intentional about everything that's happening with your team. 8:56 The more you know about what you're doing and why you're doing them 9:01 is the more empowered you're gonna be to affect change to that. 9:05 So be intentional. 9:09 Of course, a good design practice is also going to be scalable, 9:12 whether you hire 1, 5, 10, 50 people. 9:16 A good and robust design practice is going to suggest how those people integrate into 9:19 your day to day operations. 9:24 And finally, a good design practice is also transparent. 9:28 Not only to those who work within it, the design team, the rest of the UX 9:32 discipline, but also to all those who work around it and depend on it. 9:36 Product, engineering, marketing, sales, data. 9:42 A good design practice that is transparent ensures that everybody can work 9:47 alongside the design process, 9:52 can participate with the design practice rather than work against it. 9:54 So I'm sure at this point you're now asking. 9:58 Okay, we got it. 10:02 But what is a design practice exactly? 10:04 So for me, I break it down to three simple components. 10:08 They're your tools, your production model, and your routines. 10:10 Now chances are most of you are already doing things with your team 10:18 that fit into one of these or all of these components. 10:23 But I would also bet that not many people 10:28 are necessarily thinking about it in this kind of a framework. 10:31 That is, you're not explicitly defining it. 10:36 And giving it shape in this particular manner. 10:39 And I want to encourage you to do that starting today, 10:43 because by doing that you now have something tangible that you can point to. 10:46 Something you can pass on to the rest of the people on your team and speak to. 10:50 Something you can put under the microscope and refine and 10:53 tweak and iterate on it over time to make your team better. 10:57 So by giving definition to your design practice, what you're really doing is 11:03 putting yourself in control, in control to make the team better. 11:07 So let's talk about each of these three components. 11:14 Starting with tools. 11:17 Tools are often thought of as a trivial set Of decisions. 11:20 Right? 11:25 Product, this product has X, Y, Z features, we need X, Y, Z features. 11:26 Therefore, the team's gonna use it, 11:30 they're gonna love it, it's gonna be great. 11:31 But if you've ever been in a position where you've needed to choose a suite 11:34 of tools and services for a growing team. 11:38 You know that this isn't how it works. 11:40 And that's mostly because humans are somewhat irrational and 11:44 emotional beings sometimes. 11:47 We're not always perfectly logical. 11:50 We have preferences. 11:53 We have biases. 11:54 Especially when it comes to the tools that we use to do the work that we do. 11:55 And because every team is made up of a different group of people. 12:01 There really isn't such thing as a standard suite of services and 12:03 tools that works for every single team. 12:07 But more important than that, tools are no trivial matter. 12:11 And this is because they fundamentally shape and 12:16 govern the way that our teams operate and behave. 12:19 The way that we communicate, the way we organize, the way we collaborate with each 12:24 other all of this is driven by the tools that we use. 12:29 Think about it, think of all the tools that you use on it 12:36 on a daily basis at work whether it's hardware or software. 12:38 Now imagine yourself using a whole different set of tools. 12:42 Wouldn't that change the way that you worked? 12:45 Wouldn't that changed the way that your team works? 12:47 Even the difference between using Sketch or Photoshop changes your workflows enough 12:51 to really have to think twice about which one makes most sense for your team. 12:55 So tools are incredibly important and they're not to be taken lightly. 13:02 Whatever suite of tools you choose for your team be intentional about them. 13:07 Think deeply about them. 13:11 And don't just shrug it off and say yeah that's okay we will just use these tools 13:13 they seem fine, think about them. 13:17 Your production model. 13:23 Your production model is essentially my fancy term to describe all the different 13:25 things that you do to solve the problems in the trenches of your projects. 13:31 So all the different approaches you have to solve problems. 13:37 As you can imagine a production model 13:41 will include many different things will have many different facets to it. 13:44 And these details range from really big macro details to really small 13:49 nuanced things. 13:52 Let me give you a couple of examples. 13:53 So a macro characteristic of Shopify's production model, for 13:55 example, is the way that we organize our teams. 13:59 So our teams are cross-disciplinary. 14:03 Every one of our product teams is made up of people from different disciplines. 14:06 Designers, front end developers, engineers, product, et cetera. 14:08 And each of these product teams are assigned to a specific business 14:13 area with specific business objectives. 14:15 So that's the way that we organize shop files as a whole. 14:18 More than that, we also organize our office by these products teams. 14:22 So we don't have all the designers sitting in one corner and 14:27 all the engineers sitting in another corner. 14:30 Instead, we seat them by their product teams. 