In this episode, I’m joined by strategist and designer Kevin Richard. Kevin is a critical, design, systems, and strategic thinker and practitioner. As part of the wider discussion on handling uncertainty and complexity, we will cover how designers can become more strategic, he shares his take on what strategy really means.
Listen to the episode
Also available on all major podcast platforms.
Your thinking and I guess the things you share online, in the community and beyond is, it’s not typical, I guess for someone who’s a UX designer or someone who even I first when I, saw your stuff online, I thought oh, this is like a service designer or service level thinker ultimately who’s very holistic.
But, just as a curve ball as the immediate question what do you define as design? because I’m sure you have very unique angle on this.
So I have my personal definition of design which I’m like I took a why to come up to this definition. And I’m still not sure yet. Like you can take me on some words and some definitions of some of the words and what I mean by those words.
And I might not be always quite 100% sure if I get it. But it’s, at least it’s my understanding. So design to me is in encompass the activities and processes that help us create mediums for interaction and mediums for interaction are, for me is something. That is important to understand that it’s not an object per se, it’s something that helps us drive interactions in some sense. And what we aim at through the creation of those mediums is to catalyze change. So we have we have an understanding of the existing, of the what is today. And want to change this existing reality to something else, which is, I would say the basic intent behind any form of design.
And to do, to achieve that, we create something. But the thing itself is not the change. It’s not the end goal. It’s a medium to achieve that change through people interacting with it. And then, and potentially changing the perspective about the reality to the point where they agree that the new reality is better than the pure one.
Yeah. And how would you know, so sorry, just to add to that, I also feel like, as you were saying, like to me, like my take on the design is that it’s a bit like to me design is change management ultimately. And but change management, when you were saying, oh it’s as is, it could mean a lot of things.
And I feel like then you have designers, maybe we are a bit more junior or maybe developing, still growing, even leading sometimes think that we need to design the medium or we need to design things, which is Yeah it’s what it comes down to. But ultimately what we really design is almost like people, their behaviors where like how we interact, yeah. We are trying to change how people interact. . So this can be achieved through different means and I guess this is where. what you were saying about my perspective on design, which is a bit different from what we can see usually is I don’t take I mean I feel it’s important, but that it’s not that important to focus on the means, right?
Because most of the design contents and knowledge is about the means. It’s how we do the things we do, right? And I find it interesting to say, okay, but it’s not the end goal, right? That the end goal is to change the reality. And the reality is composed like mostly of people, right? This is where we, this is where we act, right?
It’s with people, for the people for achieving something with them. So it, it’s where it’s interesting to to think about that this way is like it helps you to focus on the context where people act and how the thing you are designing. Is in the middle of that and trying to do something right.
And how it will reorient the interactions in a different way. And different doesn’t mean necessarily innovative, right? It can be just slightly different or it can be like a totally different and then you have a spectrum of of yeah, of interactions. You can, you could try to in that, in a specific context.
So the what is, and the what should be of the future are totally different dependent understanding. And this is probably where it’s interesting to, to I, I’m, I feel like most of what we do re, evolve around knowledge and our notion of understanding the present and how we can change things like, th this like an interesting interaction between yeah between how we make sense of the world and how we change it, right? So these are aspects that I find interesting, and this is what drives my definition of design. I intentionally create, I create it in a way that it’s general, like it’s not specific to a practice. So it’s not about the design discipline as a set of practices and methods and tools.
It’s really general as an understanding of design. So that means, with that definition, you could say like a developer like an engineer. Even a, a politician is a type of designer because he creates, they create mediums. Yeah. To change that interaction in some ways, to achieve some changes in reality.
It’s al so maybe some people will criticize it for that because it’s, I would know , yeah, it’s that specific to design as a design practice. But then you could say, okay, but what it allows you to do is pick things from other disciplines and say, yeah, I use it to design as well. Okay. I can repurpose them in my work as a designer to to do things maybe differently or create a new understanding of the work and think about new things or think differently about those things.
And this will generates novelty. And this is where it’s interesting if it brings you to more closer to innovation because you bring a new perspective on something that enables you to create new interactions, right? Basically. . When you were mentioning about the challenge here, I wanted to jump in immediately.
Yeah. . But it’s I guess the democratization of the research and design and, the strategy itself is like a big topic, right? Like with, we could spend hours. Like to me it’s like the key distinction there. It’s yes, everybody can design and everybody should design. Like to me, UX is a team sport, let’s say.
That has been my mantra for years. But someone who’s let’s say, maybe hasn’t seen all the complexities or hasn’t dealt with, all the different uncertainties, all the different risk or hasn’t managed that is not really gonna be, I guess like good enough or as progressed of a designer as someone who has seen it, who has been there, who has done it.
If that makes sense to me. It’s like that’s why it takes. decades of like very hard work. That like you spend the same, probably even more amount of time than I have in the trenches, like developing your skills because you almost have to, you have to see so many angles and you have to poke at that beast of UX or challenges again and again until you realize that, that you need to detach from the technical means and design it much more holistically.
I agree that there’s a tendency to people with more experience to see things more this way. But it’s not a given. Like it’s not always true. I met some people that are way more expense than me, and they like to not go there in that place of, abstraction and talking about strategy and they love to be hands-on, on, on what they do and be in the technical side and deep dive in it, and, and and yeah they, so it’s not necessarily a given, but I agree that there’s a tendency for people is more expensive to, to see things that way.
Now that being said I would say it’s also, I would say it’s correlated to how much. Us as designers try to expand on our understanding of the world through other disciplines, other type of knowledge. It I would presume from what you explain in your videos and how you talk to people and et cetera, that you have an understanding of business and you have an understanding of interesting.
I’ve, I’ve research and more like the technical aspect of what it means to do good research and what are, what is a good business and how businesses works and stuff like that. And what is a a good organizational set of, so people produce things and stuff like that, so those little pieces of knowledge that is external to design, but plays a huge part in what we are doing.
That you, you spend time trying to understand them. Learning about them and trying to apply this knowledge in your work. Expand your understanding of what you are doing and therefore you, it leads you to the path of, okay, so there’s more to what I’m doing, right? There’s more that I need to understand and need to to at least practice once, so I know what it means, right?
Because as you said practicing is like something that, so it is Okay. I will come to something that is a bit technical, but there’s something interesting because we have the tendency in design content to make the distinction between thinking and doing and learning and practicing. But I would say due to our really, interdependent.
It’s called praxis. And praxis is the combination of thinking and doing. And and you need to grow your practice to be able to expand your knowledge and therefore your practice as well. So the two are codependent. So as soon as you get new knowledge about something, and that is some disparities about this knowledge that you find especially relevant to what you are trying to do, right?
So you need this this this disparities to be like really relevant to you for it to work. Then you try to apply a bit of that knowledge your way in your work, right? And you learn from that. And this will feedback the learning process, the thinking process as well, right?
So they are codependent, and I would say it’s where it’s where it’s not really important if it’s about, widening your understanding or deepening your practice. , it’s the same process. I would say it’s, this is why it’s not a given that people with more experience, wellness, try to widen.
Maybe they try, but they say, okay, it’s not my sheet. Prefer to go . Focus on, on, on what I feel I’m good at. some people feel like the need for experimenting new things. And then, the two are, and. , I would say it’s one is better than the other. But yeah I don’t know, if I really reply to your question no, and I think you did.
It’s like you, you see my, my, my take is always even you described the learning, I guess this kind of approach learn, in, in my book, the get into UX design I spend, and I guess the majority of it was really about that, about the delay or not the delay maybe.
Like what I would classify as fixation of sorts, where people, someone who comes into a field and again, bringing maybe like very early in the design development career and how people design is if you are a career change, if you’re a junior, even if, let’s say you are a product manager, you wanna learn about what good design looks like, you have a lot of gatekeepers who might tell you have to do things a certain way.
