Last Build Date: Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:31:41 -0600Copyright: Copyright 2016
Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:31:41 -0600
In an effort to draw more attention to a story that some of you may have already heard, I have spent more time than I should have to try to put together words that will drive a response from you. I have failed to write a successful narrative that begins with a meaningful backstory, relatable to you, so that when I come to a conclusion, you, filled with empathy and emotion, feel absolutely compelled to act and share the story within your sphere of influence, but in an attempt to be clever I have wasted too much time.
So let me get to the point: Carolyn Woodsomeone you have likely never heard of beforea quiet, but important member of our community is in dire need of help from all of us.
If you make things for the digital world (World Wide Web, mobile, etc.) then you owe some part of your career to Carolyn. She has worked mostly behind the scenes, helping the community at large express, present, and distribute ideas, strategies, and tactics on building a better worlda better career path for you and I. This may come across as hyperbole but I assure you it is not. Many of the quintessential books and articles that have steered our industry in the right direction.
If you use the Internet directly through a web browser or possibly indirectly through an iPhone app, you have Carolyn Wood to thank. She has worked to support the community that creates compelling arguments and supportive statements that foster curiosity, innovation, and conversation that lead to many of the delightful experiences that you and I enjoy.
There is a hard working, very smart, important, kind woman who has been there for all of us, albeit in a small, maybe obscure but impactful way and she now needs our help and support. I hope I have held your attention enough that you'll click through and help Carolyn Woodplease contribute what you are able either financially or through sharing this story to your network. We have to get this done; we can't fail those who's hard work helped pave the way for us to enjoy better careers and experiences.
Tue, 14 Jun 2016 11:55:04 -0600
Ryan Rumsey, Anette Priest, and I will share our experiences and point of view on how to "navigate the sometimes tricky waters of enterprise organizations. The discussion will center around Culture, Career Path and Professional Development as well as Hiring."
Funsize has put together an interesting group around an interesting topic and I'm looking forward to sharing what I know--what I feels--and hearing from the experiences of Ryan and Anette. Especially Ryan, because, well, Electronic Arts!
If all goes well the session will be recorded and turned into a future program for Hustle. If you aren't subscribed to the podcast yet, make it happen now.
Mon, 13 Jun 2016 09:53:13 -0600
True fact, I am the only person on the planet who has been a Happy Cog client, contractor, and captain. As many of you know I merged my business with Happy Cog in 2009 and ran one of three studios for five years. When I went out on my own and started Airbag in 2005, I worked on several projects for Happy Cog as a freelance contractor. And long before any of that nonsense, in 2003, I convinced Jeffrey Zeldman (at the time, the sole proprietor and employee of Happy Cog) to work with me on a redesign project for my employer at the time, The Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
Our project kick-off took place in Jeffrey's flat that sat atop Murray Hill. We sat in Jeffrey's living room which featured a gorgeous, white, thick, shag-like carpet. The room was surrounded by a fantastic collection of books, music, and movies (everything classic or destined to be). I took a spot on an amazing orange leather couch and did my best not to lose my shit because I was sitting in Zeldman's living room, and we were working together on a project.
So you can imagine what it was like for me to get to work with Jeffrey for the next eleven years. Though, to be honest, we didn't work together nearly enough. If I have one regret from my time with Happy Cog, it is that I wish we could have worked on more projects together as I have always enjoyed my time with Zeldman, especially when we commiserate as designers and writers.
This morning Jeffrey announced his next endeavor, Studio.Zeldmannow open for business! I presume this means he has said goodbye to Happy Cog, the studio he founded seventeen years ago. I don't think I'm wrong to say that Zeldman is one of a select few pioneers of the digital/interactive/web/device/whatevs industry that is now available for consultation. Anyone who operates a content-based property or business should have Zeldman on retainer.
Meanwhile, I need to convince someone to give me a project and a budget to hire Studio Zeldman and start the cycle over again.
Vive la Happy Cog! Vive la Airbag! Vive la Studio.Zeldman!
Sun, 12 Jun 2016 18:44:52 -0600
Talking to users is paramount to the success of any design project. It's one of the activities I enjoy a lot because I can talk to users until they suffer from discomfort due to hunger and dehydration. The hard part of research, the part that sometimes puts me into a round room is the work that's required after having a nice chat--synthesizing the results into meaningful insights.
One of my former Design Campers, Jessica Zhang, now a UX researcher at IBM, recently shared her thoughts on the topic in an essay called "What Should I Do with My Interview Notes?"
