Teaching Change Management Through Design at CIID

I haven’t posted in awhile but I have some news to share.

Most of what I want to say I’ve already shared on LinkedIn but I’ll repost it here for convenience.

I’ll be teaching the CIID Change Management Through Design course alongside Mary Wharmby taking place remotely between 21 March to 7 April, 2022.

I was part of the first cohort when Mary and Grace Ascuasiati kickstarted it years ago and I’ve have hugely benefitted from it since that time.

And since then the course has evolved to include a blend of perspectives from strategy, systems thinking and strategic design… without losing focus on what’s important: people.

I feel fortunate to be invited to teach alongside Mary and we are both now working hard to update parts of the course to make it more even relevant for change practitioners to tackle complex, ambiguous and continually changing nature of change within organisations through design.

If this the sort of work you are tackling and this is up your street, we hope you can join us.

I also want to extend thanks to Mary, Grace and all of the contributing partners alongside CIID who have made the course what it is today. And thanks for allowing me to be part of its continuing journey!

Original post on LinkedIn

Lego Builder’s journey on Apple Arcade

LEGO® Builder's Journey on Steam

We got a free 3 month access to Apple Arcade and I’ve so far enjoyed Sayonara Wild Hearts and Lego’s Builder’s Journey – which has had a special appeal to me since I enjoyed both Monument Valley 1 and 2.

You play a lego character and solve puzzles on each isometric level. There’s a bit of a narrative going on, but in the end, that’s pretty much it. The music really suits the tempo of the game too.

It’s really well done and good for the soul.

Contributing to things…

I’m in the process of finishing up some reflections from a FutureLearn course I took on service design… watch out for an update on that. And it’s going to be published in conjunction with the Service Design Advent Calendar organised by Jason Mesut and Niclas Ljungberg — see the first post from Andy Polaine which has gone out just today!

Interestingly, I’ve also contributed to a few other things in the last few months which I can’t quite announce yet but I’m really excited to see when it launches… touching on some topics like sketchnotes and Roam, which I wrote about recently. Watch this space.

All this seems to have cropped up quite suddenly towards the end of the year. Maybe it’s a sign that the COVID season seems to be moving past a phase-of-sorts. It’s refreshing and prompting me to unpick at my dusty list of side-project ideas waiting for attention. If not for my love for energy conservation…

My work from home setup

It’s been 2 years since I started improving up my home office setup to aid productivity and ergonomics. Just before the lockdown happened, I had decided to work from home more often. I was working with colleagues who were based in the US or Europe, so being in the office wasn’t really necessary. But when COVID hit, work from home wasn’t optional anymore.

I started out with a not-too-large 120 x 60 cm IKEA table top and popped it on a height adjustable table frame, then added a decent monitor – the LG 27UL650, a felt table mat. And for awhile, I worked directly off my macbook and the attached external monitor, and after my wife started upgrading her setup to function more ergonomically, I started getting ideas.

I had a spare anglepoise arm lamp which I propped up onto a TEE bookshelf which I had lying around. That gave me enough working light in my otherwise dim north-facing British box room. I also installed a magnetic whiteboard, although I admit it’s not got much use since I capture most of my things on software these days. For some reason, I still like having it next to me.

Then I decided to move to a separate mouse-and-keyboard setup, and added a Logitech K380 keyboard and a spare Apple Magic Mouse I had lying around.

Despite the anglepoise lamp next to me, I found myself really struggling with the lighting situation. I was really tired looking at screens the whole day, and I was looking for solutions. After awhile, I found the BENQ screenbar plus, which I’d never thought of before but after some research and consideration, took the plunge and now I can’t live without it. It’s made such a huge difference making my environment conducive for the work hours.

Later, I switched from a magic mouse to a trackpad, which was also a big ergonomic upgrade for me.

I also added a few small creature comforts over time. During the summmer months when it got quite warm and sweaty, I bought a little clamp USB fan which was good enough to cool me down or help the air move a little bit. Then I recently bought a cheapy desk clock and a magnetic alarm to help me not get too sucked into the screen and countless app and browser windows.

But I think I’ve crossed a line now — I’ve just bought a podcast USB microphone (the Fifine K390). I’ve yet to really use it for recordings and demos, which was the main reason I bought it. It feels like a luxury purchase, but I suppose remote calls are not going to go away anytime soon.

I went back to the office for the first time since lockdown

I’ve been comfortably working from home since lockdown started since I’ve never really needed to be in the office.
My colleagues are based in different parts of the world, commuting sucks up too much time, and I’m more productive at home.

Friday actually started out with as a plan to meet a friend up in the city at the closest major station to me, which wouldn’t require me to go all the way to the centre. Then, Virgin Media alerted me of possible broadband disruptions. Then, my colleague Phyllis was going to bake muffins. And I just happened to need 2 simultaneous witnesses to help sign some documents so 3 of my London-based colleagues would fit the bill. So the office gods were putting the pressure that day and that’s how I ended up in the office.

I had a lot of fun! I wasn’t very productive, but it was really good seeing everyone… chatting over muffins, doing team lunch, running design huddles around a screen, jumping into a room with a big whiteboard… stuff you typically don’t do at home. I did one zoom call, that was about it. And some slides. It was a good call for an important piece of work I’m leading. But it didn’t need me in the office for that.

I could see myself doing the odd one-day-a-month thing. I’d probably want to maximise my office time for group-related stuff. I wouldn’t do office for office sake. This is all the typical stuff you see everywhere, I’m just really late to the game.

I like the flexibility. I like the productivity. I also like meeting people. I like having options. It makes a lot of sense, and only nonsense if you’ve been trapped in a bubble the whole time and woken up from a time machine after years of cryogenic sleep.