You have also people who, you know, your peers who might be saying, oh, you should do this or that, or, this is what good looks like. And so people tend to learn and be fixated in this specific spot or this box, and they know that we need to develop their strategic skills.
They know that we need to take off, take on those challenges. We don’t really, for whatever reasons, try to do that. Because again, it could be that it seems like it’s so unachievable because a job ad could say, oh, you need three years of experience, even for the early stage or early entry jobs, or five years for senior and so forth.
Like those kind of a blocks, which. in some instances could work, but for majority of the people seems like unachievable, let’s say. And so we like stagnate. And so like even my message to everyone, and it’s more of an addition to your point, is like, is always to get as soon as possible into the trenches and start practicing even if like it’s, maybe it’s maybe that leaner kind of philosophies of, fail fast or figure out what works, what doesn’t.
But you have to, at some point you could fail very slowly and take your time or you can just jump into it and say, screw it. I’m just gonna try things out and see what works, what doesn’t. And then in, in the same kind of philosophy, on, on that first point of learning and getting into the field and becoming that designer is you need to make that experience happen.
Like I, I keep replying to a lot of people again and again. This is a small point, but if a person says, I need three years of experience, what do I do? It’s just go and get it, basically. And I feel like on the same sense, like if you want to become more strategic designer, you have to just practice a strategy or kind of open your mind and see exactly what’s missing.
And, taking in a lot of those signals, try start to applying, yeah. And, yeah. Yeah. There’s something interesting that I feel like there’s two, would say there’s two main points I want to add on What you said is like context. Context is king, right? So it’s not always. That easy for people to start because they don’t, they are not actually, but they don’t necessarily know it, that they are not necessarily in the right context for it to happen.
So changing context is often a good way to change your understanding of the current, the now and perceive those signals you were mentioning that you were not able to perceive before. So they were they are here. They surround you. , but sometimes you need a, you need this.
You don’t necessarily need your perspective to change, you need your context to change, for your perspective to change as well. Because usually perspective, like what we call mindset is highly dependent on the context you are in. So if you are always in the same context and you try to get new things, it’ll be hard because you will.
Work against your current context. But if you are a new context you need to innovate anyway, right? You need to bring new ways of doing things because you are in a context that you don’t quite understand yet the rules, right? So you need to try new things and by doing that, you are slowly changing the way you perceive things.
So I would say it’s in addition to where, but you said sometimes just trying new things in a new context is a good way just to realize. That’s, it’s not that far off to be there. To be the, in the place you want to be. Yeah. And it’s a bit of that kind of I guess you are touching a bit of that ontological design and how, I guess how the environment can, like you can shape your environment and where environment shapes you back in return.
And there is a lot of those loops which are like it probably would blow your mind if you could try to derate your day to day and understand how it works. But I guess I, a question for you Van would be, I can imagine people listening and, one, one person’s environment, maybe they started as a product designer and they’ve been churning UI design, but we want to improve to become more strategic, more ux whatever UX means in their, specific region.
Because that could vary as well. Yes. Other people might be a quite mid-weight senior. Like how does one change. The context, , like a lot of it you mentioned his mindset, right? So you feel like there is, that certainly you could change and it’s in your control, but like the context, what does that actually mean?
Like how do you actually change it? Okay, so the context, it’s like people will have necessarily a different understanding of it. It’s necessarily something that is fuzzy, right? So I, if I give a definition, it’ll be necessarily like some kind of subset of what your contact is. It can be the people you are with, interacting with.
It can be the actual place you are in. And it’s in fact, it’s all of a bit of that, right? So sometimes just meeting someone new, like a new person that have a different understanding of the world than you and discussing with them is enough for change of context. and therefore won’t lead for to you, like for a change of perspective.
It can be as easy as that. Or it can be like something like maybe just your holy trip was enough for you to change perspective on things. It’s hard to say because you like it’s, it will be different for each people to find the, like the moment you realize that something changed in your way of pering, of preserving your environment, it is already like in a sense, too late. Something happened already for you to change your perspective about it. About it. So it’s hard to say. It’s easier to say in the with the benefit of hindsight to say, okay, it was this event that, that changed.
Usually it’s a, it’s got a combination of. But you can force some of them as I said, meeting new people is a good way to to start. Also, I wanted to say something that like another point approach to that, but it’s highly linked to what we are dis discussing right now is that sometimes it’s easier to think in terms of agencies, right?
So something that is close to what you’re doing right now, but it’s a slightly different, like for instance you don’t know where to start doing UX design, but you have friends that are maybe working in, or giving, giving some time to non-profit organization and stuff like that.
Like why not trying to do, to apply, some of the knowledge you, you got from those design or UX courses to that space. It’s not that part of where you are right now. And it will be a change of context anyway. Because it’ll be some, a place where you don’t, you are not used to do things and you will have, you will be required to apply some of that knowledge you are not yet familiar with.
It’s, it can be a good place. It can be like, okay, you, I have I live in a neighborhood where we have a place for a playground for kids and to my taste it’s badly designed. What could I change? How could I apply those knowledge, this knowledge to that space and propose something to to the community and say, okay, maybe if we change that and that, and we can, trying to measure how it’s, it affects people and stuff like that.
And just applied pieces of knowledge and you will feel already a bit more confident about it, right? So it can be, and places of where you are at right now where you find opportunities to try new things. And you will get some things wrong. That’s, and that’s not really a big deal because it’s place where we call that kind of places fail to safe, right?
It’s fair to safe. It’s safe. Sorry to fail there, right? Yeah. It can be a a good way to experiment new knowledge. Yeah. And I feel like it’s also what, to me it’s maybe a bit of a meta layer to these things, but you kinda, my, for example, my journey and what worked for me and what worked for people, I coach, mentor, managed before under design teams and supported has always been a message to design, design everything ultimately.
So even, if we pull back to designing your environment and context, it’s like, it’s a bit of your responsibility to design not just the process of actually UX or how UX access, research and design and what’s the end product experience is like, how it looks, how it feels, behaves, yada, yada.
But also how you do what you focus on, what elements. Because with your example, let’s say with the playground. I, as you were speaking, I was like, like part of me and a big part, like the product design side or that experience in me was like, oh, yeah, I could just start by looking different parts, trying to observe exactly how the things are done, what’s not, what’s working, maybe what’s dangerous, what could be improved on a safety side or what could be improved on the kind of like education side, entertainment side and update just the artifact.
just the mean of how people interact with it, like children in this perspective. Yeah. But the bigger part of me, maybe more strategic part also is thinking policy, the local governing body, like that’s like almost like an immediate knock and this is what the real thing is because you might convince someone, maybe a neighbor, that this is a good idea to remodel things like with different play parts, whatever it could be.
Yeah. But there is so much more you have to figure out and so many more knock ons. And it kind brings us back to the uncertainty I feel like a bit yes. Where the things can be as complex as we can be like, like depending on where you stand and what tools you choose to look through.
I feel like you are gonna you’re gonna either make yourself new challenges or have very unique challenges. Doesn’t matter who you are, what sort of level designer. Yeah I agree. I totally agree with you. It’s it’s like the the Spago bone where you try to, to get just one Spago, but there’s like a this too many spies that are just wrapped and then, and then you cannot really get one without, trying to inform the others and then, and stuff like that.
And it becomes it seems in his isolation quite easy to do, but while digging in how to do it and trying to do it, you realize oh, it’s way more too complex than what I could predict it. It’s exactly your point. And that’s an interesting thing about complexity in general.
