Transcript: Ask the UXperts — Entrepreneurship & Innovation with Steve Baty

Transcript: Ask the UXperts — Entrepreneurship & Innovation with Steve Baty

Steve Baty Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Summary:

Today I had the pleasure of hosting one of the most qualified UXperts I’ve met in our chatroom, Steve ‘Doc’ Baty.

We spent an action packed hour chatting about Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Here’s the transcript of the session.

Today I had the pleasure of hosting one of the most qualified UXperts I’ve met in our chatroom, Steve ‘Doc’ Baty.

Steve is Principal at Meld Studios, former President of IxDA, co-organiser of UX Australia, founder of UX Book Club, member of the Good Design Council and NED of Elevate Australasia!

We spent an action packed hour chatting about Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Steve was incredibly generous with his advice, tips, case studies and recommendations – I came away feeling inspired to get out there and create new things.

If you didn’t make the session because you didn’t know about it, make sure you join our community to get updates of upcoming sessions. If you’re interesting in seeing just what we discussed, or you want to revisit your own questions, here is a full transcript of today’s chat.

 

HAWK
Right, I’ll ask Steve to kick off with a brief introduction
And then you can monopolise his time until others arrive
So Steve, over to you…
Steve B.
Hello folks. I’m one of three founding Principals of Meld Studios, a design studio based in Sydney, Australia…
… We aim to improve the everyday lives of people as they interact with the world around them, and we use the tools, mindset and attitude of design to accomplish that
We focus on people. Part of understanding people is to develop an empathy for their situation, which is heavily influenced by how they experience the thing you’re designing…
… so we have a strong emphasis on UX, along with a range of other factors
HAWK
Cool. I like the concentrating on people bit. I think we often forget what we design for…
So we have you here to specifically talk about entrepreneurship & innovation (henceforth E&I)
Steve B.
One other thing I’d mention: our work tends to cut across scale, from the interface, through applications, to end to end services and the ecosystem within which they (and the organisation) resides…
HAWK
so could you give us some insight into your interest/background in those areas?
Steve B.
… at those larger scales, UX becomes less meaningful.
HAWK
right
Steve B.
HAWK: Certainly :-)
Meld Studios is the fourth company I’ve launched/founded, and one of three I currently run.
HAWK
Do you have more hours in your day than I do?
;)
Steve B.
Some of you will have heard of what I think of as my second company – UX Australia. It’s a conference/events business, organising 3-4 design/UX conferences each year…
HAWK
Yeah, very cool.
Steve B.
I also sit on the board of a medical start-up, designing and implementing an integrating healthcare service
So, starting things is something I enjoy :-)
 
(I was also responsible in some part for launching the UX Bookclub initiative into the UX community a few years ago)
 
Innovation is a different beast…
HAWK
Ok, well rather than continuing to ask all the questions, I’ll throw it open to the floor. Who has something that they’d like to ask Steve? It can be about anything…
Steve B.
… I like understanding things, and I like making things better. And sometimes that means coming up with an entirely new concept.
Trey R.
If you had to identify a particular step that is most crucial for taking an idea and bringing it to fruition,,,,what would that be?
James W.
As a UX newbie, I would like to know your background, and how you got to the position you’re in now. Your design journey, if you will.
HAWK
Great question Trey
HAWK
Steve Baty: Start with Trey’s question and I’ll hold onto James’ for when you’re done
Trey R.
Another way I’m looking at it, when and where do ideas become products
Steve B.
Trey R: There are three or four points in the innovation process where it can completely fall apart, like a wave not quite cresting…
 
I’ll take those in turn…
i) When it comes to understanding people. Don’t just look at the surface: you need to dig. Get under the skin of what you’re seeing and look for the undercurrents; the drivers; the behavioural underpinnings…
 
This takes a lot more effort, which is why a lot of teams fail to do it. But it’s the first critical hurdle you need to overcome. Deadlines can be a killer here, as can simple fatigue…
 
ii) Taking that insight and framing it as a problem to be solved.
 
I gave a talk recently in Lisbon & UX Australia which looked at the critical role problem-framing plays in the team’s ability to come up with fresh thinking.
 