In other words, how do you turn lines and lines of words (and snippets of your memory) into an accurate picture of what the user needs, without needing years of formal training? Moreover, how do you strike a balance between doing this collaboratively and getting it done quickly?
Please click that heart shaped icon at the end of the article. Unlike most of my designers, Jessica is one who actually listened when I said that writing is vital to early career success. More importantly, Jessica is one sharp tack so follow her on Medium and look for more productive thoughts as she navigates the world of user research in enterprise software and cognitive intelligence design.
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 10:40:04 -0600
My one year anniversary at IBM Design is on the horizon. Ten months in I have successfully co-created a new program that provides systematic incubation capabilities available to every business unit at company. More importantly, I have, as Monteiro puts it, I "designed" sixty designers. Together we created nine new products and services for a wide array of business domains including global procurement services, cognitive Internet of Things, cognitive education, cloud product support, cloud marketing SAAS, and Blockchainpatents pending.
I have learned a lot about myself and where I want to go in my career in the last year. After closing Happy Cog Austin, I was repeatedly asked what I wanted to do, and I didn't have a good answer at the time. It goes without saying that I wasn't prepared to go from studio owner one day to unemployed the next.
Now, after a year of working on the Incubator Program, I know without a doubt that I love leading and mentoring designersespecially the ones right out of school. I have had the privilege of working with world-class talent. But after time, I realized that as much as I enjoyed leading with these teams, I grew weary of having to start over after six-week sprints. It takes a lot of effort, energy, and passion to take a team of strangers and turn them into a highly functional product design team within a few weeks. I enjoyed the challenge, but I got tired of saying goodbye.
So I have been on a search for a different type of experience. I thought for sure this meant leaving Austin to join a team on the West coast. Many conversations were had, and multiple opportunities were on the horizon, but something seemingly came out of nowhere that I was not expecting.
A few weeks ago I was invited to join a new team at IBM with a mandate to duplicate the success of the Austin studio around the world (That's right folks; Storey Style is going international). While I genuinely want to be reunited with the Pacific Time Zone, this is an opportunity I could not pass up. In this new role, I have the pleasure of working directly with design leaders I admire, and some of you know: Nigel Prentice, Sarah Nelson, and Doug Powell, who has a new role of his own.
In my first year at IBM, I proved that I've still got it when it comes to leading team's of designers to fantastic outcomes at a large scale. My attention will now be focused on building a global community for studio directors and design leaders in every continent except that cold one down South.
West Coast, I will see you soon, but I've got a new job to do.
Mon, 28 Mar 2016 22:26:43 -0600
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 15:51:43 -0600
One evening, eleven years ago, I got an instant message from Cameron Moll. He asked if he could show me some work he recently completed. After agreeing to keep what I was about to see a secret, he sent over a hyperlink. I clicked the link and got my very first look at Authentic Jobs.
Cameron had a history of posting design jobs to his blog. Those posts became so popular that employers and recruiters started sending him emails asking to have their job listing posted. Seeing an opportunity, Cameron, got to work creating one of the first job boards devoted to our trade.
That evening, he also showed me a new addition to the sidebar of his blog featuring links to the last five job listings. Wanting to help a friend, I asked how I could put that list on my site, Airbag. As I recall, Cameron seemed slightly confused that someone would want to help promote his site, but a few weeks later I got the code and happily added it to my site.
That gesture turned into an opportunity to join the advisory board for Authentic Jobs. I served for ten years, happily peppering Cameron with ideas and thoughts on how to expand market share and revenue. Not every suggestion made it through the Storey Filter, but enough did to make me feel like a worthwhile contributor to the team.
Though I resigned from the advisory board a year ago, I am still a big supporter and fan of Cameron and his team. Last night the guys deployed a brand new Authentic Jobs that has been a long time coming. It's a big improvement, and the team should feel proud.
