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Better UX Can Start With Motivation and Management


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A UX professional has the power to heavily influence the success or failure of an entire business – product, service or otherwise. What we forget is that UX professionals are in fact human. We have the same or similar physical, emotional and experiential habits, outlooks and desires as the users we’re designing for. Humans design for humans. Therefore, it’s important to focus on the human, emotional aspect of our UX teams.

Successful design is built not just on our expertise, but our enjoyment in the craft of building itself.

By assessing and analyzing the UX designer as an individual versus the UX designer as a part of a team, this talk will explore and suggest uncommon but potentially vital themes in building and retaining creative inspiration inside a UX team.

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Better UX Can Start With Motivation and Management

  1. 1. • Imagine being surrounded by this - no phone, car, etc. • Moment like this: Clarity, delight, mystery, curiosity from moments like this. • This was a profound new experience for me. • We yearn for experiences because we want to feel emotion - it motivates and inspires us.
  2. 2. PATRICK BRANIGAN @pbranigan • Designer of 6 years in just about every area. • Experiences
  3. 3. @dockyard • Boston • UX consultancy that’s built on the forefront of Ember and elixir/phoenix technologies and rounds out with a phenomenal design and strategy team
  4. 4. SEATTLE • First time in Seattle: Has me motivated, inspired and emotionally driven (scared, excited, etc) • Similar mentality to when I returned from Iceland. • Is motivation, inspiration, emotion…are these things harnessed? Do they play an underlying role in our team’s evolution? • Emotion, inspiration and motivation = An abstract attribute to an overall experience.
  5. 5. ACTION • We (people in this room) = use motivation, inspiration, emotion, and instinct as an action. • …
  6. 6. REACTION • … • Users = use/display emotion as a reaction. • Cycle at work. • That’s what began my interest in focusing not just on users but on the makers of products and services…
  7. 7. BETTER UX Starting with motivation and management. • Managers & leaders – unique and powerful position. • Positioned to assess and leverage emotion, inspiration and motivation in those around us. • How can our attention to emotion, inspiration and motivation aid our good teams in making good work? • I began by looking at environments and processes
  8. 8. ENVIRONMENT “assembly line” • There’s this work environment… • Emotionally draining • i.e Go to work, drive our car, take the train, watch TV, sleep, etc.
  9. 9. ENVIRONMENT “laboratory” • Now I’m in a laboratory. • Emotionally driven - exploratory, experimental… • Processes, techniques, and approaches to work constantly shift and evolve.
  10. 10. DIFFERENT • Both environments and mindsets produce work, and often good work. • But they’re two very different mindsets. • Their emotions, motivations, and resulting inspirations can vary vastly. • This difference is represented by this diagram…
  11. 11. • It’s a map with a center and a perimeter - defined by the two work environments. • I use it to visualize the influence of emotion, inspiration and motivation on a UX team.
  12. 12. • In the center represents a routine environments. • Emotional input and output are low. • Decisions are calculated and repetitive and life is mechanized. • Remember the assembly line environment I spoke of?…
  13. 13. assembly line • That mindset exists here in the center. • This is what we try to disrupt
  14. 14. assembly line • The perimeter is the opposite. This is where complexity is at its greatest. • This is where experimentation lives and emotion plays a large part in the work environment. • Remember the laboratory environment I spoke of?
  15. 15. laboratoryassembly line • That mindset exists here. • I call this mindset… •
  16. 16. laboratory VERGE the • The verge… • I call it this because…
  17. 17. The limit or point at which new, groundbreaking ideas tend to occur. the verge • Represents the limit or point at which new, ground breaking ideas tend to occur. • This mindset yields greater work results because of its reliance on emotion, inspiration and motivation. • If I were to represent this with an image, it’d be with a familiar one…
  18. 18. THE VERGE • skip quick
  19. 19. the verge • This verge mindset’s reliance on emotion, inspiration and motivation leads to compelling action (remember the cycle). • It’s a mindset that feeds off discomfort, experimentation and risk. • where success and failure happens.
  20. 20. BUT HOW? • This might seem like a large intangible theory of sorts. • The reality is we’re we’re people working together to make things.. • We’ve got clients, budgets, time, personalities, red tape, etc. to worry about. • So while shifting or instilling a more creative mindset in a team sounds great, what are the realistic steps we can actually take to instill this verge mindset
  21. 21. Three parts: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • I address this question in three main parts. • We start by assembling a team that can venture toward the verge. • I’ll speak to some specific traits and commonalities we can look for when forming a team.
