New Year, New Events

Concept map

In January I had the privilege to participate in two design-related events in the DC metro area. The first was a group ideation session around how technology is changing how we work, and the second a panel discussion about transitioning into a career in user experience design.

Exploring the Future of Work with NASA

On January 18th, OpenIDEO’s DC chapter partnered with NASA and Pivotal Labs to host a Design Thinking workshop exploring “The Future of Work”. As artificial intelligence, robotics, and other emerging and potentially disruptive technologies evolve, what does that mean for the ways we work? What jobs change, when, how, and how much? How will technology bring us closer together, or further apart?

Introductions at OpenIDEO/NASA event

Participants were divided into groups, each assigned a different theme – economics, politics, technology, etc. – and presented with background information and data from NASA. Each group then talked through and organized high-level ideas for how we as designers could help facilitate these changes, and mitigate the inevitable challenges associated with transitions in how we work.

Post-It notes
Post-It notes from the ideation portion of the exercise

Imagine if your job now has you working alongside a robot, or an artificial intelligence program. Some part of what you used to do is now performed by your computerized counterpart. How does your job change? What kind of retraining or skill-building would you need to help work through that transition?

What if teams could be freely constructed by freelance talent, located anywhere in the world but collaborating as needed using advanced video conferencing and augmented reality interfaces? How might that work? What does that mean for how we build such teams? How they get paid?

Concept map
Concept map summarizing concepts from the ideation exercise

These and many other ideas were presented and discussed over the course of a fun and inspiring evening, and the results shared with NASA to help inform their ongoing research in this field.

Hiring for UX

For January 24th’s NoVA UX meetup I joined panelists Matt Schleyer from Booz Allan Hamilton, Alex Kramer from Optoro, Tom Osborne from Viget, and Jody Thomas from Capital One (and also a NoVA UX organizer) to share insights and experiences from hiring UX talent and building design teams.
Alex Hsiao moderated the discussion, during we discussed such topics as:
  • Shifting of roles and expectations around UX design as a multi-faceted skillset, including visual design, branding, research, prototyping, and coding
  • The shift from “waterfall”, multi-stage, and siloed design processes to those that are more agile, iterative, and collaborative – and what means for team dynamics
  • Where design leaders find candidates, what we look for, and how we evaluate potential additions to our teams
  • Tips and tricks for successful resumes, cover letters, and portfolios
  • How design can play a more strategic role in an organization, and how to get there

After the discussion the panelists and attendees participated in a rapid-fire speed networking exercise. For five minutes at a time pairs of participants introduced themselves, described their work, and if looking to hire or be hired, pitch themselves and their experience. It was a fun way to make new connections and say hello to some old friends.

Jim leads the design team at Contactually, and has previously led teams at Oracle, AddThis, America Online and other organizations. In 2012 he founded NoVA UX, now one of the 50 largest UX-related meetup groups in the world.

NoVA UX holds free UX-related events monthly at various locations in Northern Virginia, and frequently streams events on YouTube.