Weeknote #033

— 13 minute read

I’ve been consistently skipping my weekly writing, but I am not ashamed. Life is busy: too many plates spinning. I’ve faith I will go back to my regular routine in a few weeks, and that makes me feel good.

My recommendation for this week is a video. It’s a conversation about how might we best learn from the past. Moderated by Interintellect’s Anna Gat, it’s an informal talk between Olena Bulygina and Bardia Pourvakil. The theme is Learning from the past and they talk about pain and how it relates to learning. The explanation about how bi-directional links can help with discovery and reflection is so cool.

Good things permalink

Practice makes perfect permalink

Org Design is a topic very close to my heart. One specific aspect I am always thinking about is how some organisational boundaries are created. Some for good - like allowing deep technical expertise to flourish - and others are just land-grabbing and politics.

Jared Spool once said: “All design is political”. Politics attempts to address wicked problems. Problems that cannot be solved by a definitive solution. Imperfection is the word here, I guess. And If we are aiming high, we definitely can’t skip the hard conversations. Doing that with candour and inclusivity is what makes design relevant. So there is a place for politics, and we should not merely ignore our role.

There are many good playbooks and a lot of old school stuff in this area. I really like how NOBL’s guide on org design principles, There is some agile flair on it. One of the principles is:

Surrender the past. Honour what’s come before and help individuals grieve the losses that accompany change. Then, move forward together.

Honouring the past and assuming previous failures - so they can become learnings - is usually something all teams struggle. I hope I will be able to help with this.

Decentralisation, contribution permalink

If you work in design systems, you know that there is always 3 topics creating a healthy tension: quality, speed and ownership. One thing that is key to alleviate this tension is how you shape the contribution process. This week the team is iterating on this. Good progress and fresh ideas.

The balance of applying energy on risk mitigation versus scalability. Complexibility versus simplicity.

Reluctant design leader permalink

A few weeks ago, I wrote about delivering a talk about design leadership. It happened two weeks ago. Another one with no public recording or blog post - I am terrible at sharing things like this.
But when prepping for talks, I have the excuse for asking a lot of questions and meet smart people.
In a few weeks, I will join a panel about Design Systems with the fine folks from Prime Motive.

Learned things permalink

Now what? permalink

I was interviewing someone this week, and we talked about what makes a design guild/chapter/department relevant. One thing that we agreed to is that the company mission is just the start. An impactful design organisation is connected by the desire to create “something extra” together.

That “something extra” requires an endless love for new challenges and healthy relationships. Relationships are the fuel to the silo-breaking effect, which is much needed to make design excellent. Emma Boulton describes this as connectedness. I think there is something about keeping that connection and comfort with the ambiguity for long periods.

Things that bring me joy permalink

Argentinean night out permalink

After the lockdown announcement, I decided to escape a bit this Saturday with Leili. Restaurants and indoor places are usually a no go for me. But I needed a good memory. We visited Chimichurris, an argentinean restaurant in Southwark. Jane Austin showed me this place last year, and it’s now one of my favourites. A perfect Chorizo and provoleta to start.

Healthcheck permalink

Eye exams, blood, visiting the nurse, the doctors. Diabetes is such a PITA. But I had some excellent news this week and this November I hope to get all sorted.

Weight: 98 kg
Blood pressure: 11/7 
Food: Quite healthy this week, but maybe I should eat more veggies. 
Drinks: One glass of Prosecco. 
Smoking: A lot. 12 Juul pods.

One important insight is that all organisations are networks. People may draw their organisations as hierarchies, but that doesn’t change that they are actually networks. Jurgen Appelo