Weeknote #039

— 23 minute read

I decided to redesign this website this summer, instead of writing more frequently.

There is still a lot to do, but it was an exciting side project, and I had help from a brilliant bunch of people. The new layout is live since August, with the same content and new features.

I can wait to get some feedback and iterate. Onward.

Top 3 links

Teach Slower to Teach Better

Jon Kolko is a designer and founder of the Austin Center for Design. As I am more and more interested in education and learning, I found this article about how designers learn and the issue of quality versus speed. Jon is a prolific writer and you definitely should visit his site.

Cancel your meetings

Phil Libin is the founder of mmhmm - a tool that aims to transform video meetings and presentations. In this talk, he explores the value of asynchronous updates. There is also an interesting point about the speed we process information these days.

How to Foster Participation

Inayaili De León shares a lot of wisdom in her 2018 talk at the Design Systems London conference. Build a style guide, and the essential component library is way easier than making a living design system. This work is more complicated, unpredictable. There is no such thing as the right way of doing things, but some good practices always help.

Good things permalink

First 90 days permalink

When I joined my current job I bought this book "The First 90 days". It was heplful to plan my activities during the probation, and a lesson in finding the balance of learning new things and reusing existing knowledge. I feel more connected with the world of luxury and fashion, and I understand how self-expression and style is important for people. I know a lot more about our design org context and achievements.

The support I am getting from the team and the design leadership is excellent, and having this great chap called Justin to call boss is a privilege. So yes, I am happy and excited for the next quarter.

Workshops, love and productive conflict permalink

When I joined, there was a process in place for strategic design work. It’s an innovative approach that intertwines research and sprint activities smoothly. My first mission at the company was to improve part of this process. It was not my first time working with custom sprints and complex programs related to innovation.

But I was changing the process while planning the next initiative, which is not an ideal approach. In the end, it worked really well.

During the planning activities, I was lucky to work with Deborah Nogueira, a long time friend and talented designer. She led an interesting piece on inspiration and competitive analysis. With the right cross-polination with research insights, everything was ready for the hard work to start.

I had to join the incredible team of 5 designers in the sprint itself. It was our first pilot with a lot of changes, and a relatively new group.

I was in charge of the facilitation and planning, working with a Head of Design, a Principal and a Lead Researcher. Together we learned a lot about storytelling, async work, cadence and improvisation of ideation activities.

In some moments I did a bit of hands-on work as well, which was something extraordinary for me. Design Operations work can be tedious sometimes. I frequently miss the simplicity and the joy of delivering design work.

Two weeks ago we had a retrospective about this work. The feedback about facilitation, structure, and energy was very positive. Product leaders and the team were also pretty happy with the outcomes. Feedback from users was positive.

Another good outcome of this work was to have time working more closely with Paddy, one of our Principals. I shared with him some facilitation tricks and we tested new tools and methods to improve collaboration and equal participation in workshops.

Psychological safety, love, and a bit of productive conflict are core ingredients for quality design work. I am happy to say we delivered the work and changed the process significantly with great success. Now it's time to document, iterate and prepare for the next one.

A lens a day #42 - slow change permalink

Wonderful Dan Brown invited me to a chat about Information Architecture. Dan is one of the luminaries in the IA Community and founder of Eightshapes, an American design consultancy. His book Communicating Design helped me a lot a decade ago and.

He created IA Lenses, a deck with 51 cards to help practitioners with perspective when designing information architecture. Recently, he decided to invite Information Architects around the world to discuss the lenses in a video series that is also available as a podcast.

The topic we talked about was slow change, which I was honestly not prepared to talk about. But with great interviewing skills and low expectations, Dan put me at ease at the beginning of the call. We touched on topics like agile, service design and the opportunity to apply IA in a holistic context to enable sustainable change. The interview was recorded during my holidays. The video quality is not great but the audio is quite good.

