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Design Better Podcast
52 minutes | 3 months ago
Netflix's Steve Johnson and Rochelle King: Making great stories accessible
If you’re anything like us, you’ve been watching more than your fair share of Netflix this past year. And with such great original content, from The Queen’s Gambit to more obscure shows like Midnight Diner, we were curious what it takes from a product design perspective to create and deliver these shows to a massive audience, in a way that’s accessible not only to audiences here in the US, but all around the world. So we sat down to chat with Steve Johnson, Vice President of Design, and Rochelle King, Vice President of Creative Production at Netflix, to talk about how they approach inclusive design for a global audience, how they use a data-informed rather than data-driven product strategy, and why looking for passion rather than for credentials might be the key to your next great hire. This is the last episode of Season Five of the Design Better Podcast. But don’t worry, Season Six is just around the corner, where we’ll be sharing interviews with guests like bestselling author Dan Pink, who will teach us how to use persuasion to be better at our jobs, and Professor Sara Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist whose research on exoplanets can shed light on how we can be better collaborators here on Earth. Also, in-between seasons we’re going to do a bonus Q&A show, where you’ll have a chance to record your questions about design, creativity, leadership, or any of the topics we cover here on the show and we’ll do our best to answer them. Just head over to http://dbtr.co/ama and fill out the short survey there to submit your question. Takeaways: Learn about the ROI for inclusive design Hear how the design team at Netflix approaches the power dynamics between product and design Understand how to prioritize and say no to work that won’t impact the business
43 minutes | 3 months ago
Apple TV+ Home’s Doug Pray and Matt Weaver: Designing spaces that change behavior and create opportunity
Of the designed objects we interact with on a daily basis, our homes are probably the most influential on the way we live our lives. In Apple’s new series Home, the creators investigate the ways that some of the world’s most imaginative dwellings help their occupants reframe the way they live and work. In this episode, we chat with Matt Weaver and Doug Pray, who are both executive producers for the show. Matt also produced several other notable documentaries, including Chef’s Table and Jiro Dreams of Sushi. In addition to directing several episodes of the Home, Doug has directed or produced a number of documentaries including The Defiant Ones, and collaborated with Doug on the documentary Surfwise. We’re always curious how creative folks in different industries address challenging design problems, so we asked Matt and Doug about how the subjects of Home used their own stubbornness and resilience to push their projects forward, how constraints of location and material encouraged creative solutions, and about some of the common threads they see across creative disciplines. Takeaways: How the creators profiled in Home think about seeing: seeing in detail, seeing the unseen, seeing opportunity where others don’t, seeing a better way. How design can shape behavior by building community, connecting us to nature, and calming and shifting emotions. The benefits of bringing professional life into personal life, and living an intentional life. Bios Doug Pray is best known as a director of feature documentary films about American subcultures and maverick individuals. He has also directed short films and documentary-style commercials for a wide range of major clients and causes. He received a BA in sociology from Colorado College and an MFA from the UCLA School of Film and Television. He recently wrote, edited, and executive produced The Defiant Ones (2017), a television documentary mini-series that aired on HBO and garnered a Grammy Award and five Emmy nominations. Matt Weaver is an executive producer of Apple’s TV series Home, and also produced many other notable documentaries such as Chef’s Table, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, The First Monday in May, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
34 minutes | 4 months ago
John Cleese: A cheerful guide to creativity
The Ministry of Silly Walks. The Cheese Shop. French Taunting. If you haven’t seen any of these Monty Python sketches before, do us a favor and go watch one or two of them. You’ll discover—or re-discover—why our guest for this episode is a creative comic legend. John Cleese starred in and co-wrote the award-winning series Fawlty Towers, was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay of A Fish Called Wanda, and even has a species of lemur named after him (Cleese’s wooly lemur, Avahi cleesei). He’s also an expert on the creative process, and so if you’re looking for a new framework to level-up your own workflow, his book Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide is a great resource. We talk with John about his new book, and also about creative collaboration in the midst of friction, how to be comfortable with ambiguity, and creating boundaries of space and time to get in a creative mode. We also get to ask him a question that’s been bugging us ever since we first watched Monty Python and The Holy Grail. After everything that happened in 2020, we can all use a little more laughter in our lives. We hope our interview with John sparks some joy, and leaves you with some new creative tools. Thanks for listening. Takeaways: How John’s childhood influences the way he approaches creativity Why John uses writing to explore ideas What “closed mode” and “open mode” are (and how they relate to convergent and divergent modes of thinking). Bio John Cleese is an English actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. He achieved success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and as a scriptwriter and performer on The Frost Report. In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python's Flying Circus and the four Monty Python films, And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life. In the mid-1970s, Cleese and his first wife, Connie Booth, co-wrote and starred in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers. Later, he co-starred with Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and former Python colleague Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures. He also starred in Clockwise, and has appeared in many other films, including two James Bond films, two Harry Potter films, and the last three Shrek films. He is also the author of Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide.
