User Experience Design – “What’s Your Risk Worth Taking?”

This year I chose the Managing Experience to find interesting and inspiring ideas for my daily job as Head of UXD in deltatre.

I’m travelling alone, but, as the live broadcast is the latest trend, few minutes before #MX15 begins I decide to launch Periscope and give my colleagues a taste of what’s going on here at the Parc 55 in San Francisco.

The different time zone is not helping, but the idea works big time. Thanks Periscope.

Oh, write this name down…we’ll come back to it later.

Day 1

As in a wedding ceremony, the round tables help us socialize, and here we start. Spotlight on Maria Giudice, Facebook Product Design Director.

After 30 seconds of her speaking you know what she is saying is high-quality. First she fascinates the audience with the story of a new role rising in the UXD field, the DEO (Design Executive Officer) ( And then one of the leitmotifs of this #MX15 comes out right away: who are the risk takers?

Taking risks forces us to put aside the rational part of our brain, fuelling intuition. Risks train our mind, and this is a mandatory condition to create innovation.

Designers are not only digital artefact makers. We do more than crafting deliverables. As in Giudice’s words, “designers are champions of a connected society. To design is to embrace change”.

And to synthesise her philosophy, she leaves us a designer handbook in five points:

After Maria Giudice, more high-quality speakers come in succession on the stage. At the end of the day, I can make my list of the top three.

Interesting ideas to reflect on, and most of all good suggestions to put into practice once back in Turin.

Day 1 is over. A T-bone steak, a short walk north towards the Pier 41, and back to the hotel. Tomorrow is workshop day.

Day 2

I chose “The Management of Design” workshop.

As we step in, they ask us to draw an animal that represents us, stick it on our chest and then look for similar animals to combine in the same group.

Free-hand drawing is not exactly my job and I must say that choosing a panther is not choosing the easy way. I try twice and then go for a lettering version (P-A-N-T-H-E-R). That’s better.

We do exercises, we brainstorm, we write down on lots of post-its to discover in the end that all 10 people sitting at my table, including me, are playing countless roles in their UXD department.

And we discover also that the shades of UX designers are way more than those described by E.L. James. 🙂

The most interesting part of the workshop though is when they ask us to describe the role we would like to have in our UXD group.

It has to be something more than a job description, going straight to the heart of the matter. Doing this, I understand what I really want from my team at deltatre. I will totally do this exercise with my colleagues in Turin and see if we are on the same wavelength.

The workshop ends with a sentence that really blows my mind.

Nothing happens by chance. Never rest on your laurels.

After lunch, the last speakers get on the stage to put the cherry on top of this #MX15.

Russ Unger explains how important is it to have a Critique Team, providing constructive criticism in order to make everyone grow, getting better everyday.

And there is still time to read a slide from Gretchen Anderson that makes me recall me something I said in a meeting, back in in 2011. We were facing a problem that seemed impossible to solve and I said to the client: “There’s always a solution”. Good to see I’m not alone thinking this way.

When Adaptive Path CEO, Brandon Schauer gets on the stage, you can’t do anything else than be charmed by his ability to engage. Although it is late and the last two days have been quite intense, I’d stay here listening to him for hours.

In the end, we’re back onto risk. The answer is:

“What’s your risk worth taking?”

Good one. I’m wondering what Angy’s boyfriend thinks about it.

I met Angy yesterday during the conference. She works as UX Manager for one of the biggest companies here in the Silicon Valley. Getting out of the Parc 55 she told me that, months ago, her boyfriend had to choose between two career opportunities.

On one side there was Apple. On the other side a pre-start-up working on a video app. They didn’t even have a name. All Angy’s boyfriend knew was that his best friend worked there. “Come with us. It’s gonna be fun”.

But Angy talked him into taking the other way, the safe way.

“C’mon Mark you can’t turn down Apple only to work with your buddy.”

The start-up was just a pre-launch then.

It needed the time to find a name, be sold to Twitter for $100 million (a percentage of which has been given to employees), and be listed in the most downloaded apps on iTunes.

That app is Periscope. No need to tell.