Learned Things permalink

Meaning is pain permalink

Like many of you, I have lost important people in my life. My best friend and three grandparents and are the ones I am still mourning. And all happened before the pandemic. Mainly because I didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye properly. In July, Fabio Palamedi, a mentor and friend died of Covid. Right now, the last of my grandparents alive, Atilia, is in the hospital. Accepting death and the end of things is something I struggle with.

All of this makes me think a lot about finding happiness. At work, at life, in my relationships. Besides being a self-proclaimed pissed-off optimist, I confess that I have been overwhelmed recently.

Stupidity, prejudice and politics are now hurting or killing the ones I love more frequently. The situation in Brazil is out of control. Staying happy in my privilege bubble while the world falls apart isn’t easy. The ebbs and flows of doom and optimism are insanely hard for my mental health.

Helena, my therapist, is helping me to cope with these dilemmas. It might sound like a truism, but here it is: everything that carries meaning will definitely bring painful moments. If change is the only thing that remains constant, pain is the sidekick.

If you are interested in digging into this, perhaps you will find some joy and reflection reading this post from Scientific American.

The great resignation and communication breakdown permalink

Everyone is talking about the great resignation. Corporations are struggling to provide a sense of safety and fair participation to employees in regard to the decisions on remote work.

It baffles me that in 2021 we are still having discussions about this. It’s not that hard, really. Policy change is a service design challenge — it feels we have learned nothing about how governments handled the COVID catastrophe. (Kudos to Jacinta and New Zealand, the only country that really nailed it)

Even Apple is having trouble. This article published today at Vox is enlightening: it explains so much about the arrogance that comes with power and what is really behind these decisions.

Perhaps the only FAANG that is not having so much problems on this arena is Facebook. Since June, they acted fast and opened the work at home policy to all employees after trying to enforce some rules in May. Perhaps it is because they have way bigger issues to deal with it in terms of reputation.

The back story of the war on global talent and retention is that sad, really. Millions making bad decisions and a communication breakdown. Changes in how we work are happening fast, and leadership and management teams aren’t able to cope with that speed.

I am navigating this theme carefully and doing what I can. Having honest conversations with my team and learning more and more about asynchronous work. We have plenty of possibilities and ways of solving this charade. But the solutions will require flexibility and a new approach. And better communication and transparency, of course.

Things that bring me joy permalink

Late summer in Crete permalink

I had burn-out and got really sick the last march, so these things took a toll in my health. A few weeks ago, I was stressed and really tired. Leili, my lovely partner, noticed the changes in my mood and behaviour and intervened.

She gifted us with a holiday week in Greece. In a place that up to now is my favourite in Europe, Chania. We had terrific days enjoying good food and a real summer. I spent a many hours reading Nick Scalding books and listening to music. Soaking in the beach, breathing fresh air and sipping orange juice. I can’t wait for the next one.

Another visit to the office permalink

Thursday, I visited the office again, and I’ve met people from Product for the first time. It was nice to see them in 3D, taking some selfies, having some tea, high fives and hugs. It was a joy to find out we have a design library and having lunch with Justin and Rufus was great.

Leili’s book permalink

My wife just finished her first book, Cheiro Verde. It's a recipe book with a pinch of romance: a celebration of her family talent and the traditions from Minas Gerais. I’ve had the pleasure to eat 90% of all recipes, and I have to say: it’s all delicious. Now the plan is to help her with the printing production and marketing. She is aiming to launch this year in Brasil. One of the recipes of the book it’s available in English: you can learn how to bake Cheese bread, one of the classics of her cuisine.

Healthcheck permalink

Many things have happened in this area since my last post in June. I had another diabetes review, with some improvement in how I am managing the condition. On the other hand, long COVID is still a thing for me. I went through heart exams, blood samples, audiologists and many consultations. The same old weird shit is still affecting me eventually: parosmia, fatigue and tinnitus. But the heart palpitations are gone and I am really relieved.

- Weight: 98 kg

- Blood pressure: 13/9

- Food: We had great and healthy food this week

- Drinks: No alcohol since August.

Quote of the week permalink

None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa.