Core Principle: Planning
Planning is a wonderful thing because it basically gives you control over the circumstances when you make a list you begin to kind of grasp all the aspects of what's going to be involved um it makes making a list makes you think of things that you haven't thought of before and I think in my research I read that we can really only hold three things in our frontal lobe at a time I don't know if that's true or not but that's true of me and s o making a list which allows you to have more than three things on the list is a great advantage it gives you control over the context of what you're thinking about doing so planning is essential and it basically had put you in control so the first thing that we want to know is what to learn you know how to do the kind of inquiry that we need to do and what kind of inquiry to do and how to use our intuitions to search for what it is to put on that little list and then simply watching listening and at and asking you know, that's what we were doing in t...
he video in the last segment without for group is we were being we were able to kind of think why would they why would they beat around the bush like that? Why wouldn't they come right out and address the issue but gave them a chance all of that all sixteen members from three from each come from each organization. It gave them a chance to kind of get a sense of how the others were behaving and why they were behaving the way they were behaving, watching, listening, asking a few questions, kind of being a little bit around beating around the bush had been to let some time go by so we can observe each other and think about what should be on that list, if you will. They're going to talk about someone asked me earlier, when is it that you get to pounding on the table? When do you used in a militia colonel outburst and when not on? Of course it's always dangerous, because you have no idea what the results going to be, it could go extremely badly and sometimes does we will have today we will have a little short video of an aggressive outburst where in which an aggressive clothes of ah, of a piece of business is done, and I think you'll find that very interesting. And then david conrad is going to join us, and we're going to talk a little bit about planning and how he got started and the world that he that his business lives in, which is the design of of online products and interfaces and user experiences, so that's what's gonna happen and the key principle planning is key to understanding key principle core principle planning is key to understanding. So the first thing that we need to know when we're planning is what to plan for and the thing I've always looked for is changes and drivers what is changing that's causing this client to ask me to do this project what has changed in their world and then what's driving that change that's what I'm always looking for why this project at this time what's going on now? And why is it going on? And so then I immediately look for what's happening with the people is the chief executive officer knew or has he been there a long time? Are there new products and services or are they have those not changed? Has competition changed? Er has technology changed? Have government regulations come along and change the fundamentals of their business? What what's going on that has that has changed the context for that organization and and driven guided them to having us come in and do a project for them on we look for press coverage, we look for press releases. We look online to see what's going on we way look at the way the organization the client organization is viewed in the marketplace and way do it with the sense of of what's going on right now and then we want to know why we were selected to be a part of this and why now and then who else is involved and the reason we want to know who, why, who else is involved? Who is our competition is not just because way have ah, sense of what we might do or change our approach because of the competitive environment, but because that gives us a sense of how the client thinks about us because we've been included in this group of competitors versus that group of competitors. So the sense of of if it's this organization, that organization and us that means something different than if it's a different group of competitors. So it gives us a sense of the way the client thinks about us, but we're primarily looking for this. You know, the client organization has some kind of history behind it, whether it's long or short things have happened over time that have shaped that organization in the world, you know, boeing or or microsoft or netscape or whoever it is, they've all gone through some stuff transitions that brought him up to this point. And so we kind of want to know about that history we really want to know is it's what's affecting them right now, what's causing change to happen right now. So all my planning is always focused on on the here and now and that what the drivers of change are and then I build I build our our rationale for the approach to the piece of business based on that understanding of how the what the context is for that moment so david conrad is going to join us david do you want I love this photo of david and he just got a representation of your real day today there he just confessed to me that it was a horrible moment and he was having a horrible phone call and someone in his office took a shot of him and there he was exposed and somehow it got out on the internet instead of them getting on the phone to help out they took a picture of me instead of getting on the phone and yeah so there's a little contention there with all right all right we're not gonna talk about that design commission is a digital product design firm with a passion for crafting engaging user experiences intuitive interfaces and beautiful visual design for web based companies edited from your pulled out of a sentence from your website helpful yeah it's a mouthful yeah so tell us a little bit about that david well um we're a digital product design from with passion wei have a small firm here in seattle it's eight people on dh were that we'll be turning ten in august so and it's been a ride but we're you know we're very interested in in sort of that the intersect intersection between the human and the computer and how we go about designing systems that moderate that um and so a lot of our work is really focused on how do we take some some sort of products and piece of functionality task and make that, um easy if not