44 minutes | 4 months ago
Logitech's Jason Mayden: Leading with curiosity and humility
As we head into a new year—and leave behind a year that was challenging for just about everyone on the planet, with the hope that this year will be better for all—we wanted to share an interview with one of the most optimistic, creative, and insightful people we know: designer, entrepreneur, and educator Jason Mayden. When we first interviewed Jason in 2018 for one of our Design Better Conversations, we knew we had to get him on the podcast. He had such a unique perspective on design as a service to humanity that we sensed our audience would love to hear his story. We spoke with Jason on a wide range of topics, from how a near-death experience in childhood shaped his career and life, to how he maintains his energy and focus, to why being a polymath is an enormous advantage in today’s job market. We finish the interview on a topic that strays a little from our usual subjects but is ultimately more important: how through all of our individual struggles we can benefit from recognizing our shared humanity. Takeaways: Learn what drove Jason to create his company SuperHeroic, and what he took away from the process. Hear how servant leadership shapes his work and creativity. Understand how Jason designs his life using tools like creative direction and brand strategy, Bio In his previous role at Nike, Jason oversaw the design and execution of all conceptual products, data-driven innovations, and inline lifestyle and performance product for Jordan Brand, as the Senior Global Design Director. During his 13+ year career at Nike, Mayden led and contributed to the creation of innovative sport performance products for athletes and cultural icons such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Derek Jeter, and Michael Jordan. In 2011, Mayden successfully received his Master’s in General Management and Social Innovation from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and shortly thereafter he returned to Nike as the Global Director of Innovation for Nike's Digital Sport division where he was responsible for the strategic investigation of new technologies and services, such as the Nike Fuel Band and the Nike+ platform. Currently, Jason is an advisor, d.Fellow and Media Designer at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, a frequent lecturer at Stanford University’s prestigious Graduate School of Business, and an advisory board member to his undergraduate alma mater, the College for Creative Studies.
46 minutes | 5 months ago
Airbnb’s Brian Chesky: Designing for trust
It all started with a box of cereal. Well, that’s not exactly the beginning, but when Brian Chesky and his roommates had maxed out their credit cards while starting up what would become Airbnb, they had a crazy idea to continue funding the company by designing and selling limited-edition cereal boxes during the 2008 presidential election, and call them Obama O’s & Captain McCain. Now, 12 years later Airbnb just made its initial public offering—IPO—on the Nasdaq on December 10th, and what a ride it’s been. In this interview we speak with Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, and learn how being a designer has influenced the arc of his journey, leading a company from a 3-person startup to a public company. We talk about what it’s like to design for trust during a pandemic, and the power of having a clear company mission that all can align to. If— like some of our colleagues— you’re living in or working from an Airbnb right now, or have taken your family on a holiday made possible by them, we hope Brian’s story will be especially inspirational. As always, thanks for listening, and enjoy the show. Takeaways: Learn how Airbnb designs with a mission of belonging, to counteract the loneliness so common in our digital-first era. Hear why Airbnb organizes their teams by customer journey Learn about Project Lighthouse, Airbnb’s effort to combat discrimination.
