Would you come to a business design conference in the U.S.?

Cumulus has planned a conference titled Design Thinking & Innovation: Towards an Asian Perspective in Singapore with Victor Margolin as keynote speaker…

…debating about these topics are a challenge for a symposium aspiring to offer an egression, not a series of positional parametric rhetoric on design issues, but a kind of cynosure to engage, postulate and clarify divergent views on design thinking and innovation, particularly from an Asian perspective.

I think a similar event held in the U.S. — based around discussion rather than presentations — on the topic of business, design, and innovation would be well-received. If it happened, would you go?

Interaction Design as Language Design?

Marc Rettig, one of the most thoughtful practioners in the user experience world, will be in New York next month discussing Interaction Design is Language Design

…The notion of a “design language” has been with us for years, but if we take the idea seriously, perhaps ideas and frameworks from linguistics can help us design better interfaces. The goal of the topic is to create a grounded practice using the explored principles. The seminar is not meant to be a completed theory, but a work in progress that participants get to explore with Marc during the seminar and after on their own work.

MIG Seminar in Vancouver, March 23

We’ll be teaching a full-day seminar prior to the IA Summit called Enhancing Your Strategic Influence: Understanding and Responding to Complex Business Problems. I’ll be joined by John Zapolski and Scott Hirsch of MIG, Harry Max (formerly of Dreamworks), and Mark McCormick (Director of Design at Wells Fargo).

We’ve been designers. And we’ve partnered with companies to work through tricky business issues. Now we want to return to the design community and teach the many skills we’ve learned.

Here’s the official description:

While the skill level of the average information architect has increased dramatically over the last several years, many IAs still lack the tools necessary to understand and articulate the broader implications of their work within a complex and dynamic business environment. The most successful information architects are better at recognizing the roots of strategic change and opportunity, assessing the potential impacts on their organization, and determining what to do and who to involve in getting it done.

This workshop introduces participants to a new way of thinking about cause and effect in complex organizations—within functional groups, across departments, beyond business units, and across industries. Participants come away with a set of tools to identify social, cultural, economic, and technological change, match products to emerging and changing markets, develop strategies to capture market value, and change organizational capabilities to reflect changing market and technological dynamics. Special attention is given to learning how to create and maintain a workplace and culture that facilitate and sustain innovation and change.

Here are some of the basic questions that we will help participants answer, both in general and in the context of their companies:

  • What is a business model? A value proposition? A business strategy?
  • Given my role, what contribution am I making to my company’s success?
  • How does IA/UX deliver value in my company’s business model and value proposition?
  • How do I determine how to choose my battles wisely: which high-value projects to push and which can stay on the back burner?
  • How do I say “no” to bad projects? What language will be most convincing to my management and stakeholders?
  • How can I get more visibility for IA/UX in my company? How do I build alliances with like-minded stakeholders?
  • How do other functions typically understand business problems, and how does that compare to the IA perspective?

This session is designed specifically for managers and leaders who seek to use IA as a strategic tool to understand and influence organizational change. While a deep knowledge of advanced IA principles is not necessary for this session, participants should be willing to explore their roles as leaders and change agents within their organizations.

Types of attendees most likely to find this workshop compelling include:

  • Managers of IA/UX teams
  • Product Managers
  • Entrepreneurs seeking to build a culture that values IA/UX design
  • IA/UX practitioners who report to a non-designer manager
  • Anyone who aspires to enhance their role as an internal change agent

Full-on cocktails, plus panel discussion, Feb 28 in NYC

If you’ll be in New York at the end of February you should consider attending the Design 2.0 day of presentations and panel discussion on strategy, design, brand, product, service, customer experience, and all things innovation. Also, full-on cocktails. Among the speakers will be Andrew Zolli, of whom I’ve written, “If you ever get a chance to hear Andrew Zolli make sure you do.” So really, no reason not to go. See you there!