Frame the problem in incremental ways, and you’ll encourage incremental solutions; be bold in your problem-framing, and you’ll be much more likely to encourage bold solutions.
 
iii) Generating ideas, allowing them to ferment and mature, suspending judgement enough to not just shoot them down.
So many good (but crazy-sounding at first blush) ideas are shot down way too early.
HAWK
I think that’s something that takes a lot of practice (point iii)
Humans tend to say no before they say yes in my experience (myself included)
Trey R.
When you’ve identified the users and their core problem that you’re trying to solve, I seem to struggle on how to reach those users and let them know something new exists.
Steve B.
It can be hard when under time pressure (see a theme here?) to allow an idea to just sit and be examined, but you probably only have a limited opportunity to truly explore…
 
At the same time, there is often a tendency amongst the group to settle on an idea that feels achievable in the short term.
HAWK
Trey R: That’s where the power of community comes in!
Steve B.
iv) Bringing the idea to life in a way that others can support.
Trey R.
(And patience)
Steve B.
We need to do a great job at community the value of the concept to our customers as well as the organisation, or else it will wither on the shelf somewhere.
 
Each one of those steps is necessary. And they’re all difficult
HAWK
Great advice. Does that answer your question Trey?
Trey R.
I think it answers it in the way it points to an area to research and understand more. :)
Steve B.
Trey R: Communicating back out to potential customers can be really difficult. Marketing is full of people with that sole task, for their entire careers, and the world is still full of crappy marketing
HAWK
Too true. It is kinda astounding in these days of social media/community/internet communication
Steve B.
Engage with them directly wherever possible. Enlist friends and family early if need be. Participate in the community of interest/practice and get to know them.
HAWK
But I digress…
Steve B.
Listen before you speak!
It’s critical for people to feel that you’re there for them more than for yourself
HAWK
So James asked “As a UX newby,I would like to know your background, and how you got to the position you’re in now. Your design journey, if you will.”
tim
Thanks HAWK, I’m also curious about that journey; it’s such a new field there seems to be no set career path
HAWK
Cool :)
Steve B.
James W.: W: It was a very roundabout route. I started in applied mathematics & statistics in the early 90’s; went on to study archaeology for a bit; took jobs in software distribution and support; then helped found a multimedia/web agency startup in ’97 and moved to a more established agency in early ’99 after catching our MD siphoning money out of the company :-)
HAWK
Heh. Not what I was expecting
James W.
yikes
HAWK
We’re just talking about Steve’s route to UX innovation
Steve B.
I stayed with that company – Red Square – until around 2007 where I served as a designer, front-end Dev, technical architect, strategist, and ultimately Director of UX…
in 2008 I was working with Iain Barker on a project at the NSW Dept of Ed, and we found we worked together really well. Similar philosophy and approach to design; similar notions of quality etc
HAWK
So that’s obviously not a route that the average person would take. What advice do you have for someone new to UX today that is looking to innovate or kick off a new venture?
Steve B.
We started up a conversation which, along with Janna DeVylder, saw Meld Studios launch on 22 Dec, 2009 :-)
UX today is very different! There are courses you can take; many more books to read etc
tim
Could you reccommend a route into UX/ a way to transition sideways for someone with a print design background?
James W.
Just taking a quick look at your site, it seems like you guys are doing some super cool things
Steve B.
From scratch: read some books – A Project Guide to UX by Russ U & Carolyn C; a variety of the Rosenfeld Media books; Dan Saffer’s Microinteractions; Jon Kolko’s Thoughts on Interaction Design…
 
Take a course somewhere like General Assembly. They’re really building up their content and teaching quality
HAWK
We have a couple of books, one specifically for getting into UX
Steve B.
And a great community around them
caroline
I’m also newer to UX but am definitely excited and quite motivated to be working in the space.
HAWK
*cough and we have a community *cough  http://community.uxmastery.com/
tim
Great thanks, I’m looking into the GA course
Evandro I.
Steve, could you recommend some internet courses about UX?
Steve B.
Attend a conference if you can. Depending on where you are in the world: UX London, UX Lisbon, UX Australia, UX HK, UX Singapore, and ones kicking off in Malaysia and Indonesia too…
Also Interaction (run by IxDA), and IA Summit (supported by IA Institute)…
 
Finally, join the discussion at IxDA.org.
 
