Managing Experience 2014 by Adaptive Path

Managing Experience is a 2 day conference hosted by Adaptive Path.
Here’s the emergent themes from the last four years of the conference:
2011: Business
2012: Strategy
2013: Change
2014: Leadership & The Organization

The big draw-card for me this year was Todd Wilkens, Design Principal at IBM. He delivered a talk ‘Scaling Design Beyond Designers’ with a corresponding 1/2 day workshop on IBM Design Thinking approach.

As with any conference, some talks were better than others.
Here’s a summary of all the talks, including links to slides and videos.

Bill Scott | PayPal

Keynote: Bringing Change to Life

Bill spoke with gravitas and directness about what is required to influence change from inside-out with large organisations. Two themes were Persistence and Improvisation. The crux of the talk was a playbook of sorts, describing his battle-proven approach to bringing change. Ostensibly, it’s expressed a little plainly – as a ‘7 steps’ guide, but the stories that Bill delivered with it were brilliant.

His 7 steps include:

  • Believe something deeply
  • Understand the culture
  • Fix the pain points
  • Rally the troops
  • Prototype the change
  • Tell a story
  • Keep iterating

Livia Labate | Marriott International
Digital Governance: Getting Your Act Together & Keeping It That Way

Digital Governance didn’t sound like something interesting, until it is defined like this: ‘Governance is a way to distribute decision-making authority for strategy, policy and standards throughout an organisation’. What does that mean for ‘digital’? Well, it’s inevitably way broader than just digital, and that’s really what this talk is about. Making the complex clear, and figuring out how best to work across silos to make life better for customers and the people behind the scenes responsible for those experiences.

Leah Buley | Intuit
The Marriage of Corporate & UX Strategy: A Case Study

Gold. Leah explored the intersection of UX strategy and corporate strategy and most importantly, how to work together complimentarily to achieve great outcomes for business and customers. She talked about explicit strengths/weaknesses from each camp, and the mutual benefit of working together. For years, experience design has begged for a seat at ‘the big table’. Leah gives us a guide of how to approach the task once we get there.

Michael Kim | Habit Design by Kairos Labs
Designing Sustainable Behavior-Change with Habit Design

This was a nice adjacent (to design/product) talk. Referenced some pop psychology like operant conditioning, reward loops, and neuroscience and talked at a fairly high level about how these ideas can be applied to design.

Lesley Mottla | Zipcar
The “How” & “Why” of Building Customer Experience-Focused Teams & Organizations

A very eye-opening walk through on how customer experience happens at Zipcar. All the way from team structure and configuration, approaches to design, to how experience is measured and organisational maturity models for being customer focussed. A very dense and rich talk from an absolute powerhouse woman. This will be my go-to deck next time I need to articulate what an ‘experience strategy’ might look and feel like for a larger enterprise client.

Kerry Bodine | Author
Brand, Marketing, & Customer Experience

This was a terrific talk, mostly about the difference between promising great experiences and delivering great experiences. Promises are easy, delivering on the promise is not. As with any great talk, after framing the problem, Kerry walks through a variety of approaches and tools for making better of the situation. One tool in particular caught my attention. It’s a derivative of Dave Gray’s culture mapping technique called CX/brand mapping  but specifically explores the implicit and explicit brand promises and contrasts this with ‘brand reality’ and/or evidence of the promise in the true customer journey. Potent stuff, particularly if done in conjunction with experience mapping. Kerry is a formidable communicator. Keep eyes out for the video, there’s some great stories and narrative in her delivery that really help make it stick.

Todd Wilkens | IBM
Scaling Design Beyond Designers

There is so much to love about this talk, and the companion workshop was relevant and inspiring too. Todd’s mission is to bake in UX strategy into product management. At IBM. Who have 400,000 employees and 3,000 active product teams. Todd speaks convincingly about what design is, ways to do it well, and how to scale it to very-very-large organisations. Much of what he presented seems incredibly familiar, easy to think ‘we already do that’, but there are important nuances in the approach that I think can enable empowered teams to solve problems instead of merely build features.

Peter Merholz | Adaptive Path
Organisation models for design (slides coming…)

This talk overlapped a little with Todd Wilkens (IBM Design) on common organisational models for design teams. Peter contrasts the pros and cons of Internal Services Firm vs. Decentralised & Embedded teams and then introduces a hybrid model called Centralised Partnership Model which aims to deliver the best of both worlds. The main takeaway being about how to use this team structure with the double-diamond methodology (originally from British Design Council) to become proactive and ‘push good things into an organisation’ as opposed to being reactive where you merely respond to the immediate needs of an organisation.

Wendy Lea | Get Satisfaction
The Customer Experience Obsession

‘Customer experience is the last bastion of competitive advantage’.

Nice stats on overall profitability of leaders and laggards and some pretty compelling discussion on how to be leader, not a laggard.

Brandon Schauer | Adaptive Path
The MX Outlook: Becoming & Leading

A look to the recent past and future ahead for the discipline of experience design. Neatly summarised in this playbook for managing and leading experiences.

I can highly recommend the conference. Very well run, great speakers and content, terrific attendees too.

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