This made me think a bit about climate change. The reason why we’re having so much trouble with that is that we don’t really feel climate change like you do COVID infections. And it’s likely that many of us in privileged positions won’t feel obligated or motivated to change for the climate at a visceral level. It simply doesn’t affect us at that level.

It affects our conscience and morals, sure. But that’s not the same as experiencing death from climate change which few of us suffer from. So, I wonder if the only way is start with what we do struggle with (moral, conscience) and gradually force ourselves to suffer by changing and letting go parts of our “old” lives….. getting rid of the car, replacing the boiler, paying more money to install solar panels, installing water and heating limiting devices, travelling less…

Maybe the problem is that we’ve been framing change as a motivation-oriented thing (e.g. obligation to do our bit). Maybe, somewhat counter-intuitively, we need to frame it as a phased mourning which doesn’t kill us but lets us pragmatically accept that we have no way but to let go of the past, and one step at a time, adjust over to a different way of living…. and in that process, find ways of dealing with those negative emotions over time.

A forced mourning that lines up with the time cadence of the planet’s change rate, which works to a different beat to our daily cycles. A forcing of lost hope so that we can let go of whatever things we’ve been clinging on to, hoping for an easy way to transition out.

I think we severely lack coping mechanisms. Everyone is hoping for a nice, smooth transition to a future, more sustainable life. All of us are scared to let go. I’m scared to let go.

Maybe this is what’s missing – a space for dialogue about coping, mourning together, accepting that the loss is real even if we don’t feel the climate effects, and somehow cobbling together a new life bit by bit… accepting that not everything has been worked out yet, but pressing on anyway.

Maybe we can start by finding ourselves… the mourners. The copers. The ones at neither ends of extremes.

Mindfulness via Duolingo and Action For Happiness calendars

I don’t do well with mindfulness apps. Actually, I don’t do very well with mindfulness exercises. I’ve learnt it, I’ve done it, I think it’s good, and I’ve benefit from them. I just can’t get into the habit of doing it.

So instead, I’ve replaced it with Duolingo. It’s not the same thing, mindfulness and learning a new language… but it helps me keep my mind off things and distracts me in a way that gives me nourishment.

I started using it heavily back when I was travelling to France and French-speaking Canada and I wanted to learn some basic French. Then I lost the habit, but the nice thing about having Duolingo is that you can pick up from where you left sort of.

It’s ironic that I find Headspace quite competitive and stressful (be mindful! now! breathe! 30 seconds! relax! now!) which is not what it’s supposed to be. I find thinking about Headspace more stressful than thinking about Duolingo.

🤷‍♂️

However, there’s one app I absolutely love, which is great for mental health and requires very low intervention. It’s from Action For Happiness, who do monthly calendars and has an app that sends you daily advice from their calendars, but the app is also used for people to share encouragement and reflections with one another around each day’s advice. Every day I get the day’s piece of advice and each time I read it, I do feel better about life and so on.

No clicking. No breathing. No timers.

It’s simple, it works, and it’s free!

I like free things that work well. The world should have more of these things.

Like fresh air and sunshine.

Dad’s night out

I just got back from the very first dad’s night out: a pub meet of all the dads from our kids’ class.

It’s a first-time-for-everything moment — the first time you decide to have a child, the first time you witness your child being born from your wife’s womb, the first time your kid goes to school, and the first time the dads from all the kids in the same class agree to meet in a pub (for me, anyway).

I met a lot of interesting people. A dad who works to address juvenile crime, a dad who deals with pensions programmes for UK universities, a dad who installs security systems but used to be a secondary school teacher…

All of us had in common our children who were all from the same class, and lived in the area.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from today’s night out, but I certainly wasn’t expecting for it to be this memorable and desirable.

Discovery muscle over means

Lisa, one of our talented UX researchers on our team, organised a “discovery methods” learning session today. It was really refreshing to have everyone come together and go through the various approaches we’ve used in the past. There’s no one right way to run a discovery, so it’s always valuable to have a broad set of tools, and most importantly, lots of experience trying different things out to see what works.

Sometimes coming back to old resources sheds new light on its meaning. One of the articles we put in our list was Will Myddleton’s “Three Ways to Run Better Discoveries“, which didn’t really resonate with me the first time I read it. It made more sense this time round, especially when I consider how discovery would likely be done at GDS. In this sense, discovery is a set of activities that takes place as part of a sensemaking exercise to figure out what to do next.

But discovery to me feels less like a “phase” and more of a continuous, never ending endeavour. In fact, I like to think of it as an organisational muscle, which grows stronger over time as we become more capable in navigating and building successfully towards ambiguous futures.

Sometimes I like to call this a “muscle over means” thing… where it’s less important how things are done to get to the right outcomes, and more important than the road is travelled together and done continuously and habitually.

The more often you do discovery, the more aware you become of the sensemaking process, the more natural it becomes, the less religious you need to be about tools and methods.

It’s very much a people / context thing, and that there is never one right way to run discoveries. Or three. Or whatever. It really depends on your situation and where you are along the journey. That’s precisely what designers need to get better at figuring out.

It’s a muscle, not a means.

Centaurworld

Today, I got hooked on Centaurworld, Netflix’s new animated comedy series which appeared on my son’s feed despite it being very oddly shaped next to Puffin Rock, Super Monsters, True & the Rainbow Kingdom and The Storybots (which I highly approve of).

The mash up of war horse, centaurs, quests, silliness and songs shouldn’t work, but it does. For me, anyway. And I don’t even like watching TV.

A hardened war horse transported away from battle finds herself in a land that’s inhabited by silly, singing centaurs of all shapes and sizes.

I enjoyed reading this review from Kidscreen, which goes behind the scenes a bit with its creator, Megan Nicole Dong, who has infused various skills and talents acquired from her varied theatre / movie / animation backgrounds into the show.