In 2006, Dan Brown co-founded EightShapes, a design firm based in Washington, DC. EightShapes designs digital products and systematizes design standards for Fortune 500 clients. Most recently, Dan has conducted user research for a higher education product, designed an application for architects seeking a license, and lead the design of a web-based consumer application for a major educational publishing company.
Dan’s two books, Communicating Design and Designing Together, deal with communications and collaboration on design teams, and are widely considered to be essential reading for UX designers. UX teams all over the world have played his game Surviving Design Projects, to improve their conflict management skills. His new book Practical Design Discovery deals with the very first phase of a project, in which the product team seeks to understand the design problem.
Leadership By Design 2017
Curiosity, Skepticism, Humility: Achieving the Right Mindset for Design Discovery in Teams
Discovery, the first part of the design process, is crucial for aligning teams and leading them to design success. A well-aligned team works toward the same goal, and brings out the best in each other because they all understand what their trying to achieve.
Discovery can take many forms: a multi-month endeavor to prepare for a complex business application, or a four-day “sprint” to align the team around a vision for a new product. Whatever the form, however, teams are prepping and priming themselves to do detailed design and development work.
Discovery is complicated, chaotic, and messy. In discovery, teams gather information about the problem and then explore different ways to tackle it. Through critical thinking, they refine their understanding of the problem and zero-in on a concrete plan for execution. Discovery requires participants to shift attitudes and perspectives almost constantly. Team members go from “tell me more about” to “how about this idea” in the blink of an eye.
To pull this off successfully, team members need to embrace a discovery mindset. This attitude emphasizes learning. It relies on team members maintaining an open mind, questioning everything, and above all not taking themselves too seriously.
In this session, we’ll look at why this attitude is important, how it affects your team’s approach to discovery, and ways you can cultivate this mindset in yourself and those you lead.