35 minutes | 5 months ago
Google’s Annie Jean Baptiste: Building better products for everyone
As designers and design leaders, most of us understand the ethical importance of making our products accessible and inclusive for all the people who use them. But we don’t always understand the best way to go about doing this, or the business case for making it a priority. That’s why we were excited to speak with Annie Jean Baptiste, Head of Product Inclusion at Google. Our recent guest John Maeda said, "If there is one voice in tech to listen to right now, it is Annie's on the material impact of inclusion in business today and in the future." Annie recently wrote a book called Building For Everyone: Expand Your Market With Design Practices From Google's Product Inclusion Team. We ask her about what spurred her to write the book, along with some of the strategies she uses for researching, designing, and shipping inclusive products. We hope you come away from this conversation with some ideas you can bring back to your own team, to make better products for everyone. Thanks for listening. Takeaways: Learn about the "ABCs of Product Inclusion" which Annie writes about in her book Hear about hiring practices to build inclusive teams Get guidance on how to build this role into your own team.
61 minutes | 6 months ago
Author Bill Burnett: Designing Your Work Life
In the wake of a worldwide pandemic and economic catastrophe, many of our friends and colleagues in the world of digital product design are fortunate to have kept their jobs, but there have also been many who were not so lucky. We thought it would be timely to bring in an expert who has been using a designer’s mindset to help people reframe their approach to their careers. Bill Burnett, co-author of the bestselling book Designing Your Life, has written a new book called Designing Your Work Life. Bill has been the executive director of the design program at Stanford for 13 years and has also taught one of the most popular elective classes there (which his first book was named from). He and his co-author Dave Evans have taken what they have learned from teaching and running workshops for adults in the midst of a career or life transition to come up with a framework for using tools like curiosity, reframing, radical collaboration, and a bias to action to transform your work life and find the best job for you. In this interview, we speak with Bill about how adopting a designer’s mindset can help you through your current challenges if you’re searching for work. We also chat about how grit and perseverance maps to happiness at work, and how setting aside time for reflection can help you understand what changes you need to make to find a better job (which may even be in your current company). Takeaways: How setting micro-goals can help you achieve positive change at work. Why you might think about redesigning and iterating on your role at your current company if you’re unhappy. What the idea of “generative quitting” is, and why asking the question “What am I doing wrong?” might be a good idea before you decide to quit. Bio Bill Burnett is the co-author of the NYT Best-seller Designing Your Life. He’s also co-director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford University. He’s a designer, educator, and an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. He’s also the Executive Director of the Design Program where he manages the undergraduate and graduate degree-granting programs and advises 70 -100 students annually.
41 minutes | 6 months ago
Debbie Millman: Revealing what matters the most to designers and creatives
We’re not ashamed to admit that, when we booked Debbie Millman for our show, we were a little intimidated. Not by Debbie herself, who always comes across as kind, smart, and thoughtful in the interviews she does for her own show, Design Matters. But just knowing that we were interviewing a pioneer in the podcasting space, someone who has been interviewing designers and creatives for over 15 years, and who spends a huge amount of time and effort researching each of her guests… that had us a little nervous. That fretting turned out to be completely unwarranted, as Debbie is as gracious and entertaining a guest as she is an interviewer. In addition to her long-running podcast, Debbie is the President Emeritus of AIGA and chair and co-founder of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. We spoke with her about the role that teaching plays in her learning process, and covered a range of topics from ethics in design to the differences between being a designer and an artist. Takeaways: Learn why it’s important for design to be personal, even when you’re designing for other people. Hear how digital product designers can learn from other creative disciplines that have a long history. Find out how to stay in better “career shape,” whether you are a recent graduate or further in your career.