That should keep you busy at least through the summer :-)
HAWK
Haha
Trey R.
Nice plug HAWK. ;)
HAWK
;)
Trey R.
Winter for you folks north of the equator.
Steve B.
Evandro Inada: I am honestly not familiar enough to recommend any. You’ll find some great online resources at places like IxDA.org as well as past videos from conferences like Fluxible and UX Lisbon;
Evandro I.
Thanks!
Jessica
I have a qn on UX in Entrepreneurship for non UXers… The early startups I’ve talked to place cash flow as king, user experience second… do you have any tips on how to swap the focus, or at add more UX on a budget?
James W.
Udemy has some decent beginner stuff
Trey R.
Steve, do you have a mentor? And if so, how does he/she help you?
HAWK
James W.: They do. I’ve done a few of their courses and reviewed them here http://uxmastery.com/resources/ux-courses/
Steve B.
Jessica: Cash flow is the lifeblood of a company.
 
That said: if you are continually compromising the product/service in order to promote cash flow, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your product/service…
 
In other words, the two should not be incompatible
Jessica
True… swap was proably the wrong way to say it.
Steve B.
The challenge is often to show how an investment in an improved user experience can translate into improved revenues or decreased costs
James W.
Seriously, if a product works people should want to spend money on it. I think that’s how it works.
Jessica
Also a question of UX is very broad – are there any resources spcifically for Entrepreneurs? Or its to specific to each case?
Steve B.
And there are some great case studies out there… but my own favourite comes from launching an online airfare booking system in 2002…
 
The client insisted people should register before they could search for fares…
… and for three months they saw bookings of < $2,000/mth. We convinced them to change the order of those two events – search for fares first; register second. The following month sales hit $100,000 and climbed from there
Steve B.
Trey R: I have two mentors in addition to being surrounded by people I very much respect and can learn from. Those two mentors help me primarily in my role as Director, rather than designer
caroline
What is your definition of service design, and what brands, agencies, etc are doing it successfully?
Steve B.
We discuss issues of client relationships, cash flow, business management etc.
 
caroline: would you like to hear about a specific country?
Trey R.
Would you consider a mentor an integral part of the entrepreneurial process?
Steve B.
Trey R: Very much so
caroline
No specific country.
Steve B.
Trey R: This is one of the key benefits (aside from funding) of incubator programs.
Trey R.
Can you expand on incubator programs?
Steve B.
caroline: Very well. Service design is the application of design methods to the creation of new value propositions encompassing physical spaces, service ‘artefacts’, and digital environments. These may be borne of an existing concept, or be entirely new…
HAWK
Re mentors, anyone looking for one might find parts of this helpful http://uxmastery.com/how-to-get-started-in-ux-d…
And I recommend joining our community and spending some time in our Mentoring sectionhttp://community.uxmastery.com/forum/mentoring
Steve B.
Service Design is often misconstrued as customer service. It’s more than that. It looks at all layers of the organisation from service concept (public wifi) through to underlying infrastructure
Trey R.
Thanks hawk!
HAWK
Trey R: Pleasure
Steve B.
Service design lends itself to an holistic, and integrated way of thinking. As such, it tends to be practiced more successfully in Europe/UK and Australia; and less so in North America and Asia. It is beginning to take shape in South America, India & China…
 
