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Leading a design movement at a company can be an isolating experience. Introducing terms like "empathy" and coaxing teams to take more time for research is a tough task. You need guts to lead people through new ways of working and thinking at a huge company.
In Derek Sivers' TED talk, he calls leaders like these the "Lone Nuts". (Watch his 3-minute talk - it's worth it!) These "Lone Nuts" have courage to stand out, to nurture a following, and to work in a different way. Enterprise Experience 2019 felt like a meeting of the "Lone Nut" designers eager to connect and build something bigger.
So, what happens when you have several hundred "Lone Nut" designers together?
I am a "Lone Nut" designer, too. I proudly wear that badge after four years facilitating and designing at a large company. I joined MURAL in May to start helping others build creative confidence, too. This was an opportunity to learn from others about the design movement.
I found that most designers are also happy starting the design movement at their companies. They use their human-centered mindset to understand people's needs. Their nuttiness grants them permission to break conventions in a structured organization. Designers feel proud to be an exception rather than the rule at their company. It's a superpower.
When I met the LUMA Institute team at the conference, it was a joy to see this strength crafted into a practice. Their recipes and advice for driving team innovation confirms our movement. The design recipes and activities provided clear guidance and delight.
The nature of design work is tackling wicked problems. This is especially critical when dealing with the chaos of distributed teams, deadlines, and change.
Jim Kalbach, Head of Customer Experience at MURAL, showed us what a movement can be through jazz improvisation. Despite meeting his fellow bandmates just an hour before taking the stage, Jim and the musicians played a concert thanks to key elements: structure, trust, and focus on outcomes.
Designers need to be more than bold, but also strategic about the way we approach tackling challenges. Our methods and processes provide the foundation from where we can gain trust and give people permission to follow - even when it feels uncertain.
The "Lone Nut" designer is not a leader without followers. We bring the movement together through collaboration. In design, the followers become part of the action. Most enterprise designers are working on global teams, which adds complexity to collaboration. Since in-person meetings are so rare, I wondered: how are designers collaborating at scale?
At MURAL, we are working to make the design movement digital. We strengthen the movement by providing the tools and confidence to collaborate. Thomas Weis, a Digital Collaboration Expert at SAP, shared his experience shifting the movement to a digital space:
"Design is not a department. It's a mindset that brings people from around the world together. We can make that happen in a new way that includes people from across regions and silos." -Thomas Weis, Digital Collaboration Expert, SAP
Leaders in the design movement need to create a global design movement in their company. When the "Lone Nut" design leaders come together, we connect and find new ways to make collaboration possible. I'm grateful to be one of them - both a designer and a MURAL employee - transforming the way we work.