14:32 And that's because we believe in optimizing for 14:35 the day-to-day mobility of those product teams. 14:38 And so, we think it's really important that designers sit next to front-end 14:42 developers, next to engineers, next to researchers, and product managers, so 14:45 on and so forth. 14:48 So they can poke at each other's screens or draw sketches between themselves. 14:50 Or just have those ongoing and continuous or 14:55 serendipitous conversations that happen throughout today. 14:57 Of course your production model may also include some of the more nuanced 15:04 bits of how you work. 15:09 Such as how you lead a kickoff, or the creative exercises that you'll use 15:11 in your brainstorm sessions, or the way you run retrospectives, or health checks. 15:16 Your production model may also include things as broad as 15:21 the standard flow of how you move through any particular project. 15:24 There's the kickoff and then there's the exploration, 15:29 the architecture, the art direction, design, development, Q.A., ship. 15:31 Whatever it may be, we all have our own version and derivative of that. 15:37 And maybe that's something you want to standardize as 15:41 part of your production model. 15:43 So however many things you have in your production model. 15:46 The important thing here is that you have a broad and versatile set of approaches. 15:49 But also that they're opinionated. 15:56 You want your production models to be opinionated. 15:58 Because at the end of the day, 16:01 it's your production model that defines the work that you do as a team. 16:03 It's what gives your work distinction from everybody else. 16:07 So again be intentional about the way you build your production model, 16:12 be intentional about the ways that you solve problems. 16:14 Thirdly, your routines. 16:23 As a name suggests, your routines are things that you do on a daily or 16:27 weekly or monthly basis. 16:33 They also become a very helpful and valuable counterbalance to what 16:36 could otherwise be a very chaotic day-to-day work inside of your projects. 16:41 So whether it's crazy client feedback just came in, or big industry news, 16:46 or a competitor just released some other feature and your day gets really chaotic. 16:52 You always have these routines they can confidently lean back on. 16:57 These routines give your team a consistent set of rhythm and 17:03 help you maintain your momentum. 17:08 As you kind of work through the day to day challenges. 17:10 So let me give you a couple examples of this. 17:13 At Shopify our design team subscribes to two main routines. 17:15 The first one is something we call fresh eyes. 17:22 Fresh eyes is our version of peer feedback, essentially. 17:26 So it happens twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 17:29 at the end of the day for 30 minutes at a time. 17:32 And the whole team comes together in a room, and 17:35 we all do a round table of show and tells and peer critiques. 17:37 Now, over the years we've actually iterated quite a bit on the different 17:42 formats in which we run for slide sessions through. 17:45 But the value in the benefits of doing fresh eyes as a routine, 17:50 still staying true. 17:55 And they are that one, it gives 17:55 constant exposure and visibility to all the work that's happening across the team. 18:00 This is especially important as the team continues to grow larger and you start to 18:05 lose sight of things that are being worked on outside of your immediate vicinity. 18:10 Secondly it pushes people to practice 18:17 communicating their decisions and their work. 18:19 You may be the most technically competent designer in the world. 18:23 But unless you can articulate your decisions and 18:27 the work you've done in some kind of coherent manner. 18:31 Your growth is always gonna be slightly stunted. 18:33 And thirdly, it forces everybody to practice how to give and 18:38 receive constructive feedback. 18:43 And let me tell you, feedback is an art all on its own and 18:46 probably deserves its own talk. 18:49 But it's incredibly important for people to learn that and 18:52 get used to the exercise of giving each other feedback. 18:56 So those are three benefits of why we do Fresh Eyes. 19:01 And that's one of the routines that we have. 19:03 The second routine is something we call design talks. 19:08 This happens at the tail end of the week. 19:11 And it's an hour for the entire design team to step away 19:14 from the day to day work, and just geek out on design again. 19:19 If Fresh Eyes is about building consensus around the work that we're doing. 19:25 Then in contrast, 19:29 for us, design toss is actually all about celebrating individuality. 19:30 There's a big knowledgement 19:35 that every designer comes from a different background. 19:38 They are inspired by different things. 19:41 And they approach design in different ways. 19:43 And so we rotate through a number of different exercises that put a spotlight 19:47 on those unique characteristics. 19:50 So we do things like debates, which we call beach ball. 19:52 You can ask me about why later. 19:55 We do show and tells. 19:59 We do challenges. 20:01 We do field trips. 20:04 We do a number of different creative exercises. 