UX Camp 2019

On Saturday June 29, 2019, I found myself again at UX Camp. UX Camp, which I also attended and wrote about 2 years ago, is an “unconference” which means that there is not set schedule of topics or speakers. Instead, the participants come up with the schedule by proposing talks they want to talk about. (Then the organizers choose the time and which room.) This year’s UX Camp was again held at General Assembly.

As this was my second time going, I tried to be a little more social and chit-chat with other participants. Unfortunately, Jared Spool and Dave Malouf weren’t in attendance. Jared Spool is a great speaker — here’s a video I watched recently. However, I decided to not only get over my fears of small talk, but also get over my fear of presenting my ideas in public. So I gave a presentation, based on one of my favorite prior blog posts of this year, ” NYPL Resumes”!

Only a few people attended, but presenting was a very satisfying experience.

Most of the people who signed up to lead sessions did not have slides. I did because I based them on my blog post, so it was relatively easy to put the deck together because my thoughts were already written and organized.

 

Overview

Other than my own presentation, here are a few sessions I attended:

Interviewing

One of the participants wanted to discuss interviewing, because she found herself in a new situation and was curious about other people’s experiences. I used the opportunity to make a comment on my observations about what UX hiring managers are looking for, especially regarding portfolios, according to the articles I’ve researched online.

Mentorship

This was kind of a workshop about mentorship. We spent a bit of time discussing our experiences with mentorship. After getting through everyone, the speaker led us through an exercise where we discussed what a mentor is and is not.

First, a mentor is not:

  • a parent
  • going to punish you
  • responsible for your career
  • necessarily your boss, but could be

A mentor is:

  • Someone who has achieved what you want to achieve. Someone said, “They only need to be one step ahead of you.”
  • Has current knowledge about the job, current events, etc
  • A champion for your success

We then broke out in small groups to talk about: How to create boundaries, Framing your conversation (with your mentor); and Getting from having no mentor to having a mentor. Afterwards, we shared our discussions.
Tips on Working with a Mentor

  • Respect the time of your mentor. Pretend your mentor has 100 mentees
  • Be responsive and be clear about what you want.
  • Fully implement their advice and then follow up with them with the results
  • Boosters; some people really like to help others
  • Be willing to provide value to the mentor

A book mentioned was the 2-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton.

Visual Storytelling

Another talk I went to was by an architect who was a very talented illustrator and hoping to break into product design. His talk was on Visual Storytelling.

He showed us some examples of his work and we discussed the story he was trying to tell with his images. He also discussed his process a little.

Some tips I got from him about visual storytelling:
– Pick key moments to visualize
– Show only 1 (one) idea per image
– Include enough relevant information, but don’t go overboard in detail

I wanted to ask him questions about design and improving in visual design, but when I tried to ask my questions, I found that my anxieties about improving in design only aided in making my words come out jumbled. He tried to answer anyway and suggested that just knowing what’s good design and what’s not good is OK.

I like his tips — very clear and straightforward.

Cultural Relevancy and Experience Design

The very last talk I went to was about Cultural Relevancy and Experience Design. It was a very interesting topic. The speaker shared with us situations in which technology (sensors, photography) failed her in key moments due to the technology not being tested on a diverse audience. It’s true that some sensors are poorly calibrated to pick up darker skin tones. For instance, “self-driving vehicles may have a harder time detecting people with dark skin”. It’s probably not because the technology cannot do it, but because it’s not being testing for a variety of skin tones. https://www.businessinsider.com/self-driving-cars-worse-at-detecting-dark-skin-study-says-2019-3

I also got some recommendations for books:
– Design in The Era of the Algorithm
– Politics of Design
– Mismatched

Conclusion

Although I missed seeing some well-known names at the conference, I still got something out of it — namely public speaking experience.

Event: Kanban + XP (with pizza!)

On Jan 10, 2019, I attended an with the NYC Lean/Kanban meetup, which was partnered with another meetup, to discuss Kanban and extreme programming. It was a night of discussing user story optimizations and testing.

Last year, I didn’t make any posts really even though I was quite busy. This year, I don’t want to make that mistake, so I will post updates of what I’ve been up to as I go.

On Jan 10, 2019, I went to the NYC Lean/Kanban Meetup for a talk on “Kanban + XP” (with pizza). We learned about Extreme Programming, or XP, which is now called pair programming. View photos below (but no photos of pizza).

The speaker discussed how to write better user stories, and specifically talked about “story splitting” or where to split a single story into two. The speaker explained that sometimes stories are too complicated and it’s not clear what is being built, why, when to know when it’s done or how to test that it’s correct. Splitting a story into smaller pieces helps keeps requirements manageable. He said to watch for the “and”; this is often a good place to split.

He also discussed how well-written user stories can significantly aid testing, and he gave some examples of tools that basically turn a user story into test criteria.

I also learned that Lean Kit is a good tool for visualizing Kanban, although I’ve probably learned this in other events.

 

As always, it was informative and I look forward to the next event.

Learning About Lean, Kanban, Six Sigma, and Kaizen

A few months ago, a friend of mine recently asked on LinkedIn if anyone had any information about Six Sigma certification. It caught my eye, not only because a friend asked, but also because I’d recently come across a conversation on Reddit about Six Sigma, which got me thinking about the concept of kaizen, which is Japanese for “continuous improvement”. Following this path further, I learned more about the connections between kaizen, Six Sigma, and Lean. Six Sigma appears to be one way to implement Lean, which appears to be the way to implement/interpret kaizen*.

