Balanced Craft at TalkUX

Ladies That UX invited me to be the closing speaker at TalkUX 2016. As I transition from UX practitioner to entrepreneur, I am glad to share back what I’m learning with my communities. Hopefully I’ll inspire other UX designers to take the plunge!

In this short video, I explain why I’m excited about what we’re doing at Brooklyn Copper Cookware, and why I think TalkUX is such an important event.

You’ll have to wait a whole year for the next TalkUX in Taipei, Taiwan. Until then, you can sample the talks from this year’s conference, (or re-live the good times if you were there). Click here to see videos of the presentations from TalkUX 2016.

Thanks to the kind folks at Blueprint for the interview and event videos!

LeanUX14 Presentations and Speakers

I attended Lean UX 2014 in New Jersey April 10-12, 2014. Below, please find the schedule with with links to the videos, slides, materials and information about the speakers. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please check back later. I am adding links as I can find them and will continue to update this post. If you have found something I don’t have yet, please feel free to add missing info in the comments – thanks!

UPDATE April 28, 2014: Will has started to post the videos, I’m adding links here as they are added to the LeanUX site.


Conference Opening – Will Evans
Keynote: We Are What We Repeatedly Do: Idealized Design & Beginner’s MindJabe BloomSlideshare
Tilting at Windmills: Innovation in Large Organizations  | SlidesAlistair Croll
6 Ways Results-Driven Learning Can Transform Work Culture  – Carmen Scheidel
LeanUX Wins: Design Thinking in Large EnterprisesSlidesAriadna Font Llitjos
Keynote: Lean Change: It’s Organizational and Personal – John Shook Lean Global Network
Lean UX: Agility Through Cross-Functional Collaboration | SlidesJeff Gothelf
Philosophy of Lean: A Phenomenological Understanding of Product Innovation | SlidesThomas Wendt
Optimizing Organizational Frameworks for Applied Design | SlidesLynn Teo
Keynote: Roadmap to the Lean Enterprise | SlidesTrevor Owens
Is Bad Research Better Than No Research: Doing LeanUX Right | SlidesDr. Deidre Kolarick
The Lean Agency | SlidesMona Patel
Eating Our Own Dog-food: A Story of Customer-Led Product Innovation – Jodie Moule | Slideshare
The Values Gap – Jen Guarino, Shinola
Safe-Fail, NOT Fail-Safe – Alicia Juarrero
Branding Moments | SlidesBill Beard
So You Want To Get Lean: Integrating Lean Startup | Slides Melissa Perri
The Balanced Team Movement | SlidesLane Halley
Keynote: It’