enjoyable for people tio I think when we had coffee we talked about how you got started how you early in your life what the influences were that sort of led you to this career yeah, yeah I so I grew up spending most of my time on the board of one kind or another skateboard or snowboard and um, you know, growing up in that culture you've become very think attuned tio tio design in some in some regard, you know, there's always this sense of like a new graphic coming out o r you know, the magazine culture is huge there and so you know, your constant looking at ads and layouts and photography and things like that and I was never really directly conscious of like the designers role and that whole economy but but the impact of it was something that I that I sort of internalized I think, um and, you know, in fact it wasn't until I was in college I was studying uh communication and media theory I think I've chosen a major because they that was where I could uh that was where I could sort of train to become a video producer which meant I could continue to snowboard and skateboard when I was going to make snowboarding in skateboarding movies it's a great reason to choose how major I suppose um anyway I was you know I was in college and my mom dragged me up to the international design conference and aspen was in nineteen ninety five um I think partly because she had a sense that that somewhere inside of me was it was a designer and I still it was kind of floundering around a bit with what I have what I wanted to be when I when I grew up um and you know and so it was after that conference I think that that the light ball really came on in terms of what design wass and that that was something that you could be and it really resonated with me I could be a designer is what came out of I mean, up until then everything was sort of divided up into these kind of professional craft based rolls you know, you took pictures or you made movies or you wrote things but that this idea that somebody exists to sort of bring all that stuff together to synthesise that was wasn't something that I was very acutely aware right what inspired your mother to send you to that conference I you know I don't know um and unfortunately she she died about six months after we went and I never had a chance to really ask her about it but you know I think on some level she suspected that my um inability to focus on any one thing was maybe an an indicator that um does it was it was a good profession and uh you know I think I she probably saw me an interest in in sort of creativity in the arts but also saw that I was you know it was never going to be a uh world renowned artist or that's right your mother was involved in the arts which yes you're in a uh community arts organization so I was fortunate to grow up around that environment and here in a gallery and things like that on dh that was you know I think that was really interesting for me and it was something that really activated me um but I you know I couldn't and still can't draw you know to save my life and I think she saw that this was the design was sort of a ha ha kid can't send him to design school cool yeah my guess is you guys do a lot of planning do you business way have a very organic planning process I think um you know I think that you know for us are the structure of our business is is such that we don't have a a planning management layer in our process essentially um and the idea came about you know fairly recently we've had project managers in the studio up until about a year about a year year and a half ago many um and there was a sense that the kinds of clients that were working with which are primarily startup organizations are small lean lean operations were weren't necessarily was getting the benefit of having a very rigid kind of project management planning process in place and so we made the decision to shift to this model where the expectation is that the designer and the creative team that's working with the client are directly accountable for managing kind of scheduling deliverables and things like that um and it works to varying degrees of success I think it it does require a lot of communication which certainly we can do a better job of I think like anybody um but what I like about it is that it it does give everybody a very interesting, very sort of deep level of insight into what the stakes in the project are everybody's involved in everybody's involved um and in situations where we have for example a designer working on something that doesn't have exposure to that now it turns into a train wreck pretty quickly because they've all learned they need to have that level of contacting accountability and uh but but if you're doing uh if you're creating things that people have to use online there is in underlying planning that goes into determining how people are going to choose to do this or to do that absolutely yeah absolutely I mean understanding for the products that we work on designers is only one third of that of that puzzle there's there obviously technology requirements that factor and very heavily into the work that we dio on their business requirements that factor into that that that we have to be aware of and kind of incorporate into the way that we're going about thinking about things that were doing and you know, in cases where we're not we're not planning it can have pretty disastrous consequences you know in the end and that sometimes if if we're not planning enough or you're not thinking through it in the right way the end result is something that can't be built or can be built but just nobody will ever use it so there's there's a fair amount of that when you look at the work that you've done over the last twenty years this has been designed commissions and mission started in two thousand for two thousand four so we've got ten years yeah yeah yeah when you look back at the ten years uh can you think of a particular project that you've done that has been extremely successful and wind we've had a number of of clients that we've built product for design product for that have had successful acquisitions just sold the blackberry a couple of others have had more confidential acquisitions on guy I believe that our our contribution there, you know, in those cases played at least some, you know, some significant role in those acquisitions I think that because you designed the interface for the product and write product was acquired yeah, yeah, absolutely and sometimes those acquisitions happen for, you know, prisons that have