NYC Lean/Kanban Meetup, June 2017

Cut to the NYC Lean/Kanban Meetup, which I attended in June to learn more. Unfortunately, it was the last of the season, until September, but they have an ongoing weekly morning get-together on Fridays at 8:30 AM.

https://www.meetup.com/nyc-kanban/

Event Recap

The event was meant to recap a recent series of meetups on Lean as well as a planning session for the next year/season. The talk was interesting, but it’s clear that I’m an n00b. I picked up a few names, book titles, and resources, listed below.

People

Book

During the speaker’s recap, he mentioned a book title, This Is Lean. The book can be found at www.thisislean.com.

A video on ThisIsLean.com explains more about the book:

Radio

The speaker also mentioned a This American Life episode on NUMMI, a GM + Toyota manufacturing partnership. Interestingly, I also found an article disputing the TAL episode, although I think that might be more due to a pro-union POV than actual criticism of the article.

Storymapping

After the speaker’s presentation, we got together to talk about a few ideas for the next year. The table I joined was on story mapping, which someone had suggested as a topic. I joined this table because I wanted to learn more about story mapping. And a few other people at the table didn’t seem to know exactly how the person who suggested it could use it in the example she provided. But, eventually, we eliminated other choices and figured out how it could work. So, it will be a topic next “year”, after the summer break, and I hope to learn more. Although it’s meant to be used in Agile, I guess you could use it even if you don’t work in Agile.

Resources:

Story Mapping Tools: 

  • Cardboardit.com – https://cardboardit.com/
  • Feature map – https://www.featuremap.co/en

Certification

Also, in chatting with someone there, I learned that there is Scrum Product Owner certification that you can get in 2 days. I found a session in Saint Paul, MN, and that one is $1,095 per person at regular price. There was an option to filter for discount only, but I’m guessing it will still be several hundred dollars.

Implementing Kaizen Without Knowing It

As a side note, I used to own a book called, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. (There’s also a summary of the book’s contents on YouTube, by someone unrelated to the book and the author.) But after getting through the audiobook of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I sold it to The Strand.

Incidentally, “tidying” (and cleaning) is another cultural efficiency practice from Japan, which I first learned about on Japanology Plus. It might not be as respected in business circles as kaizen or Lean, but it appears to be very much a part of Japanese culture.

Even though I gave up the kaizen book, I have been using the concept of small changes and small steps. One instance of this is trying to learn new languages with the Duolingo iPhone app, by focusing on just getting through at least one lesson a day. I hope to post my progress on LinkedIn, once I get to 25% in any language.

Also, in chatting with someone there, I learned that there is Scrum Product Owner certification that you can get in 2 days. I found a session in Saint Paul, MN, and that one is $1,095 per person at regular price. There was an option to filter for discount only, but I’m guessing it will still be several hundred dollars.

Implementing Kaizen Without Knowing It

As a side note, I used to own a book called, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. (There’s also a summary of the book’s contents on YouTube, by someone unrelated to the book and the author.) But after getting through the audiobook of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I sold it to The Strand.

Incidentally, “tidying” (and cleaning) is another cultural efficiency practice from Japan, which I first learned about on Japanology Plus. It might not be as respected in business circles as kaizen or Lean, but it appears to be very much a part of Japanese culture.

Even though I gave up the kaizen book, I have been using the concept of small changes and small steps. One instance of this is trying to learn new languages with the Duolingo iPhone app, by focusing on just getting through at least one lesson a day. I hope to post my progress on LinkedIn, once I get to 25% in any language.

Event: UX Camp 2017, New York City

On June 24th, I attended a one-day “unconference”, called UX Camp. I heard about this through Meetup/email. I’m not sure what I expected, but I did hope for more hands-on workshops.

Sessions Attended:

Dance as cultural exchange

Using Dance for Cultural Exchange: This was presented by Ana Milena Aguilar-Hauke. I thought it was really smart and innovative, but only 2 people showed up to learn about this which is a shame. We could use more cross-cultural exchange these days. Her idea came from her experience living in Germany and the United States from the perspective of someone of Colombian descent. Her idea was to use salsa, which is a fun, easy to learn dance, to might help people interact with each other.

You can read more about this project on her website.

Kanban discussion list

Independent UX (More of a pow-wow/thought exchange): Helpful, especially for people who are managing their own work as an independent or seeking to. We used voting and Kanban boards, which I hadn’t heard of before, to go through ideas. I got that recruiters really take away your ability to earn more money because they’re skimming off the top. And, I learned that other UX professionals are experiencing the same portfolio headaches that I am.

I’ve since become interested in learning more about Lean and Kanban, which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post.

Some of the work we were doing for the design sprint workshop.

Tips on Design Sprints: I kind of wish I’d skipped this because, apparently, a really great talk that confirmed many of my job hunting suspicions was going on that I missed and probably would have enjoyed. But on the other hand, it was a hands-on activity like I wanted and it gave me new ideas to think about.

Agile to Tri-Track: This was presented by Dave Malouf. I wanted to learn more about Agile. I figured “tri-track” was an improvement…? I am still not quite sure what this was about.

Systems Thinking: I went because I wanted to learn about systems thinking. It sounded like an interesting discussion. It wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but maybe he will improve it later.

Portfolio Discussion: This was helpful and vindicated some of the concepts I’ve been thinking and writing about when it comes to what UX managers look for (or don’t look for) when reviewing portfolios. My strategy now is to include information about an unexpected challenge I experienced and what I learned on the job.

 


All Photos