Posts tagged “AIGA”

Phoenix Design Summit: Facilitating for good

While we often have the chance to facilitate ideation and strategy sessions for our clients, I recently got to bring those skills to a different context. I had the fortune of facilitating for social good a few weeks ago at the Phoenix Design Summit, an extension of the AIGA Design For Good initiative focused on using design to ignite, accelerate and amplify social change. Previous summits have been held in Birmingham, Aspen, and Savannah.

The Phoenix summit was focused on three different areas that significantly impact our future (broadly) and youth (specifically): Education, Health & Wellness, and the Arts. Three teams of designers and local champions spent three days using design thinking to tackle these challenges. I worked with Team Activating Arts, eight volunteers including designers, arts advocates and conscious entrepreneurs.

On Day 1 all the teams took field trips to organizations and sites related to their topic. We visited three different Arts-focused organizations around the metro area including Free Arts of Arizona that provides healing art experiences to abused and homeless children, the Phoenix Center for the Arts which offers arts and theatre classes in a fantastic old building in central Phoenix, and the ASU Art Museum where we visited the Miracle Report exhibit and Emerge: Redesigning the Future.

The team captured observations, insights, questions, and passions on sticky notes as we debriefed on the visits and identified common strengths, challenges and opportunities for overlap. One idea present at every site we visited was a commitment to the incredible value of art making. Everyone we spoke to emphasized the process of art being just as important as the end product.

On Day 2 we reconvened and set out to make meaning of the mess and clarify the team’s vision: Wouldn’t it be sweet to create systems for Arizona Arts organizations to bring together their unique talents to create opportunities?

Of all three teams, ours clearly had an advantage in delivering a solution that truly modeled community engagement because we had a representative from the Phoenix Center for the Arts on our team. This truly made the difference in being able to create a plan with a champion who has the passion and means to implement it. As the team spent the second day brainstorming what kinds of problems they could solve, they were able to focus on activating alliances and engagement among various arts organizations and citizens with the help of our key stakeholder, Joseph. The end of the day brought convergence and a rapid Pecha Kucha-style presentation by each of the 3 teams about their progress so far. Team Activating Arts offered both long term strategies and short term tactics that were actionable for the local arts community.

Day 3 was all about action and implementation. A key element (and challenge) of the Summit was the concept of community engagement. While our creative team was overflowing with solutions, they understood that the outcome of the summit would be most valuable if it enabled the community to generate their own solutions (rather than a small group of designers determining what they should be). So the team devised a 3-part strategy for facilitating community engagement with Phoenix arts organization that is being spearheaded by Joseph, someone with the resources and passion to see it through.

Part 1: Organize a Phoenix Art Summit in October to engage the local Arts organizations and community (this summit will be hosted by Joseph and is modeled after the very summit we participated in!)

Part 2: Create an umbrella organization for all of the Arizona Arts organizations that allows them to share valuable resources and collaborate more efficiently (potential output of summit)

Part 3: Promote Everyday Art in Phoenix (the team went wild ideating dozens of specific activities for this initiative and even implemented a few of them for their final presentation)

By day’s end the team had created a summit agenda, a detailed “how to host your own summit” workbook and guide for Joseph to use in planning, and a Phoenix Art Summit website to collect information from interested individuals and organizations. In this way the team’s solution resonated with what we heard during our site visits, that the process of art making is just as important as the product. The Art summit is a process, a creative vehicle for generating outcomes that are meaningful and engaging to those they seek to impact, align, and serve.

 

I was extremely impressed with the team’s relentless creative efforts over the three days. I was also inspired as they committed to continuing to help Joseph in the future and being authentic participants in nurturing a cohesive arts community to support the youth of Phoenix and Arizona. If you are in the Phoenix area and in interested in the arts, please check out these organizations and sign up for summit announcements. And perhaps I will see you in Phoenix in October!