Sun, 06 Dec 2015 20:10:25 -0600A weird question came across the Dear Design Student desk recently: "What are some things (if any) that designers are incapable of?" My immediate reaction was, "nothing." Why would anyone seek to define limitations to someone's capabilities? I grew up in a community that assumed anyone from fifty miles out was better, smarter, and more successful. That point-of-view sucks and it took me decades to understand that it's simply not true. That said, after giving the question more consideration within the context of my experiences as a designer, I uncovered more than a handful of things designers are incapable of doing. Things Designers Simply Can't Do, The List Designers are incapable of fixing your disaster in a fraction of the time and of the budget that it took to create the problem in the first place. If you want a miracle call the Pope. Designers are incapable of reading minds. When they present work to you, speak up and provide constructive, useful feedback. Share user and/or sales data that can help inform creative and user experience decisions. In short, be professional and stop playing stupid mind games with your designers. Designers are incapable of delivering their best work for free. Stop asking designers to waste their time and your's through the creation of misinformed, misguided comps as a way to help you make a hiring decision. Look for results and recommendationsgood designers will have both in spades. Designers are incapable of doing their job when they are art directed by someone without any design sensibility. I'm talking to all of the CEOs, Presidents, VPs...anyone who feel they know better. Take your misguided OCD malfunction and direct it towards HR. Designers are incapable of learning if they are not nurtured. Invest in your designers through continuing education opportunities. Start with a modest book budget, time off for related community events, and throw in an annual conference. Designers are incapable of working well with developers and engineers if they can't collaborate. Throwing work back and forth over a fence never produces great results. So stop doing it. Designers and developers should work side-by-side (that doesn't have to mean cheek-to-cheek, there are plenty of ways to work collaboratively remotely). Designers are incapable of helping to take your company to the "next level" when they are directed to copy what the competition is doing. And, holy hell, stop asking designers to "just do what Apple does." Designers are incapable of creating "tomorrow's future." I heard that from a client once and it still makes me want to reach through the phone and smack them upside the head. So stupid. Stick to the fundamentals of good design paired with good data, user insights, and creative freedom. Designers are incapable of being happy with their work when they are micro-managed. Just, stop micro managing. It probably kills babies or something. Designers are incapable of coming to work excited, energized, and ready to deliver amazing work when they are merely asked to color in wireframes or make whatever engineering cooked up look "good." Designers are incapable of growing if they don't read, write, and share their thoughts with the community. Give your designer time to do these things and require outcomes on a regular basis. Designers are incapable of saving the world with design. We have a lot of problems and challenges on this planet that are not going to be fixed by an iOS app. Sure, design has a role to play in working towards a better future, but we're not going to do it alone. Sorry FastCompany. Each of these points was written based upon a lot of career experience earned the hard way over the last twenty-plus years. There are a lot of bad expectations out there regarding the design trade. That said, if you treat designers right, they can be capable of a lot. Give them the proper support, a co[...]
Fri, 04 Dec 2015 19:58:47 -0600
In the days after September 11th, I waited for news of terrorist attacks in small towns around the United States. As horrific as the attacks were in New York City and Washington D.C. (including the crashed plane destined for the White House), they took place in two big cities on the East Coast. At the time, I lived in Southern California, three times zones or a six-hour flight away. I felt a certain amount of security being so far away from Ground Zero (except that one time a F/A 18 flew CAP (cover and protect) above Disneyland for about an hour, that was pretty freaky).
I thought for sure a few small towns around the country were going to get hit. Nothing as spectacular killing by jet plane, but maybe a local diner or cafe shot to hell. Keep in mind, assault rifle massacres were not so common as they are now. At the time, I theorized that the best way to really shut down the United States was to hit a handful of really small towns in Middle America. Thankfully, it never happened.
This evening I read the attack in San Bernardino is being investigated federally as terrorism. And now, though I am thousands of miles away in Austin, I don't feel the same security via distance as I did fourteen years ago. Look, I'm not going to avoid public places, but with all the shit going down this year, nowhere is 100% safe. Nothing is off the table anymore: Elementary schools, university campuses, offices, government buildings, theaters, malls, coffee shops, and now Christmas parties.
Given the current state of our country--our government--I am concerned that our country's leadership will be more willing turn parts of Syria and Iraq into glass (that is to say, drop a nuclear weapon) than they are to conduct level-headed discourse and take appropriate action about access to weapons in this nation. I don't see the government willing nor able to come together to work this out.
So, Happy Holidays everyone! Drink and be merry, this will all pass soon or at least never happen in your townmaybe. And may little, Instgramable, birthday boy, baby Jesus bless the United States of AR15s.
Sun, 15 Nov 2015 22:19:34 -0600
"I work at IBM Design here in Austin." For many people outside the program, that statement doesn't do much to explain what I do or what IBM Design is and what it's trying to do. Even after I explain what I do exactly, I still get puzzled looks.
This is understandable. After six months, IBM at large is an enigma to me, but I'm learning. A lot of people I talk to think IBM makes the Thinkpad and that I'm required to wear a suit to work every day. Neither of these things is true and haven't been for some time.
This morning, the New York Times published a fantastic, well-rounded article on the IBM Design program in Austin. The piece provides a full overview, from humble beginnings to a group that is tasked with helping IBM do what it has done time-and-time again: Evolve. A major theme to the story, and where my own comes into play, is that for IBM to evolve with the times we have to hire designers at an incredible scale.