absolutely nothing to do with the design their day with the management team, were they with the technology that's driving out whatever, but even in those situations, the fact that we were able to put something together that got out of the marketplace and was able to get enough recognition that that the company was able to sort of find the exit that they that they found to me tells me that in the situations we're doing something right and, uh so give me an example of a project that you've done and in interface, I guess that, uh, that has been successful with the people who use it and how, how, how, how you how you know, what is it? What did it do? Yeah, yeah, well, I think you know, I don't want to turn turn it into a design commission portfolio show but I just want to get a context for the easily, so, you know, one example of it is is a product that's an ipad application called haiku deck, and kodak is essentially the antithesis of power point in that, um, you want to tell your story with the presentation to people, but you you don't want to get mired in bullet points and created backgrounds and things like that. So the tool designed in such a way of preserving number it's a presentation tool and and the key differentiator with it first, something like power point is that there's a very high amount of constraint in what you can do with the product in the you only get a couple of layouts that you can use, not example, you can't move the headline, you know, two pixels down and three pixels over on dh in doing that is long is the output is is well designed. That theory is, and I think that the custom responses is accordingly agreeing that we can make the process easier and faster for you to put put a presentation together to tell a story in an elegant way that actually it takes less time and in the end is more effective than telling that story than a situation where you spend a lot more time. So you know it's an example of thinking through how like in hye codex case like the client came to us with a very well kind of thought through philosophy behind how the park works and why it was valuable and so you know we spend a fair amount of time thinking about how do we how we craft the interface for it how we craft a sort of brand for it in such a way that it resonates with people yeah cool so another interesting aspect of your career has been creative mornings you are the founder of the seattle chapter is that correct of that's creative mornings that's correct a lot of creative going on we have a creative live and created more mornings and every month you are on stage up introducing and the month speaker it's true and in fact I was a speaker a couple years ago absolutely on thank you created mornings thank you it was a great pleasure and your draw significant audience you filled a little theater at uh at the e m p yeah yeah yeah it's been it's been great we've been really fortunate to have a fantastic support network for it here in seattle um we have sponsors that stepped up from the day we announced that they're going to start doing it here um and and we've had venue and video support for you know for every event since we started it'll berth three years in october and uh the creative mornings has been a global explosion eighty five chapters have a fifteen countries remarkable yeah tina's done a fantastic job of growing the organization finding the right people that can help her run it right and we've been really really fortunate what do you attribute the success of of creative mornings too you know why has it caught the imagination of people? Well, there are a couple things about it that I think help it be successful one is that it's a it's a pretty simple idea at its core which is a twenty minute talk one friday morning a month with breakfast and coffee um and by keeping what it what it is does and what it promises it's its audience and our community is by keeping that simple people understand it and there's they don't have to sort of reconcile like what what should I expect and going into this thing and the fear of the unknown is from taking away um e think also it's you know, we've heard all that we've got a lot of really great feedback about people being able to sort of make connections at the events you know everything from people finding jobs to people needing employees teo uh designers finding clients and and so it's it's been a good weight it's sort of for people to connect with one another on dh that's been you know, I think really great to see as well, you know, the other thing that gets the final thing, we've tried to dio that that you see and every individual chapters is curating the speaker panels in such a way that there's a permanent diversity so it's not just a designer, right designer designer, and we bring in people that are talking about video film and, um, you know, we have a music music, yeah, charles morrison came in, was a professor here in seattle, came and spoke about his letter writing his personal letter writing practice and those kind of personal stories that come from a really wide range of of backgrounds I think is really interesting people, so the, uh, expertise of creative mornings is extremely well defined, so the end so the audience and this is something to think about as if you're creative and you're got to virtuous cycle working and you're sending messages to the universe on hoping for a reply, you want the clarity of what you do to be absolute, and one of the great beauties of creative mornings is it is absolutely clear what the experience is going to be like, and so the the content can be completely different one day it's an actor or a writer and next day, it's uh, you know, someone is the designer or has some other expertise or experience, but the context of the overall of it is the same and the relationship between these units all around the world is very, very clear and so the audience knows what to expect and that's a very important part of defining your expertise is that you want you want people to tio have a way of thinking about you with real clarity actually yeah, and you mentioned, you know, this idea of kind of planning and how that factors into industry, what I, what I do and how I spend my time and creative morning wouldn't happen without a pretty structure planning process and every month we go through the same kind of checklist of stuff in order to make it check what happened and you know, if it's it's entirely volunteer staffed and run and if that if we weren't able t use sort of planning to make that process and efficient one