Random thoughts about design, empathy, and probably food.

Takeaways from the MITX DesignTech Summit

At the MITX DesignTech Summit, product and design leaders from across industries got together to discuss the business of design through panels, discussions and a few interesting keynotes. The summit was notable for its diversity, not only in speakers but in the focus of the content. Here were some of my key takeaways. I also captured some sketchnotes during the conference, which you can see at the end of the article.

Takeaways from the MIT Designing for Health conference

The MIT Designing for Health Conference took place at MIT Sloan on December 6, 2018. The conference brought together academics as well as government and industry leaders to unpack the problem of quantifying the impact of health programs that focus not just on delivering medical care, but dealing with the underlying social determinants of health such as food insecurity, systemic inequality, and others. Here are some of my key takeaways from the conference.

Maintaining team alignment with experience briefs

When it comes down to it, being a good designer requires much more than pushing pixels or learning the next interesting prototyping tool. You have to help your teams prioritize, reframe their problems, and stay aligned through the messy, thrilling process of creating something new. This makes the creative brief a small but incredibly powerful tool in your design arsenal.

The persona character sheet

As with any good role-playing game, the character sheet helps to frame the main characteristics, motivations and intentions of your personas, in a way that's meaningful to the rest of the team. As my husband (a longtime D&D player) says, the character sheet "gives you all the information you need to know to act that character out… and tells the game master how they should treat your character."

Reflections on making vs. managing

When you're a maker, the things you make are visible. You can see them, maybe even touch them. Your achievements, such as they are, belong to you. When you're a manager, you have to get used to your achievements being the result of other people. Your job is to get things done through those people. That requires a different set of skills. Relationship building, conversation, influence vs. persuasion. Hell, you can't even boss people around the way you thought you would be able to when you became "the boss."