Weeknotes #36

— 25 minute read

I can't find my first weeknote. But I remember it was written in January 2020. It feels like a very distant past. 35 editions later, I am glad I commited to write more, but I not so sure about the frequency, quality and format. Expect some changes. The first one: every week, I will share three links instead of one.

Circle of Concerns and designing at the NHS

Emma Parnell is a Lead Designer working for the NHS. In this post, she talks about her experience designing the COVID-19 Vaccinations Programme service. She also talks about ambiguity, service scopes and a tool to help you in times of uncertainty.

Baboons, bullies and stress permalink

No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture tells the story of a group of baboons that completely shifted their behaviour after belligerent members vanished from the troop. Robert M. Sapolsky, the Stanford professor of the famous Human Behavioral Biology lectures, was interviewed for the article.

Ted Lasso and workplace culture permalink

Work of Fiction is a podcast about org design and culture by the Nobl folks. In this episode, they talk about Ted Lasso. Building trust with a new boss and getting executive support for change are some of the topics. Julie Zhuo also gathered some of the best Lasso's leadership lessons on Twitter.

Good things permalink

Warburton & Roles, congrats! permalink

Fred Warbz and Jack Roles, pioneers of the DNA Design System team, have both been promoted recently. It's great to see their hard work being recognised.

Visual Stand-up and the art of gathering permalink

Visual Stand-up is our weekly chapter meet-up. Planning and facilitating this ceremony is a joy. I always see as a unique opportunity to gather our people and have fruitful conversations.

The first edition of the year happened last week. We spend 20 minutes in a Miro activity, a workshop I adapted from the Manual of Me concept. Lots of fun.

Before the holidays, we had End of the Year Special edition. Amy Keeling (Head of Design) kicked-off with a retrospective.

Following up, all XD's presented their best work of the year. One slide per minute. It was really cool to see how much we progressed and the quality of the work we delivered - considering all circumstances.

I had to select one work to present. I choose to talk about the challenge of extending the Visual Stand-up.

XD Bridge: extending the Visual Stand-up permalink

Sometimes recurring ceremonies become boring. Last July I received this feedback about the Visual Stand-up. Some people were not satisfied with the format. Others wanted to know more about some of the projects or initiatives. Some questioned if we really needed to meet every week.

A messy, chaotic problem. I was also having mixed signals about the problem, there was little agreement about anything. Design Thinking to the rescue: We started with a workshop with the XD Leads. With some of the assumptions and questions in place, I conducted research with XDs (new joiners, design managers, people across disciplines). We followed up with rounds of conversations with the people who provided the initial feedback.

The first change we made was to create a 10-minute slot called Show the Thing. It is straightforward: Designers book a slot and share their work or learnings with more time. Mr Jason Bootle helped to set-up this. Michela is now coordinating. Since we started we had about 8 talks, covering all disciplines.

However, I was still getting some comments about the value of the sessions. I had a hard time trying to figure out what was the real issue. But one day, I had a moment of clarity. What was missing was novelty and inspiration. Breaking the routine.

With that in mind, we trialled a new format: every other week we would replace one Visual Stand-up with the XD Bridge.

XD bridge is basically a mini-conference with an external team. And it's not only about the content but also the relationships: creating a bridge with an external team or a particular group designed to last after the event. It is also an opportunity for designers to invest time improving their presentation skills and test content they want to present externally.

The format is simple: 5 minutes of warm-up, two 15 minute talks, followed by 20 minutes in the break-out rooms with the speakers. Up to now, we had four editions:

  1. Babylon & Futurice (Co-host: Luiz Soyer)
    Mia Muurimaki - Service Design and Futures Thinking
    Yours truly - Untangling Design Leadership
  2. Babylon & ASOS (Co-host: Emma Boulton)
    Louise Lynn - Imagineering at ASOS — a really inspiring
    Daniel Harvey - Manifesto on Society-Centered Design
  3. Babylon & Redgate Software (Host: Daniel Harvey)
    Neil Turner - The year without trousers
    Emma Boulton - Helping Researchers do their Best Work
  4. Babylon & A11y team (Host: Fred Warburton)
    Taylar Bouwmeester - Why has a Sign Language interpreter joined the team?
    Bruce Lawson - Accessibility for Designers

Feedback has been really, really positive. Speakers loved. Teams from both sides shared a few good words about it. We are planning to have more XD Bridges this year. If your team is looking for some fun and inspiration, email or tweet me.