  22. 22. Three parts: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • Then, as we venture outward, how to get them together and moving? • I’ll speak to some overlooked stimuli that can help not only retain but grow a team who’s willing to explore.
  23. 23. Three parts: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • If we reach the verge, how do we stay in an oasis of creative thinking? • I’ll briefly examine the the relationship between ongoing morale motivation, as these are two ingredients to allowing your team to stay on the verge of greatness.
  24. 24. • Why us? • We’re not just designers, developers, managers, etc – we’re humans. • Managers – good position to motivate, inspire, and surveying emotion amongst our teams – and taking advantage of it!
  25. 25. Part 1: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • Assembling your team.
  26. 26. • Many ways to find talent: • Communities, referrals, contests, jobs, boards, etc. • All very metric. • They all filter into the same pattern…
  27. 27. RESUME • Nuggets of information that are helpful but it’s more standard practice than anything. RAPID FIRE
  28. 28. RESUME SCREEN • Validate the resume. • Good fit on paper? RAPID FIRE
  29. 29. RESUME SCREEN INTERVIEW • Looking for a personal connection. • You should want to bring this person in. RAPID FIRE
  30. 30. RESUME SCREEN INTERVIEW INTERVIEW (2) • Think of this as a second opinion. RAPID FIRE
  31. 31. RESUME SCREEN INTERVIEW INTERVIEW (2) INTERVIEW (3) • Perhaps you want the team’s opinion. • Over 50% of the reason for working somewhere is because of the people you’re surrounded with. RAPID FIRE
  32. 32. RESUME SCREEN INTERVIEW INTERVIEW (2) INTERVIEW (3) PRACTICAL • Put them to work. • There are many different ways to do this. RAPID FIRE
  33. 33. RESUME SCREEN INTERVIEW INTERVIEW (2) INTERVIEW (3) PRACTICAL • But we can accomplish a lot by combining all four of these by bring them into the office for a day or two. • Personality • Bonding with teammates • Hard skills such as communication and critical thinking • Their process • Organization and prioritization • Their comfort. When we bring them in, i’ve found 3 primary traits most beneficial to the verge…
  34. 34. PERSPECTIVE looking for • These are people who are willing to share feelings with a group and understand the feelings of others. • Insatiable curiosity about strangers: • They ask more questions than you. • They find people more interesting than themselves – often talking from a user’s standpoint. • They’re well traveled and obsessively listen to those around them. • They speak about what they’ve learned from different environments. • Their work is socially driven. • We want candidates on our UX teams to bring perspective to their work.
  35. 35. FAILURE looking for • This is a precursor to learning. These people put their work out there, knowingly open to failure and discomfort. • They aren’t protective or obsessive • They don’t speak to why something is right or good, but rather how they reached a point, how something is executed • They’re able to examine failure. • Studying success means they can be repetitive. Studying failure means they’re constantly adapting and learning. • This is done in aviation • We want candidates on UX teams who take pride in learning and adapting from failure.
  36. 36. EXPERIENCE looking for • These are people who have spent time in management, classrooms, directorial roles, which means they have a willingness to better a team, not solely themselves. • What do we look for? • They utilize “we” more than “I”. • Their background is in interests that may be unrelated. • Boston globe journalist becomes designer. • Psychology turned director • These aren’t dependent on sole sources. • We want candidates on UX teams who aren’t defined by “UX”.
  37. 37. SO WHAT? perspective, failure, experience… • Why are these so important? • skip quick +++
  38. 38. MAKES US HUMAN • They’re fundamentally human…as are your users
  39. 39. the verge • And when your entire team’s persona is built on these, you’re equipped with the empathy, honesty, and confidence. • This is going to showcase itself in the work made = great effect on users. • Precisely the character that will thrive in the verge mindset.
  40. 40. Part 2: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • We have our candidates. Put them together and get them going. • Begin building on your team members’ authority and authorship.. • And find ways to incentivize.