That’s a good definition of complexity is. It’s a bit abstract for people trying to follow what I’m saying, but it’s a good definition anyway. It’s complexity is the state of entanglement between the interactions of the value part of the system. So when we talk about systems, people tend to see like it’s something that is, innately defined and with clear about us.
When we discuss about human systems, generally speaking, it’s physics and clear, always, right? So it’s always, there’s always parts that are missing because you, because from your perspective it was clear, but then as, as soon as you try something, oh, there’s this other thing that you didn’t think through, right?
That, that comes in and just complicated even more. What is happening there, right? And then, , this is a statement of fact of what is complexity and how does that impact uncertainty. Because, in the discussions and knowledge around product design, usually we tend to see the product as an isolated thing, right?
With clearly defined parts clearly defined interactions between the parts. And as soon as you make the interactions really explicit, right? That everything is fine. And that’s true, but at the same time, it makes it really fragile, right? Because it’s, you just need one tiny thing that breaks somewhere and the entire system is broken because everything is explicit.
And on the contrary, things that tend to be really complex and really unclear, they tend to be really , what is it? Resilience because they have a lot of fall back falls backs, right? They have a lot of things that go going on in parallel. And if one thing break that the other things can, that still works, right?
Because you don’t understand all the interactions, everything is that explicit. So you have delay effects, you have a lot of things. I won’t go into the details of systems and stuff like that, but it’s just to get the, that you have a spectrum of complexity of states, of complexity. When we put we could call it ordered, right?
There’s ordered system that is clear, that is explicit and highly. And the, on the extreme side, you have the chaotic systems where everything is just a mess. It’s impossible to get to, to make sense a little bit. And the only way to navigate the scanner systems is to just do things right, to try to do things because any, anyway, you don’t, you cannot understand it, right?
So you have all the spectrum of complexity. And usually in design we feel like we are playing with clearly clear things. Slightly complicated, but we feel like if we design something from the, from a blank slates, that it’ll be obvious, right? It’ll work in an obvious way, and then there’s. . Like it’s, it can be complicated, but it won’t be like uncertain in the way it would behave.
But then you add all the context around it and ta it becomes a complex thing, right? To handle and to get your, to your point about policy and government and blah, blah, blah. Everything that is around this playground. That seems like a fairly simple thing to to do it, to do.
You could say, okay there’s a lot of things I cannot know, and this is something that is interesting about knowledge on complexity is that we can also define the complexity levels through how easy it is to know things, right? So the easier it is to know, How things works. The clearer is the system and therefore the most ordered.
It is. It’s really ordered because everything is explicit. It speaks for itself. , I don’t have to dig in to understand how it works. As soon as you dig Yeah. You are describing like a perfect service design project where you have like a blueprint and all the parts are, like, the links are so strong that you can basically design the thing in isolation and nothing is gonna break.
But it’s never it’s never the case , it’s never a case. And it’s almost like a double-edged sword because sometimes sometimes and this is maybe like a of a Catholic very general example, but as a designer you might join and you might need to design this quote unquote app.
I’m just gonna use as a blanket example. And you might be actually much happier. And probably better off just designing the app, not considering monon effects. Yes. Because once you get out of that boundary it could be that, it’s either not gonna work or the stakeholders or any other a lot of variables, which just might be an against you. Like it could be not even a time to make that change, because to make it trite, you have to go through time or, resources, costs, and Yeah. Things of that nature. That’s something really interesting about what is said, like getting it right, this is something that we feel important, is important in design, but we rarely take the time to like question like, what is the right thing to do?
What is the right and for many people, if you ask many people, About the same products, it’ll be different answers. And this is also like a, some, one of the interesting features of complex systems is like they, they hold different truth, like different rights at the same time, right? And it’s impossible to converge to one single truth.
So you, you have to accept from the start, go that you won’t get. . , which is confidential for a designer. Yeah. So it, it’s not that important that some things doesn’t work like that. The, some things are, like, some people are complaining about some part of the product or some part of the service.
It’s not that important. It happens because of that. And you you won’t get in a place where things will be like perfect and every everyone will be happy and stuff like that. So we have to accept that. So we have to remove a bit of our ego on the side and say, okay that’s part of the game I’m playing.
It’s, that’s, things cannot be right. They can be like, better than previous. , they can increase some aspects. With the, the side effect of decreasing other steps by definition. But you won’t get things like everything everyone aligns on. What is the right thing to do?
Yeah. Everyone can be aligned on what is the right thing to do on a local level, like on your, like in your team and you like in, in some sense, you want that to happen, right? That you want people to be aligned on what is the right thing to do right now, but you have to accept that it’s only a local truth, right?
That external to that locality, it might be not true. Yeah. And you can fail, yeah. Sorry, go ahead. No. Finish your just to come back on. On this playground, which is a predict illustration of what you could do as a designer to use design. So the design artifacts as a way of knowing as a means of discovering things that are not knowable otherwise, is you designed the thing that you feel is right, and you see what happens,
Like you go to people that hones the power of decision to say we can make that happen. You go to them and you say, okay, I feel like this is a better design. What do you think of that? And they might say, okay, we, yeah, we had this idea originally, but we didn’t do that because of that reason of that ris.
And you just transform your design as a as a learning tool, right? And this is like the next step of, I would say, how you could design stuff and how you can use your skills as a designer for discovery, which is an exploration, which is something that I feel like is really important. Especially if you want to have this kind of strategic mindset, is repurposing always, but you are doing in to, to, to get n new knowledge, to get new information, to get signals, to help you understand things better. It not necessarily means that because I’ve done that, I will create the perfect design as we mentioned, because by definition it’s impossible, but you could find ways to.
To get closer to a state where you could achieve something in that context and not being stuck. Cuz you don’t want to be stuck in that place where you cannot do anything because everyone’s saying, okay, this is a good idea. And the other guy say, oh, it’s a bad idea. You don’t want to be in that place where you cannot do anything.
But you can’t really avoid that either. And you know what brewing in my mind as we were just going through these things is also that a lot I, I mean I’m not gonna even try to estimate, but I would presume that a lot of the projects, or a lot of the value creation efforts, because it could be that, I don’t know, what if a designers, I’m sure there’s designers or product people or like buddying researchers who are gonna go their own way and just go go out there and do something disruptive or follow up on entrepreneurial efforts and take it zero to.
one. And create their own system. And g gonna figure out the ingredients and links so that everything works. It could be, all those policies and the people and the processes. Yeah. And like apps and products and whatever is included in that. But to me it seems like the majority of the projects or most value creation efforts are gonna be existing systems.
And even from a philosophy side, you could say that everything already has a system. . It’s just that whatever you design, you’re just gonna update or look at the challenges within the bigger systems. , so they kind as an onion scale, it depends what level of abstraction you look at it.
But to me it seems like still, I, if it’s a day-to-day job that a designer has and we need to be strategic, we’re gonna approach we’re gonna approach systems which already exist, and they’re probably gonna be inefficient, and there’s not gonna be any perfect, and there’s always gonna be a person who’s gonna challenge you and someone who’s agreeing.
It’s it’s almost like a part of inevitability, but the really the challenge for someone to say, yeah fuck it, I’m still gonna do it , I’m gonna go for it. Ultimately. Yeah. That’s, yeah, that’s true. But as someone that, that will do it anyway, you will still need to find spots.
You cannot. , do everything that comes in your mind and then just try it, right? , not possible. You have like limitations. They are not the same everywhere, right? It’s highly dis dispositional. So let’s say you are I’m living in Switzerland. We love regulation.
It’s Switzer villas. There’s a lot of, also a lot of passage rules people are not willing to cross, right? Things that are cultural and stuff like that. Me going against those rules that are not explicit. I will fight like all the time just to get, one tiny bits of what I would expect.