20:05 And it's a ton of fun because it allows us to broaden our perspective on design and 20:07 let us look at design in very different ways. 20:12 And, of course, as a routine, the true benefit is that regardless of how busy 20:16 your day to day work gets, it means that every single week, 20:22 you have a portion of your time carved off to just get back to your craft. 20:27 And I believe we exist in a passion industry. 20:33 And we can often get lost in just the day to day project work and 20:37 tasks that we have to accomplish. 20:41 So it's fantastic to be able to take a team back for at least an hour a week and 20:44 just reflect on why we all got started in this industry in the first place. 20:49 Likewise, fresh eyes happening twice a week, for us, 20:54 it ensures that regardless of how crazy projects get, 20:58 you're always gonna have that consistent flow of pure feedback. 21:01 They always happen Tuesdays and Thursdays. 21:06 So that's really the true benefit of routines. 21:10 So again, to summarize, 21:14 your design practice is made up of those three components. 21:14 It's your tools, it's your production model, and it's your routines. 21:16 Think about all the things that you do as a team, and 21:21 think about how they fit into each one of these components. 21:24 And that's essentially the beginnings of what your design practices. 21:29 So, let's put that aside for just a second. 21:34 And I wanna move on to a second concept that is related, and 21:36 that is your design culture. 21:40 Culture's a really funny thing. 21:45 You know, we say it a lot, we use it a lot, refer to it a lot, 21:46 but we often have trouble defining it precisely. 21:51 In fact, sometimes it becomes a little bit of a fluffy topic. 21:55 Especially when we only associate it with things like social events or 22:00 the perks you get at work, right? 22:06 The ping pong table in the game room and all those kind of things. 22:07 The other thing that makes it difficult to define culture is the fact that you can't 22:11 build it directly, it's not a product on its own. 22:16 You can foster it, you can facilitate it, but you can't build it directly. 22:20 And that's because culture 22:25 actually manifests itself from the things that you do. 22:28 So think about all the things you do, 22:34 all those little interactions that happen on a day to day basis. 22:36 How do people talk to each other? 22:39 Is it through IM? 22:41 Is it through slack? 22:43 Is it through email? 22:44 Is it in person? 22:45 Is it text messaging? 22:45 What kind of meetings happen? 22:46 How long are these meetings usually? 22:49 What's the format of peer reviews that you hold? 22:52 What's the environment that you work in? 22:55 What's the desk set ups? 22:57 How are you guys organized? 22:59 What do meeting rooms look like? 23:01 All of these things have an impact. 23:04 Yes, those social interactions, 23:06 they also play a role, but they're a much smaller fraction 23:08 relative to all the regular things that you do in order to get your work done. 23:11 In fact, this is actually why I am trying to stress so much that we need to be 23:17 very intentional about the way that we think about our design practice. 23:21 Because at the end of day, it's our design practice that 23:26 actually defines all of these things that we do, or most of these things that we do. 23:31 So in the same way that you think about a brand as the sum of all the touch points 23:37 a customer has with the product, your culture, your design culture is very much 23:41 all the various touch points that your team has with your design practice or 23:46 with your company. 23:50 So then, you may be asking now, well, is my design culture healthy? 23:55 How do I even measure something like culture, in the first place? 24:01 Lucky for you, I actually have an answer to that. 24:07 I have three main characteristics that I use to gauge 24:10 the overall state of our design culture at any given point. 24:15 And as I go through these heuristics, I urge you to also ask yourself that and 24:19 reflect on your own team and see where you stand. 24:24 So the first thing is, is there a common language across the entire team? 24:30 A common language through which everybody can use to discuss design. 24:36 A simple litmus test here is to take any two designers from the team, 24:42 put him in front of a piece of common work and 24:47 see whether they're gonna have a productive conversation or not. 24:49 How is that gonna go? 24:52 Are they gonna be too friendly and 24:54 shy such that they're all very agreeable and just not critical enough? 24:58 Or is it the other end of the spectrum, is it going to be very aggressive 25:04 with polarizing arguments and very ego-driven debates? 25:07 Ideally, it's neither of the two. 25:13 But it doesn't actually suggest that everybody also has to agree on everything. 25:15 Having a common language just suggests that your team has the means 25:19 to discuss design and work productively. 25:25 Even if it means they're going to disagree. 25:30 And so your language as a team, 25:34 your language will also extend beyond just the words. 25:36 The words and the terminology certainly will matter. 25:39 But it should also include the values, the principles, 25:43 the philosophies that your team stands for. 25:45 What is good design? 25:48 What's bad design? 25:50 You know, can you describe those things, define 25:51 those things in objective ways, and use that as the basis of your conversation? 