I love to share ideas, connect with curious people, and instigate dialogue through public speaking. Here are a few of the topics I’ve spoken about at conferences:

The sad state of news media, the hunt for good content & more on UX Discovery Sessions

In this episode of UX Discovery Sessions, Gerard Dolan and I talk about some of the workshops I teach at Cooper (Design Leadership, Designing Culture, UX Boot Camp), what’s been happening with news content (the sad degradation of it), some sources I like for better content/stories, and my fantasy of creating a designing culture conference for startups. Thanks, Gerard, for a lovely conversation!

What’s Culture Got to Do With It?

In short, everything.

Does your work culture make it challenging for your team or organization to do great work? Well this could be the year you make it better. Have a look at this talk I gave at Fluxible 2013 about the role and impact of culture on organizations…and tips for improving yours.

Make Culture, Not War: The Secret to Great Teams & Organizations

If this talk inspires you, perhaps you and a few folks from your team/organization might want to check out our newly launched 1-day Designing Culture Master Class at Cooper. This training aims to help people intentionally approach their team or organizational culture – through a cultural assessment, visioning and goal-setting exercises, and development of a tactical plan to improve their culture (some of the topics I hits on in my talk below). I’ll be facilitating this workshop along with Susan Dybbs, Managing Director of Interaction Design at Cooper, in our San Francisco offices on Friday, January 31st.

We are also offering Designing Culture in-house training for organizations that would benefit from having a larger group (management, teams, etc) go through this process together. Contact us at cooperu@cooper.com for details.

Designing Culture: New Ways to Think About Work

How might we…

  • invest in relational chemistry?
  • encourage personal leadership?
  • integrate new team members?
  • gain alignment around vision?

These are just a few of the questions I pushed a thoughtful group of folk to explore (with the aid of the fabulous Kendra Shimmell. Thanks, Kendra!) in July’s Cooper Parlor, Designing Culture. The evening was focused on ways to be intentional about creating a creative culture and work environment. 70 attendees from design, digital technology, city government, engineering firms, art museums and more shared their desires, challenges, and experiences in shaping the culture of their workplaces.

We also looked at case studies of companies taking  innovative approaches to culture, such as:

  • Morning Star’s practice of asking staff to write personal mission statements for how they will help the company achieve its goals (side note: they don’t have managers; they are beholden to their mission statement and one another). Read more about them in this fantastic article by Gary Hamel.
  • Whirlpool’s “The Real Whirled”  (yes, a play on MTV’s The Real World) deep-immersion onboarding program. Seven new employees lived in one house outfitted in Whirlpool products for 2 months, visited manufacturing plants, research centers, stores, service calls, and more, to gain a deeper understanding and empathy for customers and colleagues.
  • Salesforce’s Personal Excellence Program, based on the philosophy that when staff value personal development, teams benefit. Select staff focus on an area of personal development for eight months through facilitated groups and individual coaching.

We all walked away from this Cooper Parlor with new ways to think about work. See for yourself in the video of the event below, and if you feel so inspired, share a culture tip or trick in the comments so we can all benefit and grow from your knowledge. If  your team would benefit from a workshop like this one, drop us a line about custom training at cooperu@cooper.com. We love making house calls. 

Designing Culture at Interaction 13

I had an amazing opportunity to lead a group of designers and managers through a Designing Culture workshop at the Interaction 13 conference this year. They dug into their team/organization culture, their current impact upon it, and uncovered opportunities to make change. Then, they created new practices to take back to work and try out (gleaned from examples of experiments that other companies are trying, techniques they heard from other participants, and individual brainstorming exercises).

Here’s a 1 minute snapshot to give you an idea of what the day was like:

And here is just one of the fabulous participants (the lovely Angel Anderson) who made the experience so special (with a worksheet of new practices).

Thanks to the Interaction Design Association for the opportunity to meet such great people and help them cultivate healthier, more engaged cultures.

The Great UX Debate

Are designers responsible for the impact of their work upon human behavior?
Is it actually possible to create “connected” experiences across devices?
Do designers need to speed up, or do stakeholders need to slow down?

In January, Angel Anderson, Mikkel Michelsen, Robb Stevenson, Lou Lenzi, Donald Chestnut, and I poked and prodded at these topics during the Interaction 13 conference. About 500 people attended the debate, and they threw their own perspectives into the mix in the latter part of the conversation. Have a listen in the video below.

(And thanks to SapientNitro for the opportunity to meet such interesting people, expand my own perspective, and make use of what I learned on my high school debate team. Ha!)

Intentional Environments: Designing a Culture of Co-Creation

from Adaptive Path’s UX Week Conference

Design doesn’t happen inside a vacuum. It happens inside teams, inside the context of relationships, inside physical spaces, inside organizations with very particular cultures. Ignore that intricate ecosystem, and you might as well give your project a death sentence.

In this talk, Teresa Brazen and Kate Rutter draw from their experience bringing this holistic outlook to the design process. Pulling from methods used in filmmaking, fine art, design research, facilitation, improv, and UX design, they craft “intentional environments” for their teams and clients. These literal and figurative environments cultivate work that is actionable, co-created, co-owned, and much more likely to succeed in the world.

They discuss the benefits of intentional environments and walk you through how to design them and methods for keeping them activated throughout the design process. You’ll walk away understanding how to cultivate intentionality, co-create without compromising output, and inspire teams and clients along the way. But more importantly, you’ll have a powerful new framework that will enrich your entire design process.

VIDEO OF TALK (20 min)


Tools & Methods to Learn the User Experience Design Landscape

from the Big (D)esign Conference

Coming from outside the user experience (UX) industry and landing smack in the belly of the beast, Teresa knows how fresh eyes can be an asset. In her talk, she will present three creative approaches to understanding and navigating the sea of methods and concepts that make up the User Experience practice, while embedding yourself as a key player in the UX industry. She comes from the perspective that ‘It’s okay not to know everything about User Experience yet’ (most people don’t know what it is, anyway!) and reveals some simple, creative ways to learn about the interesting processes, methods and practices that make up the field.

Tools & Methods include:

1] Maps of Knowledge: Diagrams that allow you to visually see what you know about the industry, what you don’t know, and areas where you can supplement what you already know (if you’re already a UX professional) or what you learned in school (if you’re a soon-to-be UX professional).

2] Get to Know the Pros: Building your network is as simple as taking advantage of resources around you. Teresa will share how her podcast, TeaWithTeresa.com, allows her to learn about UX methods and practice from the people that created the field or made huge waves in the industry. She will also share key things you can do to build your own network within the field.

3] Building A Personal Brand: A personal brand means you’re known for something and helps you stand out in a crowd. Whether you’re a student or an experienced UX professional, growing your personal brand will make a difference for your career. Teresa will provide you with tools to help you uncover what you have to offer, create a mantra (What do you care about?) and will share videos from others who have created strong personal brands within the UX community.