It’ll be tiring. It’ll be like waste efforts, right? For most parts. For not that big win at the end of the day, right? So , most people go not go in that food and people that are trying things, they are trying to navigate, those tacit rules and those explicit rules and stuff like that.
And find the path where they can achieve something that is close to what they are trying to do. But it won’t be like necessarily the exact thing that they had in mind, right? It’s where we would go back to anthological design and stuff like that. It’s where your idea of what is the good future, what is the change that you want to see happen is highly dependent on your current understanding of the reality of right now.
As soon as you move in the process of changing things, your understanding change and therefore the idea of the cha of the future change as well. So on the hindsight you say it was always about that. But you don’t really perceive the small changes over time. So if you if you had to take a diary of what you, of everything you have in mind, and write it and say, okay, jump in the future right now and read back.
You say, wow, I understand why I wrote that back in the days, right? But if you look at where you are right now, it’ll be necessarily a bit different. If not, largely different, right? And it’s, it was, not really it’s not something that you really perceived as you moved. Through the time and through the things you tried.
So yeah, it’s a bit philosophical, but the point is because you try to design, you change your perspective of what is the thing you are trying to design. So there’s a core evolution Yeah. Of what you are trying to do. That the mere fact that you think about changing something and trying to discuss it with anyone else is already a change in some form.
Yeah. But do you, but I guess what do you feel like people need to embrace that as a fact? Because to me it’s also, you know what, one, why I’m asking is the ontological design to me is, comes very naturally because Yeah. To me it’s part of pa it’s in inevitable. Part of the UX process is just nobody really talks about it.
Like when I was trying to get into UX and I did some modules and studies in, back in the day in uni, I think on ontological design was mentioned maybe once and that was mentioned as a broad idea. And of course UX at that point was still maturing. And, but to me that’s like it’s a pillar, so to speak.
And I feel like there is a lot of maybe natural resistance from creative side that we try to fight it or look at each challenge as a unique okay. So yeah, that’s a good point. That’s a good, that’s a good point. So should we embrace it? No, not necessarily in the sense that we we live with that anyway.
Like at the end of the day it’s just a description of what, how things work, right? I’m not speaking necessarily of ontological design, which is. An academic concept that is that has some ramification on how you should do things and stuff like that. I’m not defending an, a ontological design or proposing that we should do things through the lens of ontological design.
But ontological design, brings a lot of things that comes from complexity and complex systems and stuff like that because of who are the originator of the concept. So yeah. But yeah. But should we embrace that fact? Like I feel like it’s like there’s there’s something about that is interesting that we can take as a personal philosophy that one, one could apply in their work.
Is the. Is the notion of control, right? Because at the end of the day, as designers we like to believe that we have control over the things that we are designing, right? And that makes sense because we are active changes, right? We have active change makers, right? So we, we feel we have control over the things that we are trying to change.
And as soon as we lose the part of that control, this is where the feeling of not being, not being able to achieve what we’re trying to achieve just, hit us and we say, okay like this is where the side also, usually take a hard hit as well. Because we felt like we had one for other things.
Like I want maybe as a personal philosophy, what I find interesting from that kind of understanding is that you can start working on something and. and acknowledge the fact that you will have a zone of control, an area where you can have control over things and there’s all the rest of the space that is, there are things that you have no control of.
Right? And it’s already like a relief to, to think this way. Because you want certain things to come in your zone of control where you can control these tiny parts that interacts with the rest. And you just hope for, in a way, you hope for the best that what you are trying to do on your side will impact the other side in some way that is, that benefits to what you are trying to achieve.
And seeing things this way, it like you, because I don’t like the fact that we seek control as DERs because it, it has some ramification that I found unethical, especially in the side of when we are working with stakeholders, right? We. We want them to believe in what we’re tr we’re trying to do because we want them on our side.
And then the next step to that is changing their mind, right? Which is really analytical if you think about that. Like you, you want to be to that your ideas becomes the only idea that the other guys believe in, right? , is like really, the sort form of colonialism of thoughts, right?
Which is, which has some form of that has some unethical aspects. But I feel like and so the, but I feel like this is very important part. It’s and this is maybe, myself and my and equals one type of perspective, but I feel like if you wanna become a strategic thinker, strategic maker, like one of the things which you need to be able to decouple is your ego and your ideas from the evidence in a way.
Or like the reduction of complexity or uncertainty. And one of the things I apply, and I dunno, maybe you use your, some other mental models or tools, but is almost not sharing what I think or how it rubs me off in the wrong way. Even if it’s a workshop, a forum, even the talk now, like you, you are saying a lot of things which. 99%, I might agree. And 1% is but I don’t need to say, because in the end we’re gonna come up with something which is actually gonna have legs and actually gonna, yes. And in, in that regard, it’s that’s where you have a notion of the best designers really just facilitating design or really just facilit those efforts.
almost like guiding the team from bringing like, there’s just so many variables, so many angles to, but to me it seems like one of the big ones is really being able to park your, mammal response and ego and fear and everything in between. And let go for a sec and almost see what happens in a way, because if you try to control everything and.
in a way. I guess the challenge to myself would be as an opposite side of the spectrum is that it’s almost like a job to add a bit of a control because you have objectives and outcomes you desire as a team, maybe not personally, and you try to, I guess it’s almost that process and the loop.
. Yeah. Yeah. That I feel like there’s an interesting side discussion about metrics and monitoring, which is also form of, of control and less control about things which are like two different, not notion. But yeah, to come back to what you are saying, I totally agree with you. And you mentioned the fact that design is a team sport.
But it’s not only that, right? You try to co-create with whomever is on the circle of people with interest. Close or related interest to what you’re trying to do, right? You like, I don’t like necessarily the discussion about trying to convince them that you are doing the right thing, right?
it’s more about as I said before, like there’s multiple truth, but they can find some kind of a co coherence level where things that are apparently contra contradictory. Find a place where they can coexist in the same place and work that they work together, right? Despite the contract, apparent contraction. And this is the kind of things you are aiming at as a facilitator, right? You are not really neutral. I don’t also redefine the term as I use it. Like when I say facilitator you also bring some of what you believe in the game, right? With the others it’s more than you.
You are trying to create the space where everything can meet and something happens that goes in the right direction. And I would say it’s more important that it goes in a direction than it creates something actually like already tangible. Because what you right trying to avoid is a notion in algorithm that, that is that is what is it?
I just lose lost it. Sorry. It’s it’s no, it no just, we can come back to that . But yeah it’s just the things convers too quickly. Too rapidly. Yeah, it’s premature convergence and this is something you try to avoid because as soon as everyone agrees on something, like really agrees on something, you lose diversity.
Like you, you lose everything that makes the disparities of the ideas right. It becomes one single thing that is monolithic and that is can do something. I’m not saying it’s, it cannot do something, but you increase the change that it fails because then you have. other things that are connected to it that, that could save it, right?
Yeah. So you want diversity. You, this is where you, when you facilitating design is what you’re aiming for. It a lot of things, different things that com that not necessarily convert, but comes together at some point and create something that goes in a direction that is acceptable and also that you feel like brings benefits, right?
Not only at your level one, but for others. So everyone feel like it’s still necessity to collaborate in that direction, right? Yeah. Because as soon as you lose that, you can go alone in your, in one direction and feel alone and bring that thing alive and realizing that no one believe in it.
And you might succeed. I’m not saying you might, you necessarily don’t succeed with that kind of thing. But it’s also, it’s your changes of getting that success because Yeah because yeah. It’s just your idea, right? I feel like it’s a bit angle to sustainability as well. Yeah. And wellbeing too.
