Heading back to UX

I’m back to work after a couple weeks of vacation. And with the new year comes some changes.

In December I had the fortunate experience of having a number of great career opportunities put in front of me. In the end I decided to make a move back to UX. Starting January 21, 2014, I’ll be joining Yellow Pencil as Director, User Experience and Design. I’ve known the some of the team at Yellow Pencil for some time, and am super excited to help lead and grow their Vancouver office and user experience practice, and work with this talented group of people. I’m also expecting to be a root cause of a dramatic increase in their skittles output given my love of candy 🙂

Over my almost 4 years at Central 1 I’ve enjoyed a rewarding career filled with opportunities to work with diverse teams and clients on a number of great initiatives. It’s been a great product to come back and oversee and I’m proud of the contributions to this direct banking offering that powers over 300+ financial institutions in Canada. I’ve also had a chance to grow my team from 3 to 8 people, all the while trying hard to grow them in their careers as well. I truly have a great team that will be missed.

New Year’s Resolutions – 2014

Here’s my 2014 resolutions:

A guideline: smile more

A smile makes a better introduction and keeps you positive. Can’t go wrong with this.

A lifestyle change: eat more vegetarian and in moderation

I love food, but food does not love me at times. With a carnivore wife and son, finding a balance can be hard, but I always feel better when I eat less and slanted heavily towards veg.

An achievable milestone: 2-hour half marathon, get back playing with a band

My son called me out on this while we were on holidays in Europe telling me I should “get back at it”. Friends too have been pushing, especially my good friend who saw me play last May in Portland at a bar.

A look back at 2013

Coming into 2013 I made three resolutions. Here’s how I progressed with each of them:

A guideline: listen more, talk less

I felt I made some good progress here. Feedback from others was that I seemed more patient and that I was giving them the room they needed. That said, this might come back as more of a permanent guideline, than a one off experiment for the a year.

A lifestyle change: more running

I did ok here, but no where near what I hoped. Overall my RunKeeper app notes a total distance of 775.1km and a total time of 74 hours, 6 minutes in my shoes.

RunKeeper for 2013

My running dropped off dramatically in the later part of 2013 due to work commitments and my wife’s busy work travel schedule. That of course led me to look for new work at Yellow Pencil where work/life balance could be better.

I’ll have to improve here in 2014 as not running sucked.

An achievable milestone: run a half marathon or two

I did the BMO half in May with a time of 2:10, and the Fall Classic out at UBC in November with a time of 2:18. BMO I was on a path to 2:00 but a lack of water in the last 4km killed me. UBC was fine, but the lack of training made for a much different race than May’s race.

Next year, hoping for more miles and maybe a 2:00 half.

In order to create a truly innovative product

Three things:

  • Study the tasks people use a product for
  • Turn those tasks into a series of steps the person follows to get the task done
  • Finally, start eliminating steps

That’s it. Innovative products eliminate the friction of doing a task.

Source: — Something Really New: Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products, by Denis J. Hauptly

You can’t save your way to innovation

Great post from Allan Cooper

“…if there is something you can do to enhance the creative abilities of your people, it doesn’t really matter how much it costs, or how long it takes. What does matter is if it results in a successful invention, or a compelling design.”

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cooper-journal/~3/PIw69CLeS1E/you_cant_save_your_way_to_inno.html

On product management

Great quote from Satya Patel (formerly of Twitter):

“Product management isn’t a role or a function, it’s a set of skills. Those skills help remove obstacles and grease the wheels so that the functional experts can do their jobs best. Product management also balances the needs of users, the business and the team and makes the difficult tradeoffs needed to keep pressing ahead. In that way, Product Managers are very similar to CEOs. Very few would argue that a company doesn’t need a CEO. Product managers are simply CEOs of their products. No organization should be without someone who has ‘product management skills’ and works to make everyone else’s lives easier.”

Never get wrapped up in “I can’t”

Love this quote (great article too)

One thing I’ve learned over and over is to never get wrapped up in “I can’t“. Instead, I force myself to ask, “How can I accomplish this?” Even if it takes me days or weeks, living and sleeping and working and reading and eating with that question in mind, good solutions eventually come to me. — Nate Kontny

Source: How Draft grew paying customers by 200%

What every Apple store employee knows

APPLE is an acronym ingrained into every Apple store employee before they ever even step on the retail floor. APPLE:

  • Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome
  • Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

Source: Apple: My Key to Success