25:56 Secondly, is there an awareness of each 26:04 other's strengths across the entire team? 26:09 When it comes to design, it's not a linear scale of just bad to good, right. 26:13 They're different people, 26:18 different designers are gonna be good at different things. 26:19 Maybe it's data, maybe it's architecture, maybe it's illustrations. 26:22 Or UI, or layouts, maybe it's mobile as a whole. 26:25 Whatever that spread of talent is across the entire team, 26:31 it's really important for the team to be able to identify, understand, 26:36 and respect all of those strengths. 26:41 Again, your test here is that if you have one of your team members struggling with 26:45 a particular kind of problem, are they going to be able to identify who 26:49 else on the team is really good at solving that kind of problem and pull them in? 26:53 Cuz only then is your team actually able to leverage the collective strength 26:59 of everybody on that team. 27:04 Right? We've all heard the phrase the whole 27:09 is greater than the sum of the parts. 27:11 That's how a team should function. 27:14 Because without that, if you ignore what everybody's strengths are, and 27:17 you assume everybody's exactly the same, 27:22 well then you might as well just be a loosely tied group of freelancers. 27:24 And we'd be missing the point of being part of a team. 27:28 The third thing to ask yourself is, is there a shared sense of ownership? 27:38 Especially in product companies like Shopify, 27:43 there's only one product at the end of the day. 27:47 Right, when we ship a feature, a merchant doesn't point at that and say, oh, 27:50 Ryan designed that. 27:55 No, they say Shopify designed that, or Shopify's design team designed that. 27:58 And it's the same if you work in an agency, right? 28:03 There's always a common brand attached to every client project that leaves the door. 28:05 So long as you're working in a team 28:11 where you have multiple people working on multiple projects at the same time. 28:14 We need to help everybody get into the mindset that 28:19 they are in fact a representation of the rest of the team working on one project. 28:22 And they need to also measure their peers, the work of their peers against 28:29 the same standards and benchmarks that they hold themselves to. 28:33 And if there is a gap, help them close that gap. 28:37 From my experience, this is actually one of the hardest things. 28:42 It is one of the areas that teams struggle with the most. 28:45 Cuz not only do you need to have the shared sense of ownership and 28:49 be able to identify when those gaps exist. 28:53 They also need the skill set to be able to help somebody close that gap and 28:56 improve and get better. 29:00 And again, that's where that whole exercise of feedback really comes in. 29:02 But regardless of that, a shared sense of ownership is incredibly important. 29:07 People need to care about what's going on around them beyond just their own project. 29:12 There's just one brand, 29:18 there's one product at the end of day that everybody looks at. 29:19 So summarize, is my design culture healthy? 29:25 Well here are your three heuristics. 29:30 Do you have a common language? 29:32 Is there an awareness of everybody's strengths? 29:35 Is there a shared sense of ownership? 29:38 The reality is that these things are never quite done or perfect. 29:41 I mean, even if you think you're in a perfect state, which is great, 29:46 you probably have a fantastic culture then, 29:51 there's still stuff to be worked on at any given point. 29:54 And that's where the design practice really comes back in again. 29:58 Because it's their design practice that defines the things that you do. 30:03 And it's from those things that your culture manifests itself from. 30:06 And so if there's something that you wanna improve on the culture side of things, 30:15 you look for the right mechanisms inside of your design practice, 30:18 in order to make that happen. 30:22 Tools like Invision, for us, allow us to conduct fast paced, 30:25 rapid fire feedback on a daily basis between our product teams. 30:29 But it also ensures that multiple people across multiple disciplines 30:33 get exposure to conversations about design. 30:38 Over a long period of time, a natural common language emerges with that group. 30:42 Similarly Fresh Eyes, happening twice a week. 30:47 A lot of is about building a common language between everybody who 30:52 participates. 30:55 In fact early on, when we first started doing fresh eyes and when the team 30:56 themselves was actually very fresh, I actually didn't even care whether or 30:59 not we were getting any real constructive useful feedback from our sessions. 31:03 It honestly did not matter to me. 31:08 Only thing that mattered to me was the fact that they were spending 30 minutes, 31:10 twice a week, talking about design together. 31:15 You do that long enough, then a common language also appears. 31:18 Of course, in the way that we train people to present their work, 31:24 communicate their work at things like Fresh Eyes. 31:28 Not only helps the contextualized projects, and 31:32 help the team understand its significance and its goals and objectives. 31:35 But, obviously, also garners its emotional investment from the team. 31:40 People want that project to succeed because now they know 31:44 why it's important in the first place. 