But it’s also maybe your realiz real realization. Sorry. And to be honest, I feel like the best and most strategic thinkers, most strategic doing in doers in design are the ones who realize, and something what I learned most recently, no throughout the years, I guess it, it’s been creeping it, it’s one of those notions, which forget, but when revisit is that you always take a bet and that’s nothing.
It is for certain . Yes. And it’s probably kind looking back into our points, but it’s something that product managers, have been hammering for so many years as well, is that everything is a bet. and you need to choose how you inform that be and what outcome you expect to take, and when you can reflect and learn from it.
But with that notion, then it’s not really someone who’s gonna make that one decision because you can’t. It’s if everything is a bet, then maybe someone is gonna make that big decision or a small decision, but still in the end you’re gonna learn and you’re gonna come back to it. And I feel like maybe designers tend to clinging to the process and maybe a sequence of a process and something we try to guard so much, especially in like design leadership roles.
And I can attest to that. My ego gets inflamed sometimes, even if I know it’s not the right thing to do because we tend to skip the things even if we know we’re not right. And then maybe succeed, maybe fail. But it’s that kind of. , egos and things of that nature come into play. But coming back to the uncertainty, I wonder what would you what’s your typical approach to deal with uncertainty, especially from a systems thinking approach?
And systems, just generally systems thinking, yeah, that’s a good question. So I like to use a metaphor to explain the idea. Yeah, there’s no, necessarily is, it’s not perfect as a metaphor, but it, get some in a place where you, at least you understand what I mean. So I, I tend I like, and by the way, I like metaphors because I feel like it’s a good way to bring the career.
I was speaking about on things that people can disagree on in the details, but still agree on the general, metaphor. Because the metaphor is an idea that is general enough for people to understand where we are trying to go, right? So the metaphor is the one of exploration. So you, we are explorers as explorers, sorry, as as designers.
And we are on the sea, on the boat, and we see an island on, on the horizon. And this island is the challenge we are trying to tackle, right? This is the challenge. It can be even the organization itself, like the way we work, right? It can be whatever is the challenge for you right now, right?
And something that is interesting with that analogy is from where you are on the distance, you see this island and you could guess some of its features. So you could say, okay, there’s a mountain and there’s some forest, and then there’s obviously there’s the shores. And it seems like green. It seems, a lot of things that you could guess right from looking at it right now.
And then you approach it and you land on the shore and you try to explore it right now. So you see like this entrance in the forest and you go in and you find a nice little cascade with small water and then, and stuff like that, flowers and stuff like that. And you could assume a lot of things about this island from this little spots, this little perspective you had about this island.
But you don’t know a lot of things about this island as well. I It’s not because you explore this tiny part that you. You could say, okay, this island is just green and mixed experience and stuff like that. Maybe this mountain is not a mountain, it’s a volcano, and every two years it’s, it just explodes and , you don’t know what happens.
Maybe the other side of the island is, it’s just a and it’s just one tiny part where this green forest and it, the rest is hidden behind it and you just don’t see it. So the wrong thing to do would be to assume a lot of things about this islands, just from your tiny spots. And I feel like it’s a cushiony tale about exploration in general and design as well is we have the feeling that we understand something really.
And it’s normal because we want to act in that space, right? We want to do things about this island, like constructing the village and whatever is needed right now for us to survive on that island, right? But not understanding the rest of the island, the rest of the ecosystem, how things interconnect together.
Might be like to the detriments of us survival, right? But because having a volcano that explodes every two years and being like under, in terms of time being close to it exploding is quite a dangerous place actually, right? So what you want is to rely on people that can give you insights about this island because you realize that there’s an ecosystem on that island.
There’s native people from that island you could discuss. With them and discover like inter interconnections that you like, it would take time for you to, to discover actually. So you want to create this, what we call the sensory network. You want to create a sensory network about that island.
You want to get a shared understanding of it for you to be able to act and you want as well to repurpose that sensor network. So first it’ll give you insights about the island, but as soon as you want to change this island, they will be used as ways to monitor the changes in the island because you cannot be, The certain that the, that what you are trying to do will affect the island in the proper way.
And the proper way is the way where everyone, like everyone on that island benefits from the trains. You don’t want this to be this guy that arrive on the island, burned the forest and say, okay, this is my place now. And you don’t want that, right? You want to the island to remain the island.
You just want to change it in a slightly better way. But you, I like this. Yeah, I like this metaphor. For what It. , it helps you to think in terms of process and what activities you should try to do with any challenge, right? It’s to get an understanding of it that, that some people experience have experience of that challenge that they have a perspective about it, that one perspective is not good enough and et cetera, et cetera.
And to use to use people in a way for you to get sense of and monitor things on, through a time is, are very important aspect because whatever the artifact are, design. in the end that you feel is the best way to change the island. , it’s not that important. You could say, okay, I will create 10 artifacts and see which one is doing the better job at changing the island.
And you couldn’t care less about the artifact themself than the kind of change they bring. So that’s the way I perceive it and it’s the way I do love it. That especially, and I feel like maybe a lot of people are gonna relate, because to me that does make a lot of sense. One thing, what just to better understand is it seems like you would approach everything like a living ecosystem of sorts.
Following up on the island perspective and maybe more so on that systems perspective we were talking about before on that service level thinking is, if you to design something, an experience or a product, and half whatever you’re gonna call it, is gonna be part of, I guess an island.
And there’s always a bigger ecosystem because an island is not just, yes, working in isolation. There is it’s different ways to look at it, if I understand that correctly. Yeah I like to say maybe it’s not it’s an arch and, so yeah. So yeah you could say it’s a living organism, but I, like here we go into the analogy and we lose the metaphor.
The metaphor is good because it’s not perfect, but we, it’s it, you don’t try to make one, one, connection with reality. It’s a, just an idea of what, how you could approach things like it’s a. It’s what metaphors are good parts. The analogy like treating every program necessarily as a living organism.
Like it can be helpful in some ways, but I find it is it is not always true. Like you, you have technical infrastructures, you have a lot of things that are not responding this organically to, to, to signals and stuff like that. And they are part of this ecosystem. They play a role. And it would be unwise to just say, okay it’s everything is a living stuff.
And therefore, I dunno what conclusion you can get from that. So I would say this like layers, like I like to use the idea of which is also a metaphor of topography, where you could say, okay, this this like this’s a topography of landscape. , which is a challenge, right? And you can see how the fact that the cryptography is you have a mountain and you have a here and you have planes.
The way there are dispositions influence the way the living organisms can revolve around it, like how the connection happens. You see how this, constraints, the flow of information, like where the water will flow, how the, the plant will grow and the kind of animals it’ll attract and stuff like that.
So you can. You can treat that this way and it’ll be slightly better than just a living organism. There’s a, it’s a, it’s partially living and it’s partially not necessarily the case, right? It can be like rocks and mountain and stuff like that, but they will have an influence in the landscape and how the di what kind of direction things can take.
to be honest, it’s also why, to me, and this is my kind of approach again, but I feel like there’s a lot of similarities. Like I feel like we, we are talking about the same thing. It’s like why it helps me because when I work with other designers, or let’s say I’m giving advice or they come to the challenges.
Why living matters so much is that people tend to, let’s say they, they were to design something new or maybe they want to introduce an app of sorts, or maybe they need to design sarac and people approach it like there is nothing before. Like it’s, yeah it’s like it’s a desert, like it’s a dead space and then it’s almost like we are gonna sparkle some magical dust and solution is gonna come to life and everything is gonna be jolly but why I’m saying it’s living is because there’s always something.
Yeah. It just might not be optimized, it could be that before that user type or that customer segment, and I’m gonna use a lot of UX language because then I think people may be gonna get it better. , but. There’s maybe a spreadsheet, maybe we do it manually. Maybe we use, they SMS things or do some sort, like it’s not as great of a user experience or it’s not as automated as, say, maybe it’s more manual, but there’s always something.
