Week 1, Year 2019 — Happy new year!

Photo: Wat Saman Rattanaram in Chachoengsao, a 2hr drive from Bangkok

Saying our new year prayers

In Tokyo, we would typically visit a shrine or temple (or both) to put forth prayers and good vibes into the universe for the coming year. This year we greeted the new year in Bangkok, so one of my sisters used her spider senses and the Internet to identify the luckiest symbols in the vicinity. Def the most powerful of all the places that Japanese like to call ‘power spots’…!

Design Your Talk Topic workshop in Singapore

Following the Tokyo edition, I hosted a Women Talk Design workshop on Designing Your Talk Topic with my ResearchOps buddy Sam Yuen. What I really like about this workshop is that people surprise themselves. Lots of people stayed behind to chat (always a good sign!) and there were some really good questions being posed and chewed on together. More of this, please.

Since it was my second time facilitating this workshop, I had the mind-space to jump into some of the activities myself. So the night came with an unexpected bonus of several topics that I want to put out there about in the future 😺

Working on a website for Design Research Tokyo

I put some hours towards building a simple website, which will hopefully be in a launch-able state before the next Jan 16th event. Next week, I’ll work on my talk for that event, too.

Week 51, Year 2018 — Events in Tokyo

This week I flew out to Tokyo to start my annual winter trip.

Ran a workshop about Designing your talk topic

As my first activity as an instructor for Women Talk Design, I ran a workshop at AQ’s office for people interested in public speaking. Anyone who’s able to attend a 2hr workshop after work during peak party season must have an iron will, and my job was to hold the space for them to reflect on why they want to put themselves out there and articulate how they might make it happen. There was a really warm energy in the room and I thought it was a great way to start wrapping up the year.

Never mind that I was severely jet-lagged and promptly passed out as soon as I dragged myself home. I kind of love being in Tokyo trains because we openly share in the various states of coming and going, either in a total zombie mode (as I was that night) or focused work mode (it’s prime email catch-up time) or winding down from a boozy outing. Alone but together in space, letting our bodies be methodically hurled to someplace else.

Learning about the cutting edge of haptic design

There are tons of interesting events in Tokyo, partly thanks to a rise in the past decade of suitable venues for organizing all kinds of gatherings.

I caught an edition of the Haptic Design Meetup, where the theme of the night was haptic design in the context of sports.

Some of the research topics being explored: How might we watch sporting matches with blind and deaf people and communicate in real-time what’s going on? How might we capture non-verbal cues that professional athletes heed to help others master physical movements?

Application of haptic design interests me because in order to be effective, it needs to identify the essence of an interaction without words or screen interfaces. I also enjoyed being introduced to the research in Japanese — there are nuanced concepts that are rendered in this kind of sensorial design which becomes something else when using words from another language.

Organizing a Design Research Tokyo event in January

Johnny and I launched the event page for our January event, which will be the biggest yet for DRT. It will be a content-heavy event with three speakers, designed to get the word out about this new initative. Check out the details here.

I didn’t manage to publish a weeknote in the week that we rolled out DRT’s new visual identity courtesy of Ryan Ruel.

Here it is 😎

I also had three coffees and very engaging conversations with people I’d not met in person before, on top of catching up with friends and colleagues. A good week. I’m happy to be in Tokyo.

Week 45 — The frenzied focus of workshop preparation

Photo: Beautiful colors of an apple orchard in La Suisse Normande.

The frenzied focus of workshop preparation

Most of this week was spent preparing for next week’s three-day workshop as part of an ongoing client assignment on the topic of customer experience. There’s a lot that can be done in three days with 15 people… and subsequently, there’s a considerable amount of preparation required.

During this phase, we live in a constant state of oscillating between deciding where we need to land, and designing for it to happen as a workshop activity… and that happens in both a fractal and iterative manner, as we design chunks of time, and then re-design them as we flesh out the flow of the three days.

And, well, no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, as the saying goes, and it applies even when there’s no enemy. Other humans being involved is enough 😜 This messy process is what allows us to be completely comfortable changing up the agenda as we go.

All the while, the production of content and tools must continue at a steady clip so that it finishes on time. It’s been a packed week.

No skill goes unused

Years of wearing PM/UX/IA hats to build websites and apps meant that I picked up skills in a new or adjacent field every 1–2 years. In the past few years, I’ve shifted my focus to include projects with topics like customer experience and organizational design, which don’t necessarily have a specific product or service involved.

One realization which keeps popping up again and again is just how how transferable those skills and bodies of knowledge are — and I’m very grateful for it. Here are five that came in handy this week:

  • workshop design and facilitation
  • information architecture
  • UX research, especially sense-making and synthesizing bodies of disparate information
  • content strategy, especially production planning and management
  • a general understanding of tech stacks and the state of corporate IT

Researcher frameworks and Communities of Practice

I’ve joined a working group within the ResearchOps community to build a UX researcher skills and career progression framework. One activity is to collect and review existing frameworks, so I’m leading this work stream, while we maintain a steady exchange about our challenges in the context of scaling the impact of research.

This week in particular was fueled with input from the DesignOps Summit, which some folks were attending while the rest of us followed on Twitter. Such rich conversations 😻

More on the framework work in the weeks to come!