Weeknote #031

— 18 minute read

Sleeping patterns a bit odd this week. I was fully awake at 4am today. Took the opportunity to write the first draft of these notes. Went back to sleep after an hour and did the editing in the morning with Leili.

My selected post of the week is the difference between autonomy and independence. The fine folks at NOBL are spot-on: the gap between your values and the ones you have to act on are the real challenge.

Good things permalink

Visual Stand-up permalink

After many weeks, I’ve facilitated a Visual Stand-up edition. It was great to see all the people together. A lot of great work happening across all tribes. Jack Roles presented some bits about Config (Figma conference). We also introduced Nathan Djangoly to the team. And to close, we had a sweet moment of goodbye for Ed Russel and Linsey Fryatt.

KPI’s for design systems permalink

Had interesting conversations with the DNA team about how to measure stuff. Inquisitive Nathan is looking for new ways of measuring contribution.

Attending EuroIA permalink

Had the opportunity to attend EuroIA last thursday. I was not watching the keynotes live, and I’m glad the organisation is making all videos available very fast. Peter Merholz shared a very bold statement:

I’ve been beating this drum that information architecture has been constrained by its relationship to user experience… And I think that has been ultimately to his detriment. Because there is so much information that is not specifically user experience that would benefit from our practices, and it’s not understood or appreciated how it can reach beyond user experience.

He nailed: Information Architecture applied to organisational design is our best chance to escape this madness.

EuroIA also provided a great line-up of workshops; it was hard to choose. I attended a hilarious one about Information X Organisation. It was about our inability to imagine new organisations—a simulation in organisational design. With a team, your task was to assess information flows, decision-making models and communication. The scenario was a change in strategic direction for a startup. My group was really cool: me, a content strategist, a service designer and Birgit Geiberger. Birgit is an IxDA fellow and we always bump into each other in design events. We got lost many times, we had some challenges with Miro but It was fun.

In the afternoon I watched an interesting talk by Dave Hora about pattern languages. He was inspired by Christopher Alexander. His research in patterns is available online.

Things I have learned permalink

Organisational memory, design operations and culture permalink

I was reading an article by Andy Polaine this week about organisational memory, and I had lots of insights. In his article, he shares his perspective working as a consultant in many companies. He says:

If you think of people and practices as the neural pathways in the organisational brain when they’re damaged—through redundancies, attrition or “restructuring trauma”, those pathways are destroyed, blocked or fade. Process is often used as a scaffold to rebuild the pathways. It does help to have an explicit process or methodology that everyone understands and shares the meaning of, but process alone does not preserve understanding and shared meaning.

I agree that process and best practices documentation can’t capture the clarity of intent. I like to think that successful organisations lean heavily in uninterrupted information flows and networks of knowledge — and networks are fuelled by shared purpose.

The work in design operations is to elevate the importance of organisational memory — documentation, lean processes, experimentation and reflective practices are tools to achieve this.

But this isn’t enough. As Drucker said, culture beats strategy for breakfast. Your operations don’t happen in a vacuum. Your culture changes over time, and it affects people.

To understand that isn’t easy. Maybe you can have some perspective with performance reviews. But let’s be honest: rarely we have the opportunity to analyse the information from hundreds of performance reviews properly. It’s not proper research.

Exit interviews are an excellent opportunity to find some of the gaps and points of failure. It’s a true moment of applied radical candour. You can spot invisible patterns, gut reactions to well-known problems. And systemic issues collaborators don’t frequently talk due to risk of damaging interpersonal relationships.

Conversations are the smallest unit of change. We have to make more time for the conversations that surface issues to move forward. No strategy can be successful without this.

Mindful about my limits permalink

This week I had stomach bugs and something similar to the flu. I got the Friday off to recover, as I couldn’t sleep well the night before. I usually will just work anyway. I am happy that I am more respectful about my limits.

Things that bring me joy permalink

The 26th September permalink

On this day, in 2011, we married. It was in Brasília, and I remember how happy I was living in that crazy city with Leili. There was so much energy and challenges ahead.

Travelling a bit in time, and exactly four years ago we landed in the UK, moving from Brazil. Today we drink gin and tea, sometimes we use fancy words, and I don’t hate the weather anymore. Sometimes I still think about moving again, mainly due to the government incompetence. But I feel fine. 26th is a day to celebrate changes.

Baby back ribs and cake permalink

I avoid talking about food too much on this website as it’s a never-ending love. But after four months closed, my favourite restaurant in London opened again. We ordered through Uber Eats (which is terrible compared to Deliveroo) some good Baby back ribs and Burnt Ends.

I’ve also beta tested some fantastic chocolate cupcakes. Leili was working with a photographer this week, shooting cakes. She baked a lot to get the perfect cakes for the session. I am so lucky.

Onward and VR permalink

I don’t play games too much, but since I bought a VR headset a few months ago, I’ve been experimenting more. The Darth Vader trilogy was brilliant — believe me, is the closest thing to using a light sabre. A recent surprise is Onward. It’s a military simulation game. Guns and violence aren’t my thing. But who never enjoyed a good Counter-Strike match or even some hours in GTA? Onward is just starting, but it’s a well designed VR experience.

Health check permalink

This week I visited my GP practice. First time since March, if I am not wrong. Got a blood test as part of my diabetes review.

Weight: 99 kg
Blood pressure: 15/8
Food: A lot of healthy food and we ordered only twice.
Drinks: A glass of rosé
Smoking: 4 pods of Juul.

Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. Alfred Adler