*for more eye candy and images of stickie notes, please visit the summit Flickr page here.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Shit Painted Gold – [Post-modern detachedly-ironic consumerism makes the brain work hard. We'll tell you these products are crap and that we've not added any value by changing the color, but we have transformed them nonetheless. So, we hope you'll be happy to pay a bit extra for them. Now, please exit through the gift shop.] Nothing looks fancier in your home, office or garbage than shit painted gold. these amazing one of a kind art pieces will legitimize your ability to say to people, "why yes, that shit IS gold" [Thanks, Jeannie Choe!]
  • [from julienorvaisas] What comes after One Day for Design? [AIGA] – [Along with many others, we participated and commented on the 1D4D experience. AIGA hints that they are analyzing conversations and data gathered that day to guide their very reinvention. Stay tuned…] On April 13, we reached out through the existing networks of several prolific tweeters who led exchanges on the future of design, the concerns of today’s designers and the opportunities for design communities…Together with our partners in this project, the independent branding collective VSA Partners, we are now synthesizing the comments and discussions generated through this event. We will share the results here as we summarize them and develop ways for AIGA to respond. In June, our national board and chapter leaders will review all of this research from the past year—including the results from “One Day”—and work with us to outline the next steps. This is the year that AIGA will pivot toward new forms of serving the profession and its members.
  • [from steve_portigal] Pink Tools for Women: Learn today, Teach tomorrow, Build forever. – [Had this one sitting around forever. Love the message of empowerment; I'm willing to buy the pink-as-brand and NOT pink-as-shallow-way-of-feminizing-design but what else are they doing (besides Tupperware business model) to make these products specifically for women?] Founded by three women deeply entrenched in do-it-yourself projects, Tomboy Tools was launched in 2000 as the dream-turned-reality of being able to provide women with hands-on education, high quality tools and a fun way to make a living from home. Our Mission Statement: To build confidence and empower women through education, quality tools and an independent business opportunity. Today, while our mission statement rings as true as ever, our slogan is shorter and more concise. Our slogan underscores the power of Tomboy Tools in the marketplace and the value we provide both to female customers seeking hands-on education with high quality tools and Home Consultants looking for a great career.
  • [from steve_portigal] Conversations With Bert: Andy Samberg [YouTube] – [As a fellow introvert, I recognize Bert's slight shift into a more deliberate and mannered "interview mode." While he's not quite Terry Gross (and has a way to go to do the type of interviewing that we do), this short clip is a good source for a number of interviewing techniques, mixing equally between "what to do" and "what not to do." I'll have to use this in my next workshop and ask people to make note of the ways that Bert is successful or unsuccessful as he asks open-ended questions, reveals his own perspectives, redirects the conversation, feeds back, acknowledges what Andy says, and asks follow-ups.] Sesame Street's Bert sits down with comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member, Andy Samberg, to talk about life, literature, cuisine and of course, socks.
  • [from julienorvaisas] Memories destroyed in a flash [The Independent] – [Nice discussion of pros and cons, and implications of the broad transition to digital photos. This cultural shift will have huge implications generationally.] Spend a few minutes watching a Facebook feed and you quickly see it is not just our viewing experience that has changed. The way we store and display our pictures has radically altered the nature and type of photograph we take. A high proportion of photos on social networking sites tend to be posed self-portraits, the telltale arm holding the camera often hoving into view at the side. The breadth and scope of the pictures we display has decreased. We've moved away from Sontag's idea of photos as being accessories to our memories, towards photos as a brag – a way of telling the world what fun we're having, and how good we look having it. "You can guess it's taken for the benefit of an audience: It's not necessarily better or worse – just different. It was never so much the case with your personal album."

Dwelling on One Day for Design

April 13th was the one day for One Day for Design (1D4D), an event conceived of by AIGA to “bring together a global community of designers and design enthusiasts to exchange ideas, challenge viewpoints and push boundaries in a real-time, online global debate” about the future of design, led by an impressive line-up of moderators.

What a fantastic notion! For our part, we were excited to be part of the conversation, and to see how AIGA pulled it off. When the day arrived we were ready. We dutifully signed onto the website and Twitter and TweetDeck, ready to talk design… and were paralyzed. Random content was scrolling by at a feverish pace, too feverish to manage. Tweets we could grab ahold of felt disjointed and distracted (as did we). The velocity of tweets is a testimony to the power of the idea, certainly, but also made for an unsettling user experience. Other people felt similarly. A series of responses and critiques have since surfaced.

