Had a most interesting couple of days at Adaptive Path’s most recent event: MX. First pleasant surprise was the InterContiental in San Francisco, possibly the best big hotel I’ve stayed at in some time. It’s fancy, it’s new, it’s got a great weight room and pool, the staff rocks, and it’s where MX was. The hotel’s website is meh, but next time I’m near the Moscone center for something, I’d stay here again. Doubt I’ll get a killer room with a view on the 31st floor like I did this time, but you never know.

I’m convinced people get more value the smaller the conference is. It’s easier to meet people, single track guarantees you can make small talk with anyone, the vibe is low key and informal, and the speakers are easy to find and chat with. MX had about 100 to 120 people I’d guess which, as I say, means more value for people not less. Its a perk of recessions: for people who can afford to go, you get a better value.

Highlights:

  • Bruce Temskin on Customer Experience during a recession. He works at Forrester, but also runs the experience matters blog which as best I can tell is an interesting crossover of Marketing & Design thinking, from an analysts perspective, about how to make and measure good experiences. Check out this post on how Lego thinks about user experience.
  • How Tivo Does it: an interview with the VP of Design, Margret Schmidt. My big takeaway was that the founders were design thinkers from day one. Like Google, the founders had a set of cultural values, and that explains much of the results. Margret was sharp. During the break I asked her how a VP of design should evaluate their own performance and she had good answers: customer/partner response and how happy her team is. Rock on.
  • Sara Beckman from the University of California gave perhaps my favorite talk: Communicating the value of design. She asked the audience how many had seen a P&L and maybe 15% of the room raised their hands. If ever you wonder why designers feel unempowered, this is why. She pointed out some great data available on design ROI. It’s easy stuff to learn, but kind of boring and not sexy, and rarely thought of as knowledge designers should have. But I bet the 15% that knows their way around P&Ls have more power and influence in their orgs. Someone needs to do a talk called “Finance for Designers” or “Accounting for Creatives”. They’d win more arguments by just doing a couple of new things.

I spoke about Why designers fail, but they also let me run a workshop called “Guerilla, No-Holds Barred, Possibly Illegal in 15
States, Tactics for UX in Organizations” which went well, as no one got arrested. I’ll write up my notes from this later.

Kudos to Brandon Schauer, Henning Fischer and Pam Daghlian for planning and running a first rate event.

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