there's no way it would it would happen not only here but anywhere else. I think so it's really critical. So is that planning process across uh creative mornings the same in every chapter now and that's one of things that's, that's a little bit of the miracle of creative mornings, I think is that they give us some very high level guidelines oversights from global level almost a sort of brand guide, if you will and every chapter runs runs their events differently on dh some chapters have volunteer staffs of fifteen to twenty people you know, here in seattle we have four or five on hand you know it's you know chapters have some chapters have like formal nonprofits set up to sort of managed everything everything for us is it done in kindness and gently and so it's very different from from save the city and its and yet and yet it happens cell seems to work and I think you know, what that tells me is if you give people a clear charter you give people a clear clarity um that and then you've let them and the responsibility and the sort of ownership to make the decisions to achieve that outcome people can do pretty amazing things in very different ways on still get to the same end point you find yourself negotiating with the people who have to who are donating their time over what they're going to dio are whether they're available or not yeah absolutely and that's it's a really tones with volunteers because you nobody owes you anything right and on that can you have no leverage? You have absolutely no leverage um and I guess a certain hundred the leverage that you have is that if if a volunteer fails you, the leverage that you have is that you don't ask them to do it again um and if it's important to them that's that's something that's value so there's always leverage if if it's not important to them then you don't have a leverage but it doesn't matter anyway because their relationship is done right cool well that's very interesting stuff david questions if you don't mind here in the room okay, I'll go ahead and go vien va question for a ted ordinated how do you effectively keep everyone involved what's your communication process and how do you hold everyone accountable to the information in tasks that you plan out then in a similar vein how do you make sure everyone remains inspired because that's a huge part of the creative process, right? So in the studio we relied to some extent on software to help with accountability like accountability is a real challenge um in that's you know it's it's one thing teo sort of ask somebody to do something and assume we're trust that it will get done but at some point you you need to sort of know when it's been done whether that's it's something that triggers uh billing cycle are or the next step in the process or whatever and so to some extent we rely on software to help us keep track of those kinds of things you know you put a task in the system when the task it's checked off, you know and you can kind of other things certainly a lot of communication is is really critical to to the way that we run things on dh for better for worse we're still very much an email based organization um and so it means there's a there's a lot of email three but we need time to sort of do a pretty good job of communicating in that regard um there was a second question about staying inspired yeah how do you have everyone on the team inspired and excited about the plan um that's it it's hard to do I think partly because people find inspiration in their own unique and individual ways to some extent we try and give people space that they need to sort of take the time to get inspired on dh you know at the end of the day like were not terribly interested in in baby sitting employees right we want people to come in and get their work done and be responsible for the things that that they've been tasked to do but beyond that I want people to take time to find something you know, other things that keep them motivated and also making point of uh trying to do things as a studio so you know, we recently closed the studio down and took everyone teo conference for a couple days and you know we'll try and do an offsite event annually where we take people teo you know off to the coast to spend a couple days kind of getting away and doing stuff so um those kind of things are important and I think beyond that you just try and encourages much communication and sharing it's possible um at the end of the day like people are to some extent responsible for for doing that you know on their own you can't make people be inspired way hope people you have the energy and the desire to do that and just a brief one if you're ok sharing the snowcat is wondering what software you do yeah you use for accountability we is a sauna right now and I don't love it but it's uh it seems to fit the bill so yeah it's good I just have a quick offshoot question growing up what was your favorite snowboarding magazine uh okay uh you know I know like transworld always had two good shots but they're kind of commercial rights no border was like actually blunt because I think ken block publication that was good are you still snowboarding now I have kids and bad knees now the kids will snowboard yeah, we think he took ali uh five took him to the wedding the first time this year they like the hot chocolate at the end of the lesson I think probably more than it's a start we'll get there yeah, cool so we have a lot of photographers will watch this program and we're wondering if you happen to work with any on if you have any recommendations for how they can work with their negotiations with you and how best to present to you how you find them. Yeah, well, so because we're a small studio and and a lot of the work that we do is interface design, that there's not a lot of photography, that we're interacting with tea to some extent when we do. In fact, when I was leaving the studio this morning, my business fighter was on the phone with a client. I'm talking about photography for their for their project, and, um, what works best for us typically is we like to facilitate a connection between the client and the photographer and not moderate that process, but there's not a lot of value, and us owning that the management of that right now we stay involved in terms of career direction and helping them understand what we're look, what we're looking for. But then from that point on it for us, it's a lot better if the photographer can can work with clients. Alright, thank you very much. That was appreciated. Appreciate it, theo.