Yes. Like to me, if I would take your island, metaphor I would just butcher it and borrow it. It’s . There’s always an island and it’s just the state of it. It’s always living, but the state of it varies. And you are there to be brought, to build upon instead of take something which is isolated in a vacuum and you you reinvent it ground up, if that makes sense. Yes. Even if gonna come up with a new Uber, you’re still gonna be building on the blocks which are there done for you in a way. Yeah. Yeah. But Uber is a good example I think. How. How it’s more about changing an ecosystem and less about the product itself, it’s all the service. But didn’t start like that as well, i, yes. I don’t think like the team who worked on the first Uber, I feel like they came with that isolated mindset that we’re just gonna introduce this app, and then as we went, we realized that we’re gonna need to have suite of solutions, the policies, the regional needs, worker ethics, everything in between.
It’s it’s scaled up, right? I’m sorry. Someone is, pieing that the war on the other floor that’s, sorry. Uber Legal Team Bridge . Yeah. I would say, I agree with you. I don’t necessarily, what I’m not saying it’s necessarily an issue. . Because they realized Yeah, that it was, bigger than just the product, they had to in to include more things in what they were trying to do. So it’s where yeah, unexpected things happens. , even in, I don’t know if you hear the sound, but I do. Yeah. But is fine. quick, crazy. Yeah so it’s why it’s interesting is it’s not necessarily an issue that you start small with.
You don’t need to see the anti island to start doing something. And actually I won’t, I don’t put that kind of pressure on any, anyone I work with to get this broader understanding. It is for, it’s more for me to see things this way because n now I know that there will be unexpected things happen, but but I’m not surprised.
I’m I’m not necessarily surprised by the fact that it happens because I know that things are more complex and it helps you, navigate it way easier because you don’t believe in this I isolated thing until something happened than just destroy what you, you were trying to do and say, okay, now I just stop what I’m doing because it’s impossible to do what I’m, what I want to do, right?
So I’m not feeling stuck because of that. So I see it helpful to to perceive the world this way, but it’s not it’s not a necessity to act, right? I would even say, to come back to my analogy with the playground and how designing something can be a tool to learn as soon as you approach it this way.
You don’t that you could say that Uber is exactly that, that they design something that they belief is right from their level of understanding of the reality, and they really stick to the world and they learn something from that, that they can use to to adapt that design or to change or maybe to pilot and then do something totally different.
Right now the huge advantage they had is that they, they had Yeah. Finances, tobacco, whatever. They like failing was not really an issue. And this is where it’s unfair to compare every product the same way because because for instance, they had like huge investors on the side that distorted the markets and enabled them to do things that were obviously shitty.
But nonetheless they could do it. Okay. And it probably also delayed the iteration towards something that is more sustainable because the market was so much distorted in their favorable whatever they were doing. Like basically you should take Cuba, they were losing. like for, I dunno how many years, like almost six years, seven years, I don’t know.
Like what kind of company can pretend to that kind of, cash flow and losing money throughout the window, like every year so much money and still being, alive, right? It’s not that many companies so young. So an experience that can do it, right? So it’s an unfair comparison to say, okay, I want to be the uber of you need the investors for that.
Yeah. And it’s acquired by design as well. You see it. It’s like they knew what they’re doing. And so many other businesses right now, like you could name every ever successful multi-billion company, which started in tech space or tried to disrupt something manual with tech. It’s by design.
It’s almost like that’s even, you could even save it. It was designed that way. to, to slowly incrementally build value and uncover those issues and slowly scale out where they supported themselves. So I, yeah, the, I partially agree in the sense that there’s necessity part of intentionality in the feature of the design and this part of international unin intentionality in how these features express themselves in the context.
So what I mean by that is is that and Uber again is a good example because basically they, they had a non-profitable product for a product that were not succeeding for many criteria product. Management criterias, right? They were not succeeding with their product and still they remains alive and being able to function.
And it’s partially by design because like how the financial markets works, right? You could say, yeah, it’s by design. But they also had the opportunity to find this kind of investors that could help them sustain what they were trying to do, right? So it’s partially by chance, right? Like they had whatever the circumstances that make them able to get this kind of investors are like two two.
One of the reasons why they still exist today, right? And it’s partially because the market, how it works and how it is designed and what are the rules of markets that enables it to happen. But you could say, okay maybe at the same time there were like an 10 of the other companies that, that were trying to do the same thing.
Maybe with better products, way more integrated in the existing ecosystem that wouldn’t have less money as as rapidly as Uber did, but they didn’t get the investment right. And you could say it’s by design as well. because circumstances, right? Yeah, because definitely. And I feel like it, it’s also a really good it’s such a rich topic as well.
Like you could, there is so much learning in that example, especially if we talk about strategic and systems design. You could even argue, I’m gonna give you an example. Let’s say Uber specifically in the UK hasn’t been viewed in the same positive light like many other businesses. You Airbnb, you name it, like things which worked half a decade ago and been just climbing in success and growing and scaling and, people love to use are no longer of a case.
And maybe there is a bit of a natural life cycle of how things scale out of the proportions where you cannot a again, maybe use that control. We argue that, it’s not a good thing. , But you cannot assure enough quality. I feel something almost goes out the window.
And in particular, like to me the, key issue of that is let’s say worker wellbeing rights and, reward, like the ethical side of that, and I don’t want to dig into it because it’s such a massive topic for today, but it’s like strategically, if you would want to disrupt Uber today, it’s almost like a perfect spot because you can learn so much and you know exactly what worked, what didn’t.
And it’s almost like maybe a natural business evolution anyways. Yeah. When you figure out exactly what and you learn from others mistakes and then introduce and coming back to my specific example, in uk, Uber has been, successful for so long, but there have been so many competitors budding out right now, and especially at the local community level.
where those unaddressed markets, which learn from it now are budding up. And because we are keeping so small, we can invest enough time and look at the things and make it quality enough. And we also have to consider all those ethical bills because they need to pay enough to be competitive. And we can’t afford to do that because we are not that big where we need to sustain costs or, end up fix at the fixed, shareholder targets where we need to get enough profits, which are not distributed evenly, on different aspects.
But again it’s it’s a fascinating learning type of case. Yeah. So we can just draw out so many conclusions. Yeah. One, one thing we can actually learn from it is something that is, that you can learn also from network effects is that you , basically you you could see the network as a general thing, right?
You could say, okay, all the nodes of the network and et cetera, extra like things that are equal, like each node is equal. And something interesting happens is because localities of the networks are slightly different, the way information flow, like it can be like a small delay it can be how one actor is positioned, might have advantages of other actors in the same network and et cetera, extra.
But we what we see happening is that something that is true on the local level cannot be true necessary on the general level of the. So something that is interesting with globalized markets and like especially US based companies that tend to be like everywhere they cannot get to the localities quite well.
Like it, it’s impossible for them to be good everywhere at the same time in the same way, right? And something that you find really interesting is when you look at infrastructures and like topography of the US landscape in terms of markets, in terms of transportation modes and stuff like that.
And you take Uber again and you say, okay, now I look at the disposition. of the US as a transportation model, and you realize that they have a poor network in terms of public transportation like they have other reliance on cars and stuff like that. And you might agree or not if it’s a good thing or, but I think it’s not really the point, right?
And you take Europe, for instance, where things are quite different in terms of disposition, and you say, okay, they might be succeeding on some aspects which are similar, but until, or unless they do things that are really specific to the locality. , they cannot succeed in the same way that they are succeeding in big cities in the US because you have no real equivalent of those big cities in Europe.