The recruiting pitch made by Mr. Gilbert and his colleagues has been essentially twofold: First, you can make a difference in socially important fields because IBM's technology plays a crucial role in health care, energy, transportation, water and even agriculture. Second, you can be part of a groundbreaking effort to apply design thinking in business.
The wonderful part of my job is to work with the new hires in their first three months and lead them through a six-week-long project that has a direct impact on a product or line of business. To date, I have led six teams of six-to-seven designers and front-end developersforty people total. And that's just my teams, there are several others.
We have created everything from re-envisioned service designs to prototypes for brand new mobile experiences. The work is real, not theoretical. The teams is tasked with a tremendous amount of research, prototyping, and user testing all the while learning how to interact with IBM executives and presenting their work for discussion and critique.
This is the type of work that would make the average new employee fold, give up, but not these young men and women. Oh, if I could share their portfolios with you! I'll just say that the recruiting department does an amazing job finding and hiring a lot of very intelligent, smart, and gifted designers to the program. And it is my pleasure to be a part of their first projects at the forefront of their career.
Tomorrow begins the last week of the current cohort. On Thursday, my three teams will present the culmination of their work to executives. It's nerve racking and exhilarating. Come Friday, "my" designers will move on to their assigned business unit, the 7th floor will go quiet, and I will begin preparing for the next wave of work in early 2016.
Sun, 08 Nov 2015 16:49:21 -0600
Last night Kitchen Storey and I came to a difficult decision that I hope will spare our marriage, reduce blood pressure, and result in a much happier life. After careful consideration based upon some bad history, we have decided to stop going to restaurants during their opening week. We are done spending good money on an intended experience that always falls through the floor.
And this is frustrating because we love to try new places and because She Who Flies All The Time is on the road, it's not often that we get into a place during their debut. It's also really frustrating because almost all of our bad experiences aren't the result of the food, but the quality of customer service.
What I don't understand is how restaurant workers, especially servers and bar tenders, who typically move from restaurant to restaurant seem to fall all over their faces during an opening week. Let me clarify that I don't take issue with food coming out at weird times. That is expected up to the point of ridiculousness (e.g. food not coming out at all). I get that it takes time for a kitchen to develop its cadence.
Good customer service is not reliant upon having a rhythm. You only need to pay attention and check-in with your customers to communicate, set expectations, and do what you can to avoid a bad experience. This is the basic structure of the relationship between the restaurant server and the patron. And yet somehow this all falls to the floor during the first weekmaybe three weeksof a restaurant opening.
I'm sure everyone is nice and doing what they can, but that's not good enough when we're dropping a few hundred dollars on, what we hope to be, an amazing meal. Thus was the case yesterday when we went to Wu Chow, a new Chinese place on West 5th in downtown Austin. It wasn't the white-hot mess that we experienced at Juliet's opening weekend back in July, but here again, we left the restaurant wanting for a better experience and making excuses.
I love that Austin is growing and with it an ever-expanding restaurant scene, but I'm done paying for on-the-job training for servers, bar tenders, and the like. I'm happy to be a user tester, but not on my American Express. There is nothing special gained by attending an opening other than bragging about itwhich would be cool if I was still in grade school.
Tue, 30 Jun 2015 07:40:19 -0600
This following discussion, "Medium vs. The Self-Hosted Blog," occurred June 29 between 10:18-10:28 AM in the "ATX Built" Slack. Some dialogue was edited to protect the innocent from bad grammar.
Professor Plum: Has Medium killed the self-hosted blog? Does publishing on Medium make writers appear more "legit" (especially if you're not web-famous like Adactio or Daring Fireball)? Is there any advantage to hosting your blog on a personal site?
Professor Plum: What if you're an agency/business? Does anyone worry that their content (or at least URLs) might be gone if Medium calls it quits one day? I like owning my content, but it's hard to beat the Medium platform for writing and publishing.
Mrs. Peacock: I think it's a great place for posting essays and thoughts. Just post to your blog first and cross-post to Medium. Too bad Mrs. White isn't on here, her Medium post has 7000 views today!
Mrs. Scarlett: Just invited Mrs. White, tell her to check her email.
Professor Plum: I was thinking about that approach as well. I do like the idea of having posts on my site so that places that I'm interested in working at can see my work and writing in the same place.
Mrs. Peacock: I also think it's great for non-web famous people. Your posts look exactly the same as everyone else's. If you write something worthwhile, people will respond.
Col. Mustard: Medium is awesome for discovery. And you can still "own" your content.