43 minutes | 7 months ago
John Maeda: Working at the intersection of design, business, and technology
Over the arc of his career, John Maeda has been many things: a professor at MIT, president at the Rhode Island School of Design, a Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins, head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic, and now Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient. In our interview with John, we learn how curiosity and humility have driven his wide-ranging and accomplished career. We also dive deep into his recent CX Report, which was formerly called the Design in Tech Report (we ask him about the name change). We discuss why algorithms have the potential to narrow our point of view, and why digital transformation is so hard for companies that are lower on what he refers to as the “Kardashev Scale.” Takeaways: Why “shipping your org chart” may not be a bad thing. What “L.E.A.D.” products are (Light, Ethical, Accessible, Dataful). How design becomes more important as the frequency of interactions with digital products increase Bio John Maeda is an American technologist, designer, engineer, artist, investor, author, and teacher. He is Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient, the technology consulting and delivery arm of communications and marketing conglomerate Publicis. Maeda serves on the Board of Sonos and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. He has held positions with Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com; the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins; served as president of the Rhode Island School of Design; and began his early career at the MIT Media Lab at the intersection of computer science and visual art. Named as one of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” by Esquire, Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and MBA-community translator to bring people and ideas together at scale. He is the author of several celebrated books, including The Laws of Simplicity and Redesigning Leadership. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED have received millions of views.
44 minutes | 7 months ago
Seth Godin: Learning to take risks, be generous, and make a ruckus
If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, just type “Seth” into Google or DuckDuckGo. The first entry will lead you to his blog, where he writes—every day—about marketing, design, writing, how being a better human will make you better at your job. Once you’ve started to read his blog, you’ll probably be hungry for more of his wisdom. He’s written over eighteen bestselling books on business and marketing, including Linchpin, Purple Cow, and The Dip. We’ve been following Seth for a long time, and his writing and speaking have influenced how we think about creating and marketing products. So it was a huge honor to have him on our show, where we spoke about subjects ranging from how to take risks in your career, to why being creative is an act of generosity, to the idea of “creative destruction.” We hope you enjoy our conversation with Seth as much as we did, and after you finish, we encourage you to go make a ruckus. Takeaways: Why the counterintuitive idea of “surplus” means that, despite everything going on in the world, we all have access to more resources than the last King of France did. Why writing is often the best starting point for almost any type of creative work. Why a company is more like an organism than an organization Bio Seth is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and teacher. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 19 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn). His most recent book, This is Marketing, was an instant bestseller in countries around the world. Though renowned for his writing and speaking, Seth also founded two companies, Squidoo and Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!). By focusing on everything from effective marketing and leadership, to the spread of ideas and changing everything, Seth has been able to motivate and inspire countless people around the world. In 2013, Seth was one of just three professionals inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. In an astonishing turn of events, in May 2018, he was inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame as well. He might be the only person in both. Seth created the altMBA and Marketing Seminar to transform online education and help people connect with their audience.
40 minutes | 9 months ago
Jina Anne, Founder of Clarity Conference, on Crafting a Community for Design Systems
To celebrate the new InVision DSM, we're sharing one of our favorite episodes in conversation with Design Systems Advocate, Jina Anne. If you’re engaged in any sort of community surrounding Design Systems, whether it’s the Design Systems Slack, or the Clarity Conference, then you have likely benefited from Jina Anne’s work. A self-styled Design Systems Advocate, Jina has been passionate about creating events, content and resources that bring together communities of people who care about design systems and how they impact product design. In this bonus episode of the Design Better Podcast, we chat with Jina about how she got into Design Systems, what she has learned from building these communities, and how being a hybrid designer-developer influences her understanding of Design Systems. Takeaways: How having a Design System affects company culture. What to consider when deciding to go public with your Design System, or keeping it private. How Design Systems can be effectively maintained.
