Week 42, Year 2018 — The ‘Phone a Friend’ Option

Week 42, Year 2018 — The ‘Phone a Friend’ Option

Spurred by this informative article about different approaches to documenting your week — thank you Sam Villis! — I’ve decided to give it a go here on Medium. A week seems like a reasonable cadence to reflect and write about ideas, conversations and encounters of interest.

Alright yes, week 42 was three weeks ago… but it was a really good week so I’m unceremoniously batch-posting three weeknotes in a row to kick things off 😅

Weeknote styles

Steve Messer recently posed a question to the weeknotes community: “Is there a list of formats, #weeknotes crew? Let me know!” So that got me thinking…. We all have a slightly different way of going about this thing that we are doing, and it might be a useful exercise to document some of the formats used, so if you’re thinking of starting to write you can find something here that might work for you.

The ‘Phone a Friend’ option

I had two occasions to reach out to friends for professional advice. It’s not my natural instinct to pick up the phone like that, and I was amazed at the boost it brought 🚀 — from the timely and relevant information, of course, but also from the exchange of energy with people that I don’t get to spend enough time with.

  • Asked for a crash course in an unfamiliar domain to help sharpen my point of view for a client assignment. I had a few hypotheses but didn’t have the context to have confidence in them or the time to research a whole new field, so it was great to get a sense check from someone who plays at the top level of that domain.
  • Asked for advice on how to position myself in an unsettling dynamic with a new collaborator. Honestly, just asking for time from someone whose instincts I trust calmed me down. Our conversation started with my ‘problem’ and quickly expanded to future-forward topics.

Both calls were so easy to organize — I just had to ask — and because they were ‘business’ conversations, we hung up after 60 minutes. Why don’t I do this more often? And you, reader, are very welcome to ask for calls, too 👍

The sprawling global networks of Communities of Practice

It was a particularly social week thanks to increased activity with a couple of CoPs, some recent, some not.

  • A call with Emma Boulton about teaming up to conduct the next batch of analysis as part of ResearchOps community initiatives. Having conducted two studies on the operational mechanisms of increasing the impact of UX research, the community has already produced several useful models, made available in the Medium publication. There’s still a lot of interesting data left on the table that I’m excited to dig into. More on that soon!
  • Dinner with a few members from the OuiShare community, from a daisy chain of I-want-you-to-meet-someone’s. These opportunities are so much fun — very light on small talk, even though you’re sitting in a restaurant with strangers. But they’re not really strangers, are they?
  • Follow-up conversations with people I met in San Francisco last week at Google’s Design Sprint conference. The atmosphere of the event and the high concentration of like-minded practitioners gathered there made each in-person exchange a rich one, which translates into a lot of post-conference activity. There’s a lot to learn from in how these connections unfold.

Communicating design approaches

Debating how design consulting services could be better provided is an ongoing thing in my day to day, and it’s sure to be a frequent topic in future weeknotes. Here are two particularly meaty questions that I chewed on with colleagues this week:

  • How might we (as a design studio) give confidence to a client who’s not familiar with design processes? Is there a simulated way to familiarize them on the journey?
  • How might we assess the needs of a new client who frames their challenge through the lens of customer experience, so that we can quickly establish an approach? Are there safe ways to avoid the “wait, this isn’t a service design (or whichever ‘type’ of design) problem” realization a few weeks into the project?