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Designers Are From Mars, Engineers Are From Venus

There was Cain and Abel. The Hatfields and the McCoys. The Red Sox and the Yankees. The tale of supposed incompatible people is a tale as old as time. In the modern world of business and commerce, the common issue of creative designers and development engineers struggling to see eye-to-eye is a problem that can grind projects and businesses to a halt.

The reality is that both groups need each other so why can't they just get along? Jack Cole, Director of Design, will serve as session mediator, walking you through his experiences in finding pathways to commonality that allow for growth, discovery, and innovative solutions.

Key Takeaways:
• A better understanding of how to communicate effectively with team members of all disciplines
• Learning best practices that will help facilitate more project collaboration
• Further debunking the myth of left-brain and right-brain thinkers

Transcript from NYCDA & MotivateDesign U/X Lecture Series July 20, 2015 "Designers Are From Mars, Engineers Are From Venus" Jack Cole - Design Director

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Designers Are From Mars, Engineers Are From Venus

  1. / Page 1 D E S I G N E R S A R E F R O M M A R S E N G I N E E R S A R E F R O M V E N U S Jack Cole - Design Director // July 20, 2015
  2. / Page 2 Motivate Design is a UX-led design and innovation firm based in New York City. We’lltranslateyourbrandconceptintoengagingcustomerexperiences that create value at every touch point.
  3. / Page 3 ABOUT ME • 16 years as a user experience and design professional • Over 10 years working within multi-disciplinary in-house design and development organizations • Addicted to the “rush” of creative problem solving within a team environment • Loves being a part of something bigger than myself W h a s s u p ?
  4. / Page 4 T O N I G H T ’ S T O P I C So... What’s the Deal with the Cheesy Title?
  5. / Page 5 • Written by John Gray in 1993 • Sold more than 50 million copies • “Highest ranked work of non-fiction” of the 1990s (CNN) • Spent 121 weeks on the bestseller list I ’ M S O R R Y But Cheesy Titles Sell I cover all of the basics to make any relationship easier, to make any relationship more successful and to improve communications so that you can get what you want in a relationship. - J O H N G R AY, P H . D , A U T H O R
  6. / Page 6 T H E P R O B L E M Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
  7. / Page 7 P R O B L E M S P A C E Defining the Issue B U T. . .O P P O R T U N I T Y At their best, Designers and Development Engineers can come together in order to do amazing things. Many from the two disciplines don’t see eye-to-eye causing friction and unnecessary road- blocks that can prevent success.
  8. / Page 8 N O T A N E W T O P I C Just Google It... 6 E A S Y S T E P SH A P P I N E S S & M A G I C I T J U S T M A K E S S E N S E When designers and developers work together, they can make magic happen. - J O H N B O T I C A W E B D E V E L O P E R , D I G I TA L T E L E PAT H Y ...designers and developers should work together to create a more complete web project. - C A R R I E C O U S I N S D E S I G N M O D O If you trust the people you work with, you can focus on finishing your own tasks. - K Y L E F I E L D E R P R O D U C T D E S I G N E R / M A N A G I N G D I R E C T O R , T H O U G H T B O T
  9. / Page 9 K E E P I N ’ I T R E A L What Happens when Things Get Complicated? B U T. . . Many articles and interviews reference common best practices as primary advice to readers–great in principle but sometimes hard to do in real life SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE Familiarize yourself with the “lingo” and principles of your counterpart’s field of expertise EDUCATE Teach your counterpart the “basics” of your field of expertise CREATE TRUST Acknowledge and convey that “we’re all in it together” to form a bond and push towards success
  10. / Page 10 P E R S O N A L E X P E R I E N C E My Story of Partnering with Software Engineers
  11. / Page 11 PROJECT DESCRIPTION Multi-national public facing overhaul of digital footprint including: • Company-wide rebrand of visual identity • Fully-revamped CMS and support network • Redefined approach to content generation and distribution • Multi-platform global and regional layout structure and accompanying interaction library CHALLENGES • A dizzying array of stakeholders at all levels of the company with no one clear decision maker • Multiple teams (Marketing, IT/Dev, UX&D, Digital Services) at odds with global/ regional goals and objectives • Location, time zone and language, variances (New York, Princeton, San Francisco, London, Mumbai, Gurgaon) • Some teams unaccustomed to Agile Methodology S T O R Y O N E // B L A C K R O C K Follow the Sun (1 Project, 4 Time Zones)
  12. / Page 12 S T O R Y O N E // B L A C K R O C K What I Learned INTERPERSONAL SKILLS • Identification and alignment with primary development partners—proved crucial to any type of progress • Established a firm user experience and design presence within the project team to assure that development was not the only driver/decision maker related to identifying what was possible HOLISTIC STRATEGY • Consideration of both end user expectations as well as internal system and content managers • Voluntary involvement in multi-disciplinary planning meetings in an effort to understand C-Suite level business requirements, ask questions, and collaborate with developers to offer potential solutions FLEXIBILITY • Recognition of varied work schedules—fostered goodwill through holding meeting/ working sessions at times that were more than just conducive to the office where the UX team was located • Anticipated opportunities to over-deliver to assure clarity and consistency across a decentralized development team
  13. / Page 13 PROJECT DESCRIPTION Evolving the ease of use for investors to update profiles and preferences within TDA’s secure log-in environment: • Review and assess the current information architecture, functionality, and interactions • Incorporate the profiles and preferences user experience and infrastructure to be in line with other recently redesigned TDA domains • Connect user preference choices to CRM network to improve customer relationship responsiveness CHALLENGES • Multiple legacy back-end infrastructures in need of either sunsetting or a revamp in order to make UX improvements • Over-leveraged project managers causing potential lags in the progress of the effort • Development engineers traditionally accustomed to receiving requirements/ design concepts and building with little engagement with outside team members S T O R Y T W O // T D A M E R I T R A D E Saving a Seat at the Table
  14. / Page 14 S T O R Y T W O // T D A M E R I T R A D E What I Learned INCLUSION • Recognized issues with previous releases being the lack of knowledge share— pushed for development partners to be included in preliminary meetings (even when they didn’t want to be) • Established UX’s presence in the Dev department—made efforts to engage through general technology inquiries and visiting for impromptu brainstorm sessions INQUIRE TO EDUCATE • Actively engaged PMs and development to understand the back-end environment in order to challenge the team to consider non- traditional solutions • Readily recognized the collective wisdom of project team members—welcomed open dialogue around the design concepts presented TRANSPARENCY • Explanation of design thinking and approach in random discussions encouraged more sharing across teams • Over-documentation in wireframe specs aided in development paying closer attention to the user experience details • Honest estimation of UX deliverables was met with appreciation by all
  15. / Page 15 PROJECT DESCRIPTION Pharma client looking to innovate in the mental health space to improve medical adherence in patients: • Refocus patient-facing app usable for people dealing with cognitive issues • Incrementally improve functionality of existing app in development for review and approval from the FDA • Build understanding, empathy, and a viable strategy that considers the needs of all stakeholders involved in the use of the app-based system CHALLENGES • Previous efforts around project was entirely driven by development with user experience and design considered an afterthought resulting in a disjointed experience • Partnering development vendor was also previously responsible for design effort and was removed­from the project • Lack of clarity around FDA technical design filing regulations causing redundancies and inconsistencies in documentation, wasted time, effort, and general confusion resulting in difficult project meetings S T O R Y T H R E E // P H A R M A C L I E N T Keep Calm and Course Correct
  16. / Page 16 S T O R Y T H R E E // P H A R M A C L I E N T What I Learned CONFLICT RESOLUTION • Practiced professional decorum when meetings devolved from reviewing tasks to exchanging insults • Mined channels of agreement with vendor partners to press project objectives forward • Included development engineer leads in off-site conceptual workshops removing them from their normal working environment PERSPECTIVE & EMPATHY • Remained focused on “why we are here” related to the effort— improving the lives of patients struggling to “achieve their version of normal” • Recognized the frustration of vendor partners who were previously accustomed to working with in-house design team following a different design and development process ACCURACY • Paid close attention to unique documentation demands—designed a fluid design specification process accounting for change management requests • Clarified design concepts explicitly as possible— opened additional lines of communication for developers to receive immediate feedback on inquiries
  17. / Page 17 L I V E YO U R P R I N C I P L E S They Govern How You Think, Work, and Act
  18. / Page 18 L I V E Y O U R P R I N C I P L E S W E A L L D R I V E No carts and horses Collective ownership
  19. / Page 19 L I V E Y O U R P R I N C I P L E S Y E S , A N D . . . Build on each other Build on what we do Over-deliver
  20. / Page 20 L I V E Y O U R P R I N C I P L E S E X P L O R E , D E S I G N , R E F L E C T & R E F I N E Follow the process Live the mindset
  21. / Page 21 L I V E Y O U R P R I N C I P L E S D E L I V E R E XC E L L E N C E Substance Simplicity Sophistication Kick-ass solutions
  22. / Page 22 L I V E Y O U R P R I N C I P L E S G R O W T H T H R O U G H P O S I T I V E I N T E R A C T I O N S Planting not fishing No assholes
  23. / Page 23 A D V I C E F O R T H E R E A L W O R L D My Two Cents on Working Better with Team Members
  24. / Page 24 R E F R A M E Shameless Plug but it Works! Dig deeper into why you can’t do something. Usually, you can, you are just choosing not to. #REFRAME SHIFTING YOUR MINDSET Reframe your mindset and see problems not as annoying, insurmountable, irrefutable obstacles but as amazing, juicy, creative opportunities.
  25. / Page 25 J A C K ’ S K E Y T A K E A W A Y S Because We All Love Lists YOUR EGO IS NOT YOUR AMIGO Walking into an engagement where you think you’re the smartest person in the room is a bad start. Be nice and professional— always. ESTABLISH YOUR PROCESS Being clear and up front about how you work then identifying how team members operate sets expectations that don’t become surprises later on down the line. DEVELOPMENT IS PART OF THE DESIGN Considering what is possible at the outset is the starting point for where to challenge convention. ADAPT Be ready and willing to adjust the course of a project, plan, or relationship when things aren’t working. ASKING “WHAT IF” Engaging in collaborative ideation with multi- disciplinary team members can produce surprising results. LIVE THE DREAM Approaching any engagement as your next opportunity to do something amazing with a team of new people that you can share ideas from and leverage each other’s best attributes is the reason why we’re all here (or at least it should be) so make the most of it!
  26. / Page 26 T H A N K S A M I L L I O N

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