31:47 And like I mentioned before, 31:51 things like design talks is all about celebrating individuality. 31:52 So when we do these various exercises, 31:55 you start to really see what all the different people's strengths are. 31:58 And that goes a long way. 32:03 And there are a number of different aspects of our design practice 32:04 that I can rhyme off that also contribute to how we facilitate a healthier culture. 32:11 Okay, so let's take a breather for a moment. 32:22 That's a lot to take in, in a little bit over thirty minutes. 32:24 So far I've given you all a framework for 32:29 how to define and grow your design practice. 32:33 And I've also given you a set of juristic's that you can use 32:37 to then measure the effectiveness of that design practice, and 32:39 the culture that manifests out of it. 32:44 It's a lot of stuff. 32:48 There's a lot of moving parts at any given point, I understand that. 32:49 But here's the thing, you don't have to tackle it all at once. 32:53 If you're at a point where you don't have much of a design practice yet, 32:57 but you're looking to establish one. 33:00 Start with one thing at a time. 33:03 Introduce one small aspect and funnel some energy towards that 33:05 until the point when it's in a good place, then you can move on to the others. 33:10 Start with the low hanging fruit. 33:15 Stuff like Fresh Eyes and design talks, 33:17 if you're not doing them already, that's a no brainer for me, start there. 33:19 Get a calendar invite into your teams calendars immediately. 33:23 Make sure they're making time for it. 33:28 Set some ground rules and just start rolling with the punches. 33:29 It's a simple as that. 33:33 Start there. 33:35 We've been working at Jobfly on our design practice, 33:39 in this particular format, for the better part of the last two years. 33:42 And there are still some big areas that we're working on as a team. 33:45 And while we've come a long way in two years, 33:51 we honestly did not start with everything in place. 33:53 We started one step at a time so, build a design practice little by little, 33:57 brick by brick. 34:01 And if nothing I've said so far has really resonated with you or 34:07 it just doesn't work well with the team or the environment you work in. 34:09 For whatever reasons, then I'm hoping that these three pieces of parting 34:14 advice will be something beneficial to you. 34:18 Firstly, don't over engineer this stuff, right? 34:21 Don't overdo it. 34:25 If you recall my story earlier, when you're small team, 34:27 you can leverage the fact that there's a ton of natural creative chaos. 34:30 You can be small, and scrappy, and nimble. 34:34 Be diligent in how you decide what things need processed and 34:39 what things will benefit from some degree of standardization or automation. 34:42 And what other things you can actually just wing. 34:46 Secondly, I'm going to say it again. 34:52 Be intentional. 34:54 Don't allow yourself to do anything arbitrarily. 34:56 Be intentional, 35:01 be explicit, be opinionated about all the different things that you do. 35:01 That will set you up to be in control, to tweak those things down the road. 35:06 Thirdly, focus on building habits, not process. 35:16 It's a very fine line between them but an important distinction. 35:20 When you focus too hard at just building process, 35:25 you really just focus on trying to get something done. 35:29 And if you want long term sustainable success, that's not gonna work. 35:31 You want to focus at the end of the day on just building healthy habits. 35:36 Because when it is a habit, it's natural, it's intuitive. 35:41 It's just stuff that people do. 35:45 And when it gets there, 35:48 you remove all of the overhead that comes with any kind of process. 35:50 And that's the perfect place to be. 35:55 It's at that point that you're really finding that intersection 35:57 between what people want to be doing and what companies need. 36:00 So we've covered a lot here, in somewhat broad strokes. 36:08 So there's obviously a ton of other things to go deeper on. 36:11 You know, whether it's 36:15 talking about how we can actually help the team be better at giving feedback. 36:19 Or what kind of exercises you should be running during design talks. 36:23 Or what are the different formats of peer reviews or 36:26 fresh eyes you should be running. 36:28 There are a number of different things that I love to throw down on and 36:30 get really deep on. 36:33 So, I'm around for the rest of the conference. 36:34 I hope we can chat a little bit more during the breaks. 36:38 I'd love to, like I said, throw down on ideas. 36:40 But also hear about how things are working in your world. 36:43 Because we're still growing,and we're still learning, and there's a ton of 36:46 things that we could benefit from hearing, how other teams operate. 36:49 But you can also generally just creep me everywhere. 36:54 I'm @verneho on pretty much every social network. 36:57 I will put a disclaimer out there that I am most active today on Instagram. 37:02 So that's probably the best place if you really want to stalk me and 37:07 see what's going on in my world. 37:09 You can find me there. 37:10 But otherwise find me everywhere else @verneho as well. 37:11 Thank you so much for listening, 37:14 I look forward the chatting with you guys the rest conference. 37:15 >> [APPLAUSE] 37:18
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