In Europe, you would look to companies like Engine, Live|Work, Fjord as examplars. In Australia, the companies tend to be smaller in size and, from a specialist point of view, you’re really talking about us (Meld Studios) and Huddle. Others exist around the edges of that space, with a much heavier focus on digital/UX.
caroline
Awesome, thank you Steve B. Really appreciate your input and insight.
Ahhhh, funny you mention – I partner with one of those companies!
HAWK
Agreed. Valuable stuff thanks Steve.
Steve B.
In North America, companies such as frog, continuum, and Method would be the places to go
caroline
But here in the states, not abroad – yet :)
Trey R.
In South America?
Steve B.
Trey R: Currently, I don’t know of any strong service design/service innovation companies operating in South America. The most likely candidates would be one of the North American companies with a SA presence
Steve D.
any tips on finding a well established UX professional to be a mentor?
Trey R.
That’s an unfortunate answer. :)
Steve B.
@Steve D: Community events – local UX Bookclub, IxDA, or UXPA events
Evandro I.
In Brazil (South America), Agencia Click, that merger with Isobar
Steve D.
can’t really afford the conferences… :/
Steve B.
Talk to the people there; see if you connect with someone personally; ask them to help you out. You’ll be surprised at how willing most of them will be
HAWK
@Steve D: You could try the IAI program http://iainstitute.org/en/members/mentoring/men…
Steve D.
oooh excellent. thank you.
Trey R.
Thanks Evandro.
How would you define a good mentor?
caroline
If and when hiring someone in UX – a PM, design lead, visual designer, etc – would would be your key question(s) or conversation points to truly uncover one’s interest, passion and experience in the space?
Steve B.
Trey R: Someone you respect; who listens; who will challenge you; who has been through similar experiences; who has learned a few things in the process!
 
caroline: Ask them about a project they’re proud of. Ask them why. Do they talk about the value to the user, or about the technology/features? You really want the former
 
Listen for the sophistication of their response. Is it “Gee whiz, and we helped people too”, or can they articulate the why & how of it
 
And finally, don’t let a grasp of process fool you
Kathy A.
yes it can be very difficult to work with someone not focused on value for user and wants to pump out features
caroline
Again, thank you Steve B.
This may be stupid – but what exactly do you mean “don’t let a grasp of process fool you”?
Steve B.
caroline: someone’s ability to speak to the process of UX can be a mask for a lack of competency. Ask why questions to scratch that veneer and see if there is understanding
caroline
Makes total sense – thank you for expanding!
Evandro I.
Steve, what would be your recommendation for a CXO?
Steve B.
Evandro Inada: That will really depend on the scale of organisation. In a small company, you want a generalist who’s passionate about people and won’t get carried away by cool tech…
 
… in a larger organisation you want someone who can use analytics to ask questions; understands organisational drivers of profit (revenue & costs); can manage other people; can inform product/service strategies and roadmaps…
Evandro I.
Thanks a lot!
Steve B.
… and in a very large organisation, you want someone who can communicate a vision of customer-centricity and how that permeates the organisation
HAWK
5 mins to go my friends. Any last questions?
caroline
Not from me, thank you again.
Steve B.
It’s been a pleasure! :-)
Kathy A.
i think i’ll need to see the transcript before i have questions…. apologies for turning up late!
Steve D.
Thanks so much. Looking forward to the transcript as well.
Steve B.
Kathy Angelone: feel free to reach out directly with questions. Same with you Steve
Steve D.
oh here’s one when’s the next ask the UXperts chat happening? This was pretty neat.
Vincent
Steve, I have been practicing ux for many years and growing less and less interested in usability and more focused in business viability . How do you draw that line?
Steve B.
Vincent: I don’t really. I just focus more time on those higher-level business questions, but never forget how usability impacts the business
 
Vincent: that said, we tend not to take on projects with a low-level focus on usability any more :-)
HAWK
@Steve D: I run these pretty regularly
Keep an eye on our site, forum or twitter account for dates
Kathy A.
i think there may be some validity to testing to ensure that value is being delivered to users while maintaining business viability?
Steve B.
Kathy Angelone: Always.
caroline
Steve B, thank you again. Hope to connect sometime, enjoy a great day in Australia!
HAWK
Technically that’s a wrap people. Huge thanks to Steve for his time today.
Much appreciated.
Steve B.
caroline: thank you
Kathy A.
a really good book i’m reading (very slowly) at the mo is Digilogue …. will need to remember author
Steve B.
HAWK: my pleasure
HAWK
And thanks to the rest of you for joining us today
Sarah Hawk
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Sarah Hawk
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