  • One Day for Design – Deep Dive by DoubleThink out of Minnesota is a great analysis of 1D4D Twitter data showing how much work it takes to pull patterns and value out of the “waterfall,” as Phong puts it.
  • MJ Broadbent posted AIGA’s One Day for Design Conversation to the IxDA discussion list, calling the event laudable, but “kind of a mess to follow and participate in.”
  • Frank Chimero focused on the content of the 1D4D conversation (calling his post Designers Poison) but noted first that “Twitter seemed like the wrong place for the discussion, because it presented a conversation on design that required holistic thinking in a fragmented manner.”
  • On GOOD, Dylan Lathrop wrote in Global Twitter Conversation Proves Designers Don’t Get It that “try as hard as they might, moderators couldn’t contain the endless barrage.”
  • Equally pessimistic was Lindsay McComb on TheMetaQ, in Why design can’t be described in 140 characters:”I felt as though my tweets were a drop in a massive ocean of irrelevance.”

We felt similarly. Back here at the ranch, it was only a matter of minutes before the impulse to analyze and think about improving the experience kicked in. How could this be better? What exactly felt so daunting? The event’s energy was exciting but it was unclear what people were trying to accomplish on this day and how this energy would/could be harnessed to do that. So many different types of people were taking part; surely their objectives differed. And underlying it all, how was Twitter faring as the de facto forum for this event?

Based on our brief brainstorming, we identified a few generative ideas and themes (in other words, we’re staying away from the “put the comment box near the newest not the oldest tweet” UI tweaks that others are so much more qualified to address, and sticking with our sweet spot – teeing up the questions that lead to a broad swath of new solutions). After all, what’s possible when you have 3,900 engaged designers (and design enthusiasts) from all fields eager to talk?

Let Moderators Moderate!
Allow a little lag time (think about broadcasting’s 7-second delay) to give moderators a chance to filter, sort, and respond. This could result in something like moderated “channels” to follow.

Segment the group
Allow people to self-identify as being affiliated with certain disciplines, areas of interest and/or years of experience, enabling participants to establish and dwell in affinities and also to make targeted connections beyond them.

Anticipate and Seed Topics
The topic of design is broad (understatement alert!). AIGA and/or moderators could anticipate or encourage certain topics. Participants and the community at large could benefit by a little time prior to the big day to pull thoughts together and perhaps even engage in dialogue outside of the event.

Better Control Content
There are numerous ways to imagine enabling people to organize the information stream. Self-tagging? Content-bots? Anything that would allow people to create their own “channels” based on individual interests. Essentially Twitter’s existing “Trending topics”, we imagined a dynamic hashtag cloud that would guide people towards what others are talking about and help to get them there.

Twitter-fu?
There are three of us in this office. Our interest in 1D4D, which we all shared, bore no relationship to our interest in (and experience with) Twitter, which varies wildly. Master and neophyte alike should be able to participate in the conversation without a black belt in Twitter. Help people by providing a semi-curated experience.

There are many good reasons not to include some of these ideas into general Twitterings, as they introduce constraints on the free-form and user-generated stream of consciousness experience that defines Twitter. We’ve weighed in elsewhere on the challenges Twitter faces in general and those factors can be exacerbated when large numbers of people convene with a larger purpose for a time-bounded conversation. Perhaps some scaffolding would improve the ability for more meaningful exchanges, enabling serendipity without letting serendipity reign as the organizing principle.

With all the fertile design minds out there as part of this conversation we’re sure that others have ideas. Let’s hear ’em!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Inside User Research at YouTube – "One of the most important findings has to do with the difference between the large group of users who are on YouTube simply to watch videos and a smaller, but very important, group of more engaged users — often uploaders." [This is such a "real" user research finding; to those of us on the outside it just drips "duhhh" but of course the discovery of the depth of this truth was probably a significant a-ha moment for the team and more importantly, their internal clients, who may have had this as a notion but hadn't really taken on how to build that insight into the design. Now it's a marching order inside the organization!]
  • Kill the Kindle: Charles Brock’s 60 second video from AIGA Make/Think 2009 – Being a book designer, Charles has an (*ahem) unique perspective on the Kindle.

Design and Research had a baby and they called it . . .

personal-greenhouse_no-tag.jpg
Sketches for “Personal Greenhouse” ¬©2007 Dan Soltzberg

Debbie Millman and Mike Bainbridge have posted their article, Design Meets Research, over at Gain: AIGA Journal of Design & Business. The piece provides a quick overview of various tools in the research toolbox, calls out their particular strengths and drawbacks, and makes the point that picking the right tool for the job and using it well are paramount.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article and some of my thoughts in response:

There are a wide variety of research techniques that can have merit for designers. . . There is not, repeat not, one correct way to test design.