  41. 41. RETAIN INDIVIDUAL perspective, failure and experience • Individuals we can think of as single cells made up of these traits that we’ve defined. • It’s important to see how they translate to the entirety of the team…
  42. 42. RETAIN TEAM vision, education and inspiration • These traits define the organism - vision, education and inspiration • Your team members’ collective perspectives build and align the team’s vision that is the end goal. • Your team members’ collective failures inform one another and therefore educate the team. • Your team members’ collective experiences provide the team ongoing inspiration. • How do we incentivize these? • Notice that vision, education, and inspiration are not typically on the list of company benefits…
  43. 43. MONEY • (These don’t directly affect morale or motivation on a daily basis.) • autonomy, mastery and purpose
  44. 44. INSURANCES • These don’t directly affect morale or motivation on a daily basis. • Morale and motivation are two ingredients to leveraging your team.
  45. 45. VACATIONS • These don’t directly affect morale or motivation on a daily basis. • Morale and motivation are two ingredients to leveraging your team.
  46. 46. OPTIONS • Retirement, stocks, equity and other enticing options.
  47. 47. COMMON • They’re important but they’re not what’s going to position your team in that verge mindset.
  48. 48. UNCOMMON • We’ll call them uncommon incentives = they supplement vision, education, inspiration. • Let’s look at uncommon incentives in terms of team members, and the entirety of the team.
  49. 49. RETAIN INCENTIVESindividual the team uncommon • Uncommon incentives for individual = shapes motivation. • Uncommon incentives for team = result in morale. • And we’re going to find these are important in the glue of your teams success.
  50. 50. INDIVIDUAL uncommon incentives
  51. 51. INDIVIDUAL uncommon incentives WELLNESS • From natural light and ergonomics, to how employees are eating (Google) to fitness competitions. • +20% increase productivity - alertness, timeliness, task execution, etc • 10” bivis
  52. 52. INDIVIDUAL uncommon incentives WELLNESS LEARNING • Conferences are nice, but so are classes. Conferences lead to instrumental motives. • Classes allow learning by action.
  53. 53. INDIVIDUAL uncommon incentives WELLNESS LEARNING EVENTS • Companies host events but how often are the employees themselves in charge? • At Dockyard… • Increases engagement, social mentoring abilities, more collaboration.
  54. 54. INDIVIDUAL uncommon incentives WELLNESS LEARNING EVENTS RITUALS • Look to involve yourself in individual rituals that have a return benefit. • Getting coffee example. • Hallway Talks: lasted a year, people putting in time – comfort public speaking
  55. 55. TEAM uncommon incentives
  56. 56. TEAM uncommon incentives “SUCCESS” • Incrementalize success by celebrating small “proofs of learning” - focus on what is learned not what is launched. • Celebrating successes along the way keeps morale high.
  57. 57. TEAM uncommon incentives “SUCCESS” TEAM SIZE • Small teams lessen isolation and increase collaboration. • At DockYard we “pair”
  58. 58. TEAM uncommon incentives “SUCCESS” TEAM SIZE TITLES • Titles can be tricky. allow for them in order to retain hierarchy but not to dictate how work is being done and by who. • i.e. Valve and “flatland”
  59. 59. TEAM uncommon incentives “SUCCESS” TEAM SIZE TITLES DM’S • NOT DIRECT MESSAGES :) • Decision makers! Empower them! • Designers, developers, etc are decision makers. Put them in the rooms in the beginning.
  60. 60. INCENTIVES importance of uncommon • Why are these important? • They’re achievable ways to helps builds motivation in individuals and morale in the entirety of the team.
  61. 61. the verge • They’re going to help position your team in the verge mindset. • And it’s going to inform the relationship between motivation and morale.
  62. 62. Part 3: ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • So let’s talk about these two - motivation and morale. • Let’s examine the relationship and importance of these two in leveraging your team and keeping them in that greater creative mindset.
  63. 63. RETAIN MOTIVATION The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. • This is the actual definition of motivation. • Often an individual concept = that’s how I look at it.
  64. 64. RETAIN MOTIVATION Reason for engaging in some behavior. • This is my definition. • …likely because of potential outcome. • Super important because the motivation of one individual CAN be different than the next.
  65. 65. RETAIN MORALE The confidence, enthusiasm or discipline of a group at a particular time. • This is the actual definition of morale.
