Weeknote #034

— 17 minute read

My last #weeknotes update was 28 days ago. Lots of things happened since. I got coronavirus, and I was sick for two weeks. My lovely boss lady Jane Austin left Babylon Health. She is now Chief Design Officer! I have a new manager. It’s winter with the lockdown.

It’s a lot of change. Yet, I feel in control. I’ve learned this year so much about resilience and dealing with ambiguity. Writing is helping me a lot, and it’s great to read my old notes and compare things. Onward.

My selected concept of the week is Org Physics. The authors have an interesting perspective about formal structures, hierarchy and power. It's a rabbit hole, honestly. This podcast with many links is a good starting point.

Good things permalink

A clear path and a kickass plan permalink

Of course, there is some chaos and confusion in Q4, as in any business. Strategy and planning activities are pumping—lots of conversations and questions, which is good.

Regardless of the strategy, improving the design system makes everything easier. We adjusted our roadmap and agreed to a temporary change in our contribution process. We will run a documentation spike in December. The support from our chapter and from the technology teams is excellent. The team is (almost) complete again, and we are back in the norming phase.

Another critical part of this is that we are rebooting our process of design reviews. The team will have the opportunity to work with Amy Keeling, our VP of Design and Tito, our head of Front End Engineering. This is gonna be fun.

A11y folks rocking my world permalink

I have spent a lot of time with Fred Warburton this week. We had great conversations about culture. And the challenges of delivering a critical mission while supporting our people growth. I am so proud of Fred’s work and leadership.

Design Systems and navigating sudden change permalink

A few weeks ago Bronwen Rees invited me for an online event. The theme was how Design Systems can enable teams do deliver with in times of crisis. The panel was me and Michael Zaporozhets, a friendly Australian chap. We talked about some essential Design System topics: ROI, collaboration, patterns.

Michael’s ideas about how to measure ROI were spot on. I shared some things I’ve learned with Amy Hupe, Lily Dart and the design systems community. It is easy to accept lagging metrics for this work. But measuring the impact in a community of creators and the cultural change is not.

It was an excellent opportunity to share a bit of the history of the design system team at Babylon. Bronwen facilitation was superb. The guiding questions she sent before the event made me reflect a lot.

Mentoring Deji permalink

I’ve joined our internal mentoring program for our product organisation. I meet Deji, a Product Manager, every week. He is so excited about learning about user research and experience design. Thursday, we had a fantastic conversation about interacting with the NHS services. We both had COVID in the same week. It inspired us to have ideas for an internal hackathon.

Learned things permalink

Being a design police sucks. permalink

I have been reflecting for long about how part of our industry - and specifically design practitioners - are so keen to debate ethics but don’t walk the talk many times.

This week I am disappointed with a design organisation that I am part of. They released a website for their yearly conference with loads of accessibility issues.

I’ve warned the organisation. I complained about this on social media. Enraged, I wrote an email with a report, suggesting some actions. They have answered me this morning. But still sucks.

A big part of our design community favours aesthetics over usability and accessibility. I get mad about this every time. I get emotional for many reasons. It increases the distance between the accessibility community and the design community. It’s also terrible for our relationship with developers and content people.

I was mad with myself, as well. Am I doing this in the right way? Am I being harsh? I asked for advice on Twitter and my friend Artur Ortega answered. He is a sagacious man. He deals with things like this every day, but he is still so kind and calm. He shared a quote that says a lot:

An acquaintance merely enjoys your company, a fair-weather companion flatters when all is well, a true friend has your best interests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear. E.A. Bucchianeri

Things that bring me joy permalink

Being healthy again permalink

I was freaking out two weeks ago when I discovered I had Corona. But I am so happy that I have recovered fast. I’ve lost my sense of smell, and my taste buds are completely crazy. It’s annoying, and honestly, it removes a lot of the joy in my life. I am still a bit tired but compared to last week... I am a new man.

But I am so grateful to be alive and kicking. And now that is gone, my anxiety about getting sick has vanished—such a weight off my shoulders. Leili recovered way faster than me, and her sense of smell is back.

I have learned a lot of things about Corona. Which is excellent, as I can share information with my loved ones.

Finding new music permalink

I was browsing Youtube and found this artist, Mariana Froes. Her voice is so chill. And this interpretation of Chega de Saudade, a Brazilian classic, it’s so cool.

Healthcheck permalink

Had my diabetes review the day before getting Corona. My usual specialist was not available, so the session was kind of meh. And to make things worse, I think I contracted the virus in the reception —or when I was travelling to the GP practice.

Today I had a follow up consultation over the phone. It was a bit of a bad experience.

Weight: 98 kg Blood pressure: 13/8 Food: Some delivery food, some healthy food. I am experimenting with a diet shake the next 2 weeks. Drinks: No alcohol since last update Smoking: I’ve stopped smoking 2 weeks ago.

Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of your relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself)- Tony Hsieh