[Excerpt from an article I wrote for UX Magazine. Full article here.]
Everyone loves a hero. But what happens to
organizations when their heroic leaders retire?
Four years ago, Bruce Mau Design (BMD) faced this dilemma. The company’s infamous founder, Bruce Mau, left so that he could create a platform to address bigger global issues that were meaningful to him called the Massive Change Network. Those who remained at BMD and its new President and CEO, Hunter Tura, were presented with an interesting opportunity: reinvention.
Curious about the culture of BMD today, I interviewed Tura in his Toronto office. Here are some takeaways for teams and organizations from their evolution.
Rethink Your Mental Model
Bruce Mau Design was founded upon what Tura describes as the “Superman model,” which meant the founder was seen as the “creative auteur” of the company. Mau’s exit gave the BMD team an opportunity to rethink how they positioned themselves, what services they wanted to offer, and how they wanted to work together. Read the rest of the article here.
In short, everything.
Does your work culture make it challenging for your team or organization to do great work? Well this could be the year you make it better. Have a look at this talk I gave at Fluxible 2013 about the role and impact of culture on organizations…and tips for improving yours.
Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations
If this talk inspires you, perhaps you and a few folks from your team/organization might want to check out our newly launched 1-day Designing Culture Master Class at Cooper. This training aims to help people intentionally approach their team or organizational culture – through a cultural assessment, visioning and goal-setting exercises, and development of a tactical plan to improve their culture (some of the topics I hits on in my talk below). I’ll be facilitating this workshop along with Susan Dybbs, Managing Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, in our San Francisco offices on Friday, January 31st.
We are also offering Designing Culture in-house training for organizations that would benefit from having a larger group (management, teams, etc) go through this process together. Contact us at email@example.com for details.
For the last 6 months, I’ve been creating a short film, Amalga(mate), as part of a collaboration with Choreographer Stacey Printz and her dance company, Printz Dance Project. The entire project is about the concept of soul mates — are they real, how do you find them, what form do they come in, etc. The evening starts with an exhibition of my film + photography by Andre Hermann. Then everyone moves into the theater space for a dance performance by Printz Dance Project. The set alone is worth coming to see (designed by Sean Riley). I also interviewed 8 people about soul mates & audio clips from that conversation will be integrated into the film soundtrack and the live dance performance. Lastly, electronic music artist Kraddy is creating the music score for my film and the dance performance. This short video about the entire project that will give you a sense of all the players involved. Please come, and bring friends!
Dates: Dec 4-7
Location: Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Time: Exhibition from 7-8, Dance performance starts at 8. On Saturday Dec 7 there is also a matinee (3pm exhibit, 4pm dance performance).
Excerpt from a fun little interview I did with the Fluxible folk to promote a talk I’m doing at their conference, Sept. 14th: Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations. I’m really looking forward to this event; they are doing a great job of thinking of ways to make the experience much more fun and engaging than your average (boooooring) conference. You should come play with us in Canada!
We have to admit we have a bit of a crush on Teresa Brazen. This super talented multimedia whiz is a Design Education Strategist at Cooper, where she draws upon experiences from a wide range of disciplines to inspire curriculum, teach, and build community.
Teresa’s interest around questions like how we might invest in relational chemistry or integrate new team members have driven her most recent work on designing culture, a topic on which she has both spoken and blogged. She also uses film to explore her curiosities, some of which have been featured in galleries around the world, including the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
And oh yeah — did we mention she’s also a talented artist? Swoon! It’s easy to see why we’re thrilled to have Teresa joining us at Fluxible this year.
We recently chatted with Teresa about design, culture and a few things Canadian.
Q: What’s the one UX tool you couldn’t live without?
The honest answer is empathy. This industry has taught me a great deal about how to step outside of my own shoes so that I can really see and understand the experience of others. That has come especially handy in my culture work, because one of the foundations of a healthy team culture is having empathy for your collaborators. Really understanding what they need, their point of view, what they listen for in conversations. It’s funny — we spend an awful lot of time learning about users, but we don’t apply those same skill sets to the people we work with every day.
I’m thrilled to be a part of this episode of “Spark” (A show about culture and technology with the lovely host Nora Young, for those not familiar. It’s a popular show on CBC radio, essentially Canada’s NPR.). I discuss how workplace culture impacts the ability of teams to be creative/innovative – and what you can do about it. I’m on at about 25 minutes into the show.
Why it’s still as important as ever to build and nourish community online. Designing workplace culture to foster innovation. The NSA is watching you, what can you do? And, if this is the age of global connection, why are we still hanging out in our own digital backyards? Listen here.