Collaborative Design: Lean UX is Haaaard

I gave a talk to the good people at Lean UX SF last night about the challenges UX people face moving their company cultures towards a collaborative design model.

I gave a case study from my work integrating collaborative design at Recurly (along with Andy Montgomery). The audience was nicer than they needed to be for my first public speaking engagement, as was the organizer Mike Long and host Arseni Harkanou (at Über Experience).

What motivated the talk was curiosity about the stumbling blocks I was facing, and whether other UX people were facing similar challenges. I’m generally a reserved guy, and the new model for collaborative design requires strengths in leadership, influence, and persuasion. Basically, all the things they don’t teach you in design school.

I conducted a survey (which you can still take here) to analyze how difficult it was for UX people to implement collaborative design models over time, as well as the specific stumbling blocks they ran into. The TL;DR is that everyone finds collaborative design pretty difficult, and the most challenging aspects were things like entrenched waterfall culture, geographic separation, and changing people’s minds.

I might do a post in the future breaking down the results more thoroughly. Here’s the slide deck from the presentation. (The bummer about slideshare is it doesn’t show animated gifs. To get the full effect of this first slide, look at this first.)

Hi, I'm Zac Halbert. I'm a digital product designer and lifelong learner living in San Francisco, California with my wife, son, and sheepdog. I currently run the Product Design & UX track at Tradecraft, where we train smart people to succeed in traction roles at high-growth startups.

I also own independent product design consultancy Scout Hawk Product Design Studio, where I help entrepreneurs turn hazy ideas into concrete digital products, and Foliotwist, a portfolio and marketing SaaS company for visual artists. I also advise a number of companies on the intersection of user experience design, product design and management, and rapid prototyping and idea validation that draws heavily from the Lean Startup philosophy.

My background is a mixture between formal graphic design and fine arts education, mixed with a long history of self-taught frontend programming skills. I began to learn HTML, CSS, and UI design at age 12 (I was a huge nerd), and got my first job as a web designer at age 15 — and have been doing it and loving it ever since. I eventually got my degree in graphic design, but have diverse interest in nearly every field that blends technical and creative work.

While I'm not very good at keeping my portfolio or blog up to date, I always love connecting with fellow designers, entrepreneurs, and developers. Here are just a few of the companies I've had the pleasure to work with.