I see research very much as a generative tool as well as an evaluative one, and have started to question whether the concept of a border between research and design is really accurate or productive. At the front end of the design process, research is a way of surfacing opportunities and generating ideas. At later stages, it’s a way of refining and validating these ideas as they become concepts and prototypes. In this way, research is a design tool in the same way that drawing is a design tool, except that at the center of the mechanism is the customer/user.

When used correctly, research shouldn’t stifle creativity but rather offer designers stronger inspiration and focus.

By taking a facilitative, collaborative approach to working with companies and design teams, research and research findings can be integrated into the design process in ways that enhance rather than stifle creativity. Keeping the customer/user and their needs prominent throughout the design process needn’t be limiting–having clear goals and constraints ultimately makes a design problem more interesting and leads to better, more elegant solutions.

And better, more elegant solutions are, after all, the end game here.

Debbie Millman and Alan Dye


Alan Dye, originally uploaded by debbie millman.


Originally uploaded by debbie millman.

Last night I went to the AIGA’sDesign Matters Live featuring Alan Dye interviewed by Debbie Millman (who I did a fun podcast with a few months ago).

I was fairly out of my element; the first presenter gave a tutorial on how to use Illustrator and Photoshop (and InDesign) to do things like Layer Comps. He explained it very well, but there were moments when a nifty way of doing something would evoke yelps of delight from the audience, many of whom who were using the same applications to solve some of the same problems. I’m definitely not one of those people, however.

I didn’t know anything about Alan Dye, either. He’s a creative director at Apple; I’m not entirely sure what that job title refers to. He’s worked at Kate Spade, I would think they make purses, but that’s probably all I knew.

But what Debbie does is get great people in, and have great conversations with them. She and Alan had a great dialog as they walked through his career, with lots of anecdotes that provided insight into one person’s creative process, layered against different work processes and company cultures. This was not any sort of ethnography, but the frisson from hearing someone share their stories was similar.

Two particularly cool points in the interview:

  • The Adobe demo used a bunch of Alan’s files (designs for a book cover, and a magazine cover) and when Alan came on stage he expressed some distress over the fact that “all the type was defaulting.” He was referring (I think) to the fact that the his machine and the demo machine were configured differently and the fonts in the demo were not the fonts that he was using in his designs, and so were not appearing correctly. I mostly just liked the phrase; such an insider’s way of putting it.
  • Alan related a story about a focus group gone typically wrong, when they showed some Molson labels to some 20-year old guys in Philadelphia. One participant cast himself as the alpha male and declared that it looked like a “gay beer” and of course, no one else in the group was willing to say “Well, I kinda like it…” Alan described his preference to really talk with people and observe them. That comment isn’t so radical, but the fact that it comes from a leader in the graphic design community (not historically the most user-centered of design practices) is awesome.

You can check out archived Design Matters broadcasts here (and these feature one of the best parts: Debbie’s articulate state-of-the-world rants that lead off each episode). No link to Alan’s site because he doesn’t have one (yet, as he told me afterwards).

Update: a short film based on this event has just been posted

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Put together by my colleague when she was at Cheskin. People on a discussion group were begging for a PDF, but it was only in (yuck) print for a while. Now Cheskin has posted a file for your viewing. It’s definitely “primer” not “text” but fortunately it’s not “brochure”
  • It was developed by psychotherapist Jacob L. Moreno in his studies of the relationship between social structures and psychological well-being. He defined sociometry as “the inquiry into the evolution and organisation of groups and the position of indiv

Projective Techniques for Projection Technologies

Projective Techniques for Projection Technologies, my paper for the dux05 conference, has just been posted online. Check it out here!

To facilitate the development of a new home-entertainment device (a portable projector with built-in speakers and a DVD player) we conducted in-home interviews that explored home entertainment activities, presented a demo of a rough prototype, and brainstormed with participants about future refinements.

I don’t often get to talk about my consulting work, so it’s great to have a fairly detailed case study published and available.

AIGA SF Apple Store Events

As part of a unique partnership, AIGA SF and Apple Computer, Inc. have teamed up to give AIGA members the opportunity to show the business community the power of graphic design.
JULY 20: STONE YAMASHITA PARTNERS

I’m way interested in SYP and what they are about, so I’ll be heading to this. Anyone else?

Series

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