  66. 66. RETAIN MORALE The overall attitude of a group. • This is my definition. • …likely because of potential outcome. • Representative of entire team. • Super important because if the entirety of the team’s attitude is not so good, the work could be good – front.
  67. 67. MOTIVES instill MORALE survey • Up to managers to instill motives and survey morale. • Think of motivation as the drive and morale as the result. • If morale is not good = look at individual motivations. • Interesting part about motivation – there’s two parts: internal and instrumental motive.
  68. 68. INTERNAL • Internal: This is motivation that links goals and activities. • i.e. A baseball player participates in batting practice in order to become a better hitter in the game.
  69. 69. INSTRUMENTAL • Instrumental: This is motivation that does not link goals and activities. • i.e. A baseball player might participate in batting practice with the goal of becoming the highest paid player in the game.
  70. 70. i.e. Photo by Matthew Yohe • This guy set out with a vision of computers being able to exist in every household, so he began building a computer that was able to exist in a household. • Internal motive led to internal consequence. Goal and activity are linked. • He didn’t make a computer for a household to become a genius, or most profitable CEO.
  71. 71. Amy Wrzesniewski, Barry Schwartz, Xiangyu Cong, Michael Kane, Audrey Omar, Thomas Kolditz • Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. • Analyzed data from 11,320 cadets at West Point. They rated sets of motives ranging from being trained to be in the United States Army (internal) to getting a better job later in life (instrumental) • Found: Stronger the internal motives were, the more likely they were to graduate as officers, and do better in the military. • Found: Those with strong internal and instrumental motives performed significantly worse on every measure.
  72. 72. RETAIN “A conscientious student learns and gets good grades.” Amy Wrzesniewski, Barry Schwartz, Xiangyu Cong, Michael Kane, Audrey Omar, Thomas Kolditz • This is an internal motive with an instrumental consequence.
  73. 73. RETAIN “A skilled doctor cures patients and makes a good living.” Amy Wrzesniewski, Barry Schwartz, Xiangyu Cong, Michael Kane, Audrey Omar, Thomas Kolditz • Just because there might exist internal and instrumental consequences does not mean the people who thrive in these activities have internal and instrumental motives. • Just because your product has 50M likes, doesn’t mean your team is happy or producing their best work. Resulting morale might not be high.
  74. 74. MEANING • Always remember your team’s reasons and intentions. Their work is meant to be meaningful. • This means we should make sure the activities amongst our teams are structured so that instrumental consequences don’t in fact become motives. • Focus on instilling internal motives in order to better increase team’s morale. • Do this often…
  75. 75. IMPACT • Succinctly showcase to your team why your work is benefiting other human beings. • This is motivating. This is morale boosting.
  76. 76. VISION • Remind your team of the future. Contrast what is with what could be, in order to help keep their perspectives sharp. • This is motivating. This is morale boosting.
  77. 77. EXPERIMENT • Find time to experiment and tinker no matter the situation. • Explain DockYard Fridays. • This is motivating. This is morale boosting.
  78. 78. MENTOR • Take time to teach, not to prove. • Allow your team to be self directive. • This is motivating. This is morale boosting.
  79. 79. CHANGE • Important to remember change is okay - even necessary. • Starts > grows > matures > declines • Better chance of avoiding decline if you can position yourself in a more verge-like mindset. • Take some risks, go after unfamiliar territory, fail and learn a bit. • This is motivating. This is morale boosting.
  80. 80. MOTIVES collectively produce MORALE • This is the glue to sustaining the verge mindset.
  81. 81. the verge • Remembering this will allow you, as managers, to continue to help your team leverage that mindset • Continue pushing your boundaries, and achieving just about anything you can imagine.
  82. 82. THE VERGE ASSEMBLE RETAIN LEVERAGE • Verge idea: this creative mindset to position our teams in. • Assemble: perspective, failure, experience as traits to looks for. • Retain: How these translate to the entire team as - vision, education, inspiration - and how we can incentivize them. • Leverage: Relationship between motivation and morale - the focus on internal motives and their resulting morale.
  83. 83. THANK YOU @pbranigan / @dockyard #UXPA2016 | • I hope this at least inspires you to • Ask questions of your team. • Observe how fairly simple shifts in your teams’ mentality may benefit the output of your teams and success of your companies. • Any questions, you can start conversation on Twitter. • Interested in working with or joining dockyard simply reach out. • Thank you guys