Designers and cultural influence

I’m at the New Challenges retreat in upstate New York this weekend. Whereas the last retreat was unexpectedly diverse by background, this one has attracted a geographically diverse audience, both ex-pats living on the East coast as well as visitors from Europe. Pouring rain is expected all weekend, so I expect folks to hunker down into a long stream of conversations.
So far there’s been a lot of explicit mention of organizational culture in the presentations, influenced by everything from translation to business process change. Talking through the MIG “trailmarker” model has resonated with folks who are seeing the bigger ramifications of product and process work. A longer explanation can be found in Design [is not a] Strategy.

IA Leadership Seminar

The early registration deadline for the Information Architecture Institute’s Leadership Seminar is January 28th. If you sign up now you’ll get a significant discount for this star-studded event, 1 ½ days including:

  • “Managing Up: The Business Strategy of Information Architecture” – Christina Wodtke and Scott Hirsch
  • “The Enterprise IA Roadmap” – Louis Rosenfeld
  • ”Homeland Security and IA” – Lee S. Strickland, JD
  • “Practical Application of the Semantic Web” – Paul Ford
  • “The State of Global IA” – Livia Labate, Peter Van Dijck, Jorge Arango
  • “Hands-On Scenario Planning: Looking to the Future to Shape Decisions Today” – Jess McMullin

For more information about the seminar, please check the Institute’s website at http://www.aifia.org/news/ or to register for both the Seminar and the IA Summit, go to http://www.iasummit.org.

IA Geek Weekend

I’m so looking forward to the Future of Information Architecture retreat. It’s two days of listening, talking, eating, drinking, walking through the woods and along the beach, with a little partying thrown in for good measure. I’ll be facilitating a session to create design patterns, a group exercise exploring how each of us approaches design management problems like sync’ing design change with business change and finding time to do research.

I think it’ll be a great time to flex the mind and the body, all without hurting the pocket (I found a roommate, so it’s only $221 for both days including three square meals a day). I’ve heard there’s still a few places left too, so all this can be yours.

IA Summit 2003

The 2003 IA Summit is now over, and again it was a wonderful affair filled with friends, interesting presentations, and a bit of the ol’ controversy. As Peter Merholz said during the five-minute madness, there was no where else I would have rather spent that weekend than among these friends. Highlights for me:

Stewart Brand’s keynote was great. Having already read How Buildings Learn and Clock of the Long Now not much was new to me, but hearing him deliver the ideas in person, with new stories to embellish the ideas, was a fantastic experience. Apparently he’s made the houseboat sea worthy again and takes it out for a spin once a month, even winning a race against another tugboat.

The panel on spatial navigation gave me a lot to chew on, since revisiting fundamental assumptions about navigation is where my head is at these days. Mark Bernstein reminded us not to bother trying to remove inherent complexity. Andrew Dillon tantalized with a model that acknowledges that there is a visual element to information seeking, but suggests semantics of links are more important. His idea of information shape is fleshed out in some of his earlier papers.

Bernstein later tried hard to anger the crowd with his condemnation of information architects, but I think everyone was too mesmerized by his gorgeous presentation while realizing some of his criticism was fair: we need to consider the larger view of user experience as physical architects do, start making beautiful, pliant, artifacts, and stop only whining about what’s wrong. Jesse echo’d this last sentiment during the five-minute madness, asking if we might celebrate our successes more often.

Ontologies, an unknown concept at last year’s conference, finally made their formal appearance, and met with mostly enthusiastic response.

I’ll not-so-humbly say that the AIfIA Leadership Seminar was a great success. The name and description probably encouraged the experienced folks to self-select into this group and raised the level of discourse. Peter Morville pointed out that what we create must live and function on into the future, and therefore we must be futurists and think strategically, considering what scenarios could befall us. My CMS presentation happily generated a great deal of conversation. Rashmi’s survey of research methods blew my mind with ways of applying psychology and statistics to improve our everyday design and usability tools. Finally Karen McGrane and Lou Rosenfeld offered savvy advice for selling IA, managing to address ROI without suspect formulas.

The theme of “Making Connections” proved valuable, bringing new faces like Mark Bernstein, Chris Fahey, and Simon Wistow into the fold.

Some of the happy shiny peeps I met for the first time: Anne, Dan, Lillian, and Susan.

More on the Summit blog