Things I've learned permalink

Doomscrolling makes you mad (and sad) permalink

The Capitol racist incidents this week and the advance of the new virus variant in the UK impacted me a lot. The lesson for the week is that I am responsible to control my anxiety and news intake. I will take this more serious - goal for the year is more offline time.

Politeness, facework and voice permalink

I was browsing LinkedIn and found this video by Brielle Nickoloff about Politeness. Brielle is a linguist. I've met her in Interaction Conference in Seattle where she presented a talk about voice assistants. In this new presentation, part of a series about conversational design and linguistics, she explains Politeness and the facework theory. A must-see if you are a conversational design nerd.

The importance of wandering permalink

In my 1-1 with Amy Keeling this week we talked about curiosity. I shared that I am always trying new digital services without any specific reason. My codename at Isobar was Beta Junkie: I am usually the first to sign-up for the indie start-up. Downloading all the apps. Trying all new start-ups. Testing all new cool websites.

The latest thing I am exploring is Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an audio-only social network. I got an invitation from Brielle this Friday, and I am addicted to it already.

Fascinating concept, interaction design and community. It's like having an intimate conversation with a crowd, with some good structure. Clubhouse solves many of the moderation problems that we have on zoom.

This is probably not relevant for any work that I am doing now. But interacting and observing how people use new products and services is so rich. You learn about microcopy, information architecture, visual design. I guess it's not about inspiration. Maybe it is about creating a memory of interaction patterns and well-designed design details.

Things that make happy permalink

My in-laws, Brasília and Tupaciguara permalink

Landscape: blue sky with clouds reflecting in the lake surface

I've managed to fly to Brazil for Christmas, before the Brazilian government-imposed restrictions to UK passengers. After 2 weeks of quarantine in Brasilia, we travelled to my in-law's place in the countryside. It's a small city called Tupaciguara, located in Minas Gerais, my home state.

Their home is so joyful. It's a big house, so there is plenty of space for Leili and me. They have a garden, a hammock and a huge kitchen, where we spend most of the time. We have BBQs frequently. Leili is always playing with Valentina, her 4-year-old niece.

And nature here is impressive. I enjoy listening to the birds in the morning. Sometimes I walk in the city with my father in law in the afternoon. Good times.

I can smell again permalink

After a long flight, we arrived at my friend's place in Brasilia. I went straight to get a shower. It was sweltering, so I turned off the water heating. My friend left a traditional Brazilian soap in the Bathroom: Phebo.

While I was showering in the cold water, I could smell the soap fragrance. After 5 weeks with anosmia, smelling something for the first time again was epic. I now have 70% of my sense of smell, and I am so happy I am recovering fast.

Brazilian ways of surviving COVID permalink

The racist, stupid Brazilian president isn't helping et al. l. His anti-mask, anti-vaccine bullshit creates ripples of disinformation. Brazil is maybe the only country in the world the authorities recommend HCQ. The numbers are terrible: two hundred thousand people died already.

Regardless, I am optimistic about my country recovery from COVID. This is a resilient, smart nation that handles crisis like no other.

I had to learn all about the Brazilian way of dealing with COVID. Their capacity to adapt is remarkable. Everything moved to delivery pretty fast, and the majority of the commercial establishments are following common-sense practices: masks, thermometers, social distancing, lots of hand sanitisers. Brazilians are coping well with the lockdown.

Healthcheck permalink

Great food and a bit of exercise, as I can go outdoors here. I am sporadically walking with my father-in-law, swimming once a week and watching less TV. Also trying some phytotherapy, and my diabetes is under control.

Blood pressure: 12/8 Blood sugar: 7,3 Weight: (I don't have a scale here, but I am sure I've gained 4kg.) Alcohol: Too many beers.

It's harder to be kind than to be clever.

Jeff Bezos grandfather - from this commencement speech at Princeton