Miss Scarlett: Professor, I am totally a fan of cross-posting b/n your blog and medium. Medium gives you exposure outside your circle, but I like the idea of still "owning" my writing, so to speak, and keeping it on my blog.
Col. Mustard: Lots of people publish both places similar to Linkedin.
Mrs. White: Hello.
Mr. Green: I'll often post on my site, and then post to Medium. Then link to the Medium post with a "Recommend this article on Medium" type blurb somewhere on my site's version.
Professor Plum: So I guess the answer is just do both.
Miss Scarlett: Also, from the perspective of someone Googling you, if they go to my site, I want them to stay there and view my writing without making them leave to Medium.
Mr. Green: But Medium has offered me far more reach every single time than my site ever has.
Professor Plum: Nice. They do a good job with the daily read emails.
Mr. Green: Yeah, they do. One of the only of its kind that I actually insist on looking through daily without archiving right away, lol
Mrs. White: I would definitely go for Medium. I am an indie web booster, and all, of course post it on your own site too but the readers are on Medium. There are lots of them, and If you get a boost by getting recommended by someone, it can be huge.
Col. Mustard: /gliphy huge
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:46:05 -0600
The last time I saw Bruce, he was bent over an old truck engine, taking a turn at a rusted lug nut. The garage was as cold as a meat locker, but that didn't stop the guys. They had a refuge from the dinner party, a mechanical project, country music, and a case of beer. By the time I got out there, half of the beer was gone, and most of the guys had worked up enough sweat to shed their coats.
Bruce cranked on the lug nut hard enough to cause the truck to move. His grip slipped, the wrench fell to the floor with a clang, and he came up with chunks of his knuckles freshly removed. Despite his best attempts, the engine won that night. With blood running down his hand, Bruce grabbed a fresh beer, opened it up, and took a swig while staring down his foe.
He surrendered the battle as he told his son-in-law that he'd have to take the truck into a garage with a lift where they could get to the problematic part directly. The truck hood was closed, and tools put away. We stayed out there a bit longer and talked about life and family in "these parts," near the border of Kansas and Missouri. Not much longer we had to say our goodbyes and return home.
For most of his life, Bruce drove a truck around the country. In the beginning, he worked for himself with his company name on the side of his rig. Towards the end of his career, his truck was adorned with a familiar big box store logo. I always enjoyed talking to Bruce about his job because talking to him was like taking several road trips. He was a living Rand McNally and knew every Interstate and highway for eight-hundred miles in every direction. Exit numbers were as familiar to him as stars are to an astronomer.
Just a few months ago, within the same week of losing a daughter to a decades-long battle with cancer, Bruce learned that he was inflicted with the same poison. Stage four, inoperable and maybe, but not likely, treatable, he was told that his time was limiteda year, maybe longer.
Unfortunately, Bruce didn't make it that far. It was one of the few, if not the only trip he did not complete. Sometime in the night Bruce Voigts (father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather) found his last exit and turned the wheel to the right. While I am sad that I will not be able to hear another story about his time on the road, I am glad that Bruce did not suffer for very long.
Fri, 05 Jun 2015 12:55:32 -0600
My longer-than-expected, un-intended, un-paid, dumb "sabbatical" is finally at an end. The last nine months have been exhilarating, fun, stressful, depressing, eventful, and then non-eventful. I spent more time talking to cats than any grown man should. I'm glad it's over.
I traveled more than I thought I would which led to making new friends and reconnecting with a few people I haven't talked to in years. I also got to spend more time with family than I have in a while. Looking back, things were not as horrible as they felt at the time, and I'm incredibly lucky to have had those opportunities.
Airbag signed two clients in 2015, which means I'll be able to celebrate the company's ten-year anniversary (soon and in full-on Storey Style). Boy, talk about your highs-and-lows...I don't think I'll bother putting together a Keynote deck for that party. I intend to write more about this, but for now, let's get to some great news.
Next week I will begin a new chapter in my career.
I have accepted an amazing position at IBM Design in Austin. A few years back IBM initiated a massive design program dedicated to a big, bold vision for the future. Today there are four hundred designers in the program, and hundreds more to come. IBM Design itself is bigger than any place I have worked before, yet it is tiny when you consider there are four hundred and twenty-five thousand employees around the world. As a Design Practice Manager, I will step into a new position on a new team that will work across all of IBM's business divisions. From what little I know about my role, I'm in for an incredibly crazy ride.
Thank you to everyone who went the extra mile for me in the last nine months, I won't forget it. To the Austin digital community-at-large, thank you as well for your support and selfish desire to have me stay in Austin. I'm not going anywhere.