They don’t exist. Like they, you have big cities in Europe. I’m not saying the contrary. That’s the way they work the way they are layouts and the way Yeah, they, the, all the networks of transportations and people too, their behaviors, the futures and stuff like that Yeah. Are really different.
Like our emphasis on worker conditions is something that is. Not unique, but typical of European markets in general. Like we have another compared to us, we have more rules that regulates how workers interact with employers and stuff like that than the US markets. We don’t consider workers the same way than us, the US markets in general, right?
Where it’s normal to, it’s potentially normal to have seven different jobs for one person in the US to be able to just live properly, right? It’s not in most European places, right? You get one full-time job and sometimes two, but it’s really the case that you have 4, 3, 4 different jobs, right?
I’m not saying it’s not personal, but it’s more rare and stuff like that. So when you take all that, those aspects and you see how they tend to. To constrain how businesses works in the US and how they succeed on global markets, right? The condition that makes them suc uh, successful. And you take them at a local level I dunno.
Some places in the UK you can see how they can fail way more easily than they were successful in the US mindsets you could say, okay, now if I want to compete against Uber, I can do it much more easily because my understanding of this local level is way better than what they can have as an understanding how this local level works, what kind of needs you need to emphasize on and create some kind of solution that’s, that highlights those specific needs.
Stuff like that, that Uber just don’t care because they cannot afford to do it. Like for each locality. Yeah. So this is something that you, that is helpful to understand because the fact that they try to it’s the same also, it’s interesting to say, okay, the fact that they exist and they function the way they function and that they have the issues that they have signals how the market needs to reposition itself in order to compete against that, right?
So if it’s not you, I’m not speaking of. An individual entrepreneur deciding on Yeah, sure. I’m speaking of general behavior of of the markets, right? How it’ll respond. You can wait and see something happens that will be likely more in that direction and less likely in that direction, right?
This is where like prediction are the best. It’s like they give you a direction, just not saying like exactly how things were informed, right? Because it’s impossible, but say, okay it’s more likely to go in that direction and it, and usually you see that kind of things happen just. If you take really the aspects of different markets, how they respond, what kind of things they value more you can make these kind of predictions, right?
And it can be helpful as a designer to, to say, okay, now I’m trying to understand this kind of infrastructure, things that will help me understand now what kind of behaviors the it drives from a business perspective for a design, from a design perspective and also for a cultural perspective, right?
And now say, what if I were doing the same thing but in a different space where those kind of rules don’t apply, right? And you could say, okay, I, now I can design an alternative hub that works better in, in the uk, for instance, right? It’s a kind of thought experiment that is interesting. As a strategic designer because it gives you opportunities to try out your ideas, your understanding, and test if it actually makes sense to go in that direction or not. And you can just ditch the thing if it makes no sense. But it’s an interesting way to, to to approach innovation. Do you feel like the you I guess would be, would it be fair to say that thought experiments like that is the way to develop it?
I can foresee immediately that, a lot of maybe whoever is listening and they’re thinking, okay, that’s, that, that’s it. But is this the only way you can become strategic, the only way, I’m not . No, I won’t be like that. . That’s I’m too much Swiss right now to, too close to the naturality to say any extreme things about like things are absolutely. Or not. Absolutely. No. No. Just kidding. That’s no. Is it the only way? I don’t know. I, like right now, right off top of my head I don’t have a, anything that else that comes to mind, but I would, no, it’s not the only, it’s not the only way to, I’m not saying it’s the only way to, it’s a start, right?
But it’s an interesting way to, because as soon as you say it’s a thought experiment and you don’t care that much if the things survive, but you are more interested in what happens when you try it, then you get less attached to the idea that’s attached to. To, to what it is actually and more attached to the effects that it has on people.
Right on, on your local market, for instance, and stuff like that. And this is where you have more chances, you increase your chances to learn something that is useful. , because something that is interesting in terms of, we were discussing about exploration and exploration. What is interesting in that is you need one thing for exploration is curiosity beyond many other things.
Like you need a lot of things, but curiosity is one interesting driver, right? Because you want to understand, like you want to go a bit further, a bit deeper, a bit wider at the same time, right? And it brings unexpected learnings. Like you don’t know prior to that you needed that to achieve what you were tr potentially are trying to achieve, right?
So there’s something that is. What we call the unknown unknowns, right? You don’t know it yet, but once you d know what you don’t know. Yeah. But once you have it, you say, okay, this is exactly what I needed to unlock something, and then now you feel like you, you see a path, right?
And this is something interesting it’s not, you cannot really predict and force it, really. You have to be just curious. And sometimes you see something and you say, okay, now this is one way that I find really interesting that we could explore, right? And remain open for that.
And it’s where it’s interesting to, like it’s open-ended, it’s open. Yeah. It’s and Curity helps a lot in that direction. How would it apply for I’m thinking, it’s also like I would have left by way to hear all of this, some years back, especially when I wanted, I was so frustrated back in the day and I remember clearly of just not knowing how to do this.
I guess in the current challenges or current workplace I wonder if you have if you have maybe some thought of like, how would any other designer could do this? Because it sounds like a lot of that is like the curiosity exploration. Like people just need to go out there and need to, you need to almost do extra.
Effort of informing themselves, of researching, of digging deeper, things of that nature. But I feel like a lot of people could also get it in existing workplaces or existing challenges. Is there like a good medium maybe? What are your thoughts on that? So I would say, first of all, it’s not an efficient process, , because there’s no efficiency in it.
It’s a slow process. You need time to think and time to read and time to digest and write down ideas and, make connections and say, okay, now in fact it was not a good idea. It’s not, it was not a good connection and stuff like, . So you need time. So this is actually something that I feel informs on the side of work.
So it requires passion, outside of that , I take my spare time animating communities writing about what I’m doing. So I have this opportunity, like I feel like it’s also a privilege. I don’t see a one like anybody is able necessarily to take that time. I have this privilege and I’m really Thank you, thankful of having this privilege, of taking that time to think about those things.
The difficult part is to bring that back to the workplace because , like anything coming outside of the workplace is, necessity taken with Yeah. With it’s not necessarily defiance, with yeah. Apprehension because it’s outside of the current context.
But even then, so sorry. Yeah. I feel like it’s, if I could add one thing, it’s, to me it’s a bit of about the repetitions and habits in a way. maybe of touches that ontology of design where. You like, the things you tend to do, become part of how you approach a lot of other things In a way, yes.
And may, I’m sure maybe it resonates as well with you, but I feel like then. When people tend to even spend an extra few like to me it’s like for strategy, you’d need to be unburdened in a way, , where I feel like, especially at maybe design leadership roles or maybe more senior roles, you realize that, where you just need to slow down to speed up.
Yes. And a lot of people who are in Van Nitty gritty, and they’re so busy, they’re focused there, they look at the leaders or managers. And we think that managers don’t do much . But it’s almost like a part of the work, the necessity to reflect, to look deeper, to do research, to look into like the most boring things like, reading white papers or looking at regulations or policies.
Oh, nobody’s gonna, the coffee machine. And discussing with people. Yeah. Like in a really informal way. just sometimes unlocks a lot of things, like it’s, yeah. I think what we are discussing right now is a serendipity, right? It’s , the way things like that are totally unrelated or apparently totally unrelated, seems to connect themself together and helps you like in a next unexpected way.
I call them like happy accidents, . And, but for connection you have to have something, right? Like to me, you need enough inputs for it to, at some point to click, right? Yeah, I agree. I agree. You need inputs and you need a way to articulate things. Like for me I hate writing, actually.
This is something I really hate to do, but I do it anyway because it forces me to articulate my thoughts. To draw out connections to, ex makes them more explicit and why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Like I might be wrong in the way I feel about something, but it’s nonetheless existing and I need to, I need to not necessarily unpack it, but make it a bit more stress put words on it so it’s clearer.
