Year 2021 Reading Recap

Year 2021 Reading Recap

Photo credit:Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The year 2021 has undoubtedly been a challenging year. I recently read Bill Gate’s posting about the year 2021 in review. In his post, he said :

“When Paul and I were starting Microsoft, we had a vision that personal computers would one day play a significant role in people’s lives. But I don’t think either of us ever foresaw a future where they would be your only connection to the world. Like many people, there were entire days this year when the only human interaction I had was through a screen.”

It has been a challenging year for many people. Many people, including myself, had high hope that by 2021, our lives would be back to “normal”. Yet, we find the new norm is quite different from the “normal” we once knew. And the new normal looks very different for each individual. We learned to live with COVID, socialize through video chat, conduct our business, and attend conferences virtually. It has been very disorienting for many. But, on the bright side, we learned that technology is there to support the global connection. We are resilient. 

Mariel Maciá had put a Service Design selection of 2021 list together. I narrowing it down to an even shorter list to share with folks.

Let’s start with the basics

#1 What is service design

Year 2021 has been a

Virpi Oinonen has a great way to explain concepts with fun cartoon infographics.

#2 5 Ways to get the Most Out of Your Design Team

This one is for Ops. Some points of view I definitely can resonate with. 

  • Hire experienced design leaders who can advocate for design at the executive level
  • Take the handcuffs off design
  • Run experiments, lots of them (I can say our PD team has done just that, and benefited from many experiments we’ve run)
  • Have measurement mechanisms in place (We started, but can do much better in the coming year)
  • Encourage broad design adoption (Teaching and learning-encourage broad design adoption is the focus for 2022)

#3 Building a design-driven culture

According to this article by Mckinsey “It’s not enough to just sell a product or service—Companies must truly engage with their customers.” They break it down to a few practical steps

  1. Really understanding the customer
  2. Bring empathy to the organization
  3. Design in real time
  4. Acting quickly

#4 Forget “fail fast”

This exciting perspective replaces the mantra “Fail fast” with “Learn fast”. I enjoy this perspective very much. As I’m preaching for Build→ Measure → Learn, learning is the focus. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come naturally. The leadership needs to empower small, xfn teams to test their hypotheses, build, measure, and learn. I’ve written about the “swoop and poop” scenarios many teams, unfortunately, have experienced. The learning will not translate into actions until the teams are genuinely empowered to make informed decisions.

#5 To build more inclusive technology, change the design process

Inherent bias is hard to root out. As we went through an accessibility audit to address a contractual need, I asked the burning question: Are we doing it right? I don’t believe so.

Lessons we can learn here:

  • Design with excluded and diverse community, not for them.
  • Foster belonging through representation. (Ask whether the product privileges or tokenizes certain communities?)
  • Strengthen culture, straining, and processes. (Currently we are not getting the support for capacity, tools, and process. That is something needs to be in the culture with action. Not just talks.)
  • Establish accountability.
  • Normalize inclusion at a system level
  • Take Action, Together

#6 Superior Customer Experience, Only Possible Through Superior Employee Experience

This one resonates with me. Although I’ve written how exciting it is as DesignOps can be measured by “team happiness”, I’ve also posted a series of blogs about the critical elements of team happiness. As we talk about the great resignation 2021, employee retention is on top of the list of many Ops leaders. 

#7 Sahara Toilet

“The frame, the definition, is a type of context. And context, determines the meaning of things. There is no such thing as the view from nowhere, or from everywhere for that matter. Our point of view biases our observation, consciously and unconsciously. You cannot understand the view without the point of view.- Noam Shpancer”

#8 The next chapter in analytics: data storytelling

#9 What happens when data scientists and designers work together

As many other organizations, we are attempting to dial-up analytics “to turn the glut of enterprise data into actionable business insights.” But we know data is to tell the story. And sometimes, it can be a biased story. We can always be better use data to craft the story. As designers, how can we help to create inclusive data stories?

I hope you enjoy this reading list. I hope the list sparked engagement and good conversations. I am looking forward to 2022!

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