The Design Better Podcast returns for its fourth season… today with an episode featuring Nancy Douyon, the former international research lead at Uber. We think it’s a great episode to start the new season off because of her unique journey into technology and her thoughtful work around the need for more ethical and inclusive product design. Listen below (and subscribe so you never miss a new episode!):
While prepping for this season, two things have been made clear: More people understand design is an important part of running a great business and that business is increasingly complex. So we’ve made some slight improvements to our podcast: One, we’re going to be dropping new episodes weekly, which means you’ll get twice as much podcast. And two, we’re featuring people not only working in design, but those in engineering, business, and product. We’ll focus on taking a close look at how teams can work better together for greater impact.
Let’s take a look at how we got here: Over the past few years at Design Leadership Camp, we learned many insights that shaped our podcast slate. The first year, we heard leaders were focused on getting design a seat at the table—how to explain what design is and the opportunities it holds for business. The next year, it was the realization that visibility is only a part of the battle. The next step was learning the language of business to get resources and really deliver on design’s potential. Last year was all about operationalizing. Since so many design teams grew so quickly in such a small amount of time, design leaders needed help to effectively scale their work and better align to the business needs.
This year, we basically heard that it’s time for design to grow up. In the past, we’ve tended to be navel-gazey about our craft and what we make, but now, teams are leveling up their design maturity and collaborating with so many more aspects of business. We need to open our eyes to what other teams make and how they think, too.
So we’re focusing the podcast to be a useful tool in this quest. We have great episodes in the works on this topic, like one with Stephen Deasy, head of engineering at Atlassian, about the differences between how designers and engineers think and opportunities for collaboration. There’s also an interview with Naveen Gavini on his journey from engineering leader to design leader at Pinterest and his learnings from scaling a team in hypergrowth. And we also speak to Natalya Shelburne of The New York Times about the unnecessary divide between designers and developers and what she learned in her own move from design to dev.
All of the episodes are great, but I think the one with Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group is a standout. His grasp of product management and its role in the ecosystem is super powerful. He knows how to help designers work better with their product counterparts and vice versa, and how to get out of the spiral of calamity, chaos, and entropy.
As more design leaders have gotten a seat at the strategic table over the past few years, they’ve come to realize the importance of not just being design leaders, but being business leaders. There’s a lot of growing pains in this, and several of the interviews this season speak to it directly. Jehad Affoneh, Senior Director of Design at VMWare, talks about how he measures the impact of design, and how he aligns design goals with engineering goals. And Joanna Peña-Bickley, who heads up research and design for all the Alexa products, tells us how she speaks design in the language of business, and how she thinks about building a high-functioning team.
As design teams scale, DesignOps continues to be a hot topic. We chat with Kristin Wisnewski, VP of CIO Design at IBM, about how she built a DesignOps team that’s able to reach peak performance, and how she goes about clearing roadblocks for design in an agile environment.
There’s also a need to look outside the world of tech companies and large enterprises to get inspiration, and see how other types of organizations attack big challenges at scale—in this case, literal moonshots. This season, we talk to Steve Rader, NASA’s head of collaboration and innovation. He worked on multiple space missions and designed huge programs with multi-billion dollar budgets, and still had to work through many of the same issues we’re seeing other design leaders face today.
You can listen to the full podcast preview below:
It’s an exciting season, for sure, and we’re so grateful for your listening support. (In case you missed it, the podcast just celebrated its one millionth listen.) We’re looking forward to continuing on this journey together and, as always, feel free to tweet at us @InVisionApp or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the VP of Design Education at InVision, Aarron Walter draws upon 15 years of experience running product teams and teaching design to help companies enact design best practices. Aarron founded the UX practice at MailChimp and helped grow the product from a few thousand users to more than 10 million. His design guidance has helped the White House, the US Department of State, and dozens of major corporations, startups and venture capitalist firms. He is the author of the best selling book Designing for Emotion from A Book Apart. You'll find @aarron on Twitter sharing thoughts on design. Learn more at http://aarronwalter.com.