Wh why, the reason why I am feeling this way, I feel like really egocentric right now. But we, nothing, even our thoughts are happening in the vacuum, right? It’s we are always influencing whatever we are reading and then applying and stuff like that is, we are using that through us.
So by necessity we’re influencing it. So having like a. I would not say like mindful way of doing things, but at least, in the, being in that process of writing stuff or drawing stuff I like to draw a lot. I wanted, back in the days I wanted to be an administrator, so I come from a bit more artistic field.
And then I moved in, in architecture where I learned how to do way more strict, structured things, so it’s an interesting balance and you need both. I feel like you need both ways, like one that is really unstructured, that give you those, those inputs via inputs.
And then you need some kind of structure. It can be an organic one that comes with the process of trying to make sense of them, suddenly some kind of structure emerged from that. Or it can be like a structured process that helps you make sense of some things. I don’t have like personal prefer preferences, but you don’t achieve exactly the same kind of outcomes with different method.
Yeah. But the main point is about activities that helps you articulate ideas and then helps you make sense of them. And I also love discussions because I feel like having someone that have different perspectives about the same topic, responding to you is a really good way to make sense of what you think, as well. Yeah. And the other person is making sense of what. , this person is thinking, and this exchange creates something in the, in the middle is a, like a medium where something happens in the middle that is interesting, that it’s a combination of the two perspective and you can take out what is useful to you Yeah.
Out of that. And have, change your perspective, achieve new things. I feel like we, we are touching upon the topic of meta design. To me, this is things that comes from meta design strategy is very meta, right? Yes. It is it’s unavoidable to even touch it. And it’s to me, as you were describing this is exactly that.
For example, why I started a podcast is precisely that is to learn. Is to challenge my own ideas because my, my approach and my experiences shape what what I am or how I look at things. And yours as well overlaps. can just it’s almost like the exposure to different ideas is almost unavoidable.
Especially if you want to develop your strategic self in a way. Yes. And also the impact the conversations have is absolutely insane. And I of keep realizing and coming to that, but sometimes a chat with a stakeholder with a boss might not go that well, but then you realize that after sometimes you see the behaviors of them doing certainly better or certainly like just one chat Yeah.
Here and there about let’s do this, let’s do that. Couldn’t, end up being the actual thing you desire down the road. Interesting. And it it, I remember something that happened that is interesting to a concept in, in, in product design, which is appropriation and.
So the ideal design, the one that succeed, is the one that actually the users appropriate, right? So it becomes their part of their ways of doing, right? And it comes the same way with discussions and language. So I’m using words that’s you are using different words to express the same ideas, right?
We are not coming with the same language about things. We can understand each other, but something interesting happens when we find this point of career. And I was discussing before is that you will borrow part of my language and I will borrow part of yours, right? This thing in the middle we took part of it and we made it our own in some way.
So I remember like sometimes back now, it’s three years ago doing a workshop on. Laying out a a vision for a team of compliance officers that never did this kind of exercise. And to ma to me, it was like a terrible experience. Like it was, the end result was not good. Really not good. We couldn’t do anything with that, with the response.
And, I said to one of the the team, the manager of the team, which was the leader on the project, I said to him like, yeah, I’m sorry. This was a sh like really a shitty exercise. And then the result is just a mess and blah, blah, blah. And he said no, that was not that bad. They didn’t realize this and they did that, and blah, blah, blah.
Yeah. And one week after that, I met one of the guy from the team and just discussing about something, using the language we used during the workshop, . And I just realized That’s exactly right. Yeah. , they get, okay. The end result is that, and we didn’t use it, but the, but it changed something.
Anyway, that’s ended up making something way more useful that if we didn’t do, if we hadn’t do this workshop in the first place. So it’s not a big deal at the time. I took it like, okay, it’s the second or third time I did, I do workshop and it, cuz it doesn’t go in the direction I wanted to go.
I was like feeling a bit, bad about maybe it’s me, I’m not, animating those workshops in a good way. And, and I just realized after that okay, it’s not a big deal because now we can discuss, now we unlock something that it makes sense to them. When I discuss about those topics and now we know we are in a position where things can work way better.
We can work together in a better way. Yeah. It’s a it’s fuzzy. I don’t exactly know what happens. And I don’t really care. I don’t want an explicitly explanation about what happened, but I find interesting and must it’s must have been a case when you realize that a conversation or something you did with others had an impact on them.
Is that the boring part of what happens? And using them, using those parts? in their way. But you can relate to it. We say, okay they are saying that because we did that together. They’re using this word and I know they, they were not choosing it before, so it might be when we discuss together or whatever.
And I find it interesting, like it’s a good example of but especially, and it’s, yeah. And it’s surprising how we also tend to overlook all of that because it doesn’t feel right in the moment. And maybe you don’t even have a chance to reflect and say, the knock on effect down the road was vad.
But it certainly is there. It’s to be it’s big part of a strategic toolkit is relationships you make. Yes, it’s probably the most important. I don’t know how you feel, but especially it’s very, especially very hard to tell if you’re doing well in the moment, but in reflection, to me it’s like all those people you engage with and work with are the wants, which actually help you get what you want happen, , I know we’re touching that, like the persuasive element of that. Is it ethical to try to convince people or get on a journey, but besides the point of good or Revo is like the people you need allies, to simplify, yeah. Yeah. I agree. I agree. No I feel like the ethical part is the active process of wanting to change people is where the, unethical aspect is.
Mainly remains, right? But the fact is, the fact that we interact with people in the way we do, we are creating something together and it’s influencing them because of what is happening, right? So it’s not that we have a direct influence of on them. have control. I, I make that happen and now they believe in me and blah, blah, blah.
Okay? It’s not that kind of way of framing it is we did something together to go in that direction and, okay, the outcome was not what I expected, but it changed something about how they perceive this subject and how they talk about it and what they not, they are now willing to try because of that prior experience, right?
. So, For instance I came in a bank where they had no designer prior to me. We found an oppo, I found an opportunity discussing with one of the stakeholders. One of the product managers on the business side like we were like not coming from the same words, not using the same language, but we found each other in a place where we agreed on trying something and he did the heavy lifting, like convincing the others to just let me sometime okay, three hours in the morning, blah, blah, blah.
And we tried an exercise together and people were blown away by the outcome, which was like pretty basic things like in the end, right? . . But the impact of the, of these basic things were so huge as a change for what we are tr what, for what we were trying to achieve, actually that it changed completely the way the perceive design, how we could work together, what it means to, just to design a product.
Like you have to imagine like people coming from, compliance or I don’t know, what, becoming by accident product owners and having to handle products for other people that like them with the, the basic assumptions that because they know the business, therefore they are the best place to position to, to serve them probably, which is in most cases, like a contra false assumption.
like it’s a contra because. because they know so much about something that they don’t perceive. All the small details they have, like their strong vision, and then you arrive and you just disrupt that. But in a way where everyone benefits from it is, I feel like, is more satisfying than the products we created themselves.
In a sense. Yeah, definitely. So I totally agree with you. Like it’s how we engage with people, the fact that we need others to succeed. Not because our products succeeded, actually, but because we created something together. And even if it fails, like for me, the successful part is that we, like we fight against all.
So I dunno what together and we find come right way. Yeah. And we find a way to, to achieve. Is the successful part to me. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome, is there a central place where we could direct people to find more about you or engage with you? Yeah, sure. So you can find me on LinkedIn, Kevin re chat and also have a website which is basically giving Richard ch where you can find stuff I’m writing about.
Yeah. Awesome. Amazing. Thank you so much, Kevin. Thank you. Thank you very much