47 minutes | a year ago
Designing for Diversity: Project Inkblot’s Jahan Mantin and Boyuan Gao
In today’s episode, we talk with Boyuan Gao and Jahan Mantin—the founders of Project Inkblot—who have built a practical framework that can help everyone design for diversity, and can also be a guide for challenging conversations. We discuss how they see design as an opportunity to bridge the divide and bring people into the conversation about designing products and services that address everyone’s needs, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or religion. We also talk to them about their definition of intent vs. impact, and how to close the loop on making sure your impact is what you intended. We hope you can use some of their ideas as a way to open the door to difficult conversations, and better understand your colleagues and customers. Takeaways: Understanding why the impact of a product can vary greatly from its intent. How design can act as an invitation to participate in difficult conversations. Learn about Project Inkblot’s D4D framework to start building more equitable products, services, and content.
51 minutes | a year ago
Silicon Valley Product Group’s Marty Cagan: Why product management is misunderstood
Are you on a product team or a feature team? After you listen to our interview with Marty Cagan, legendary product management guru, author, and partner at Silicon Valley Product Group, you’ll know just where you stand, and how to become a product team leader if you aren’t already one. We also discuss why product management is misunderstood, the dual track agile process, discovery sprints, and the four types of prototypes that Marty has classified, including user, feasibility, live data, and hybrid prototypes. Takeaways: How dual track agile can help to validate ideas in the fastest, cheapest way possible The four risks for every product launch Why good product teams all have the same qualities
55 minutes | a year ago
Pinterest's Naveen Gavini: Knitting different disciplines together
We’ve spoken to a lot of design leaders over the course of the Design Better Podcast, but this episode is the first chance we’ve had to speak with someone who has made the move from being an engineering leader to a design leader. Naveen Gavini, Head of Design and User Experience at Pinterest, spent time as an engineering manager and then as head of product engineering before taking on his current role, and he brings a unique perspective on leading design teams with him from his journey. Naveen shares how they “knit” different disciplines together at Pinterest, and we explore what he’s learned from scaling a team in hypergrowth. We also ask about the strategic advantage that co-founder Evan Sharp’s design background has brought to the company from day one. Takeaways: How product magic can happen when the boundaries blur between designers and engineers. Why scaling a team in hypergrowth is a lot like making soup. How design ops serves as the connective tissue at Pinterest.
41 minutes | a year ago
Atlassian’s Stephen Deasy: How designers and engineers unite the possible with the probable
“Designers are about possibilities. Engineers are about probabilities.” This quote, from Stephen Deasy, Head of Cloud Engineering at Atlassian, is just one example of how concisely he can describe the relationship between designers and engineers. Our interview with him was our first chance to learn from a leader on the engineering side, and he shared a wealth of knowledge that will help designers work more effectively with their engineering counterparts. Stephen gave us insights about running regular retrospectives and health monitors with your team, and “plays” like Roles and Responsibilities. He also spoke to the mindset and process shift that occurs when teams scale from 15, to 50, to 150 people. Stephen also relayed some great insights on design and agile. Takeaways: How to look across a company to get a pulse on the health of teams Understanding the mindset shift as teams scale What it looks like when teams are efficient and productive in an agile environment
43 minutes | a year ago
Author Joshua Seiden: Measuring work and rethinking goal setting
*** We’re nominated for a Webby 2020! Vote here: dbtr.co/webby2020 *** Love it or hate it, the agile approach to software development seems to be here to stay. Often, it’s hard to get good design practice to fit within an agile framework, so our next guest, Joshua Seiden—co-author of Lean UX and Outcomes Over Output—may be particularly helpful to those of you who are struggling. We chat with Joshua about how to fit user research into a sprint, and how he advocates for setting outcomes to guide the work of your team. We also talk about how design teams should think about measuring their work. You’ll hear: Why it’s important to set goals as outcomes, and not focus on output. How design leaders are uniquely well-equipped to lead the conversation about measuring impact, because of their close relationship with the customer. What mistakes designers make when working in an agile environment, and why going faster isn’t always better.
53 minutes | a year ago
NASA’s Steve Rader: Redefining the moonshot with diverse teams
There’s a lot of talk in the tech world about moonshots, and what it takes to build a team capable of achieving them. We thought it might be helpful to speak with someone at an organization that has achieved actual moonshots, and so we were thrilled to get a chance to speak with Steve Rader, who is Deputy Director for the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation at NASA. We chat with Steve about how he communicates across teams where expertise and vernacular might be very different, and the importance of having teams that are diverse on an array of different levels, from personal background to expertise. We also learn how vision gets communicated by leadership at NASA, and the lessons he’s learned in his career about leading people. You’ll hear: How to counteract fear of change in an organization by setting the right vision. How an innovative solution for potato chip manufacturers (delicious!) was brought about by crowdsourcing input from a diverse set of skilled people. Why it’s important to define the problem before jumping to a solution, to lead people effectively.
33 minutes | a year ago
Why business thinking for designers matters more than ever
We’ve just published a new book on DesignBetter.com called Business Thinking for Designers by Ryan Rumsey, formerly of Apple, USAA, EA, and Nestlé. It’s a challenging time out there, and we know many of you are facing uncertainty in your work, whether you’re in an industry that’s been heavily hit by the current crisis, or even if you’re lucky enough to be with a company that is navigating the current storm more or less intact. Now more than ever, designers need to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the business they work within, and show a return on investment for the work that they do. This is why we’ve released this book now, and in this bonus episode with author Ryan Rumsey you’ll learn: Why an analytical approach to storytelling is crucial to conveying your vision How to prepare for negotiations after you pitch to stakeholders Ways business thinking can help individual contributors in addition to managers In the new book Business Thinking for Designers, you’ll get to know how to speak design in the language of business, learn essential strategies to effectively communicate with your business partners, and tools, tips, and frameworks that you can put right to work. If you’re eager to download the book now, for free, just head over to https://www.designbetter.co/business-thinking-for-designers.
31 minutes | a year ago
Remote Work for Design Teams: Lessons in leadership, collaboration, and culture
We’ve just published a new book on DesignBetter.com called Remote Work for Design Teams, to help you make a graceful transition from the office to a remote work environment. In this bonus episode, we speak with the authors of the book (all from InVision): Abby Sinnott, Managing Editor, Greg Storey, Senior Director of Executive Programs, and Ben Goldman, Director of InVision Films. We chat with Abby, Greg and Ben about their own remote collaboration and teamwork while writing this book, which the team turned around in record time. We also review some tips for leaders during this crisis, and discuss why being productive at work shouldn’t necessarily be top priority for everyone on the team. If your team needs a little helping hand during these challenging times, you can head over to designbetter.com/remotework, and download the book for free. In this episode, you’ll learn: The non-obvious advantages of being a distributed team when creating this book How remote work lends itself to both divergent and convergent modes of creativity Why remote collaboration can build trust through vulnerability
53 minutes | a year ago
How to run remote design sprints and design reviews: Richard Banfield and Alison Rand
In this bonus episode, we’re once more focused on remote teams, and more specifically on best practices for facilitating remote design sprints, building trust between teams in a remote environment, and running effective critiques and design reviews remotely. In the first half of the episode, we chat with Richard Banfield, VP of Design Transformation at InVision, and author of the book Enterprise Design Sprints, who gives us practical guidance on how to run a remote design sprint effectively. In the second half, Alison Rand, our Senior Director of Design Operations, will reveal the inner workings of how our own design teams perform design reviews remotely, and make sure that work is visible across teams. You’ll learn: How to facilitate a remote design sprints and run effective design reviews The virtuous cycle that you need to put in place to build trust with your remote teams Why preparation is the most critical part of running a design sprint remotely How our veteran distributed team at InVision runs remote design reviews To discover more remote work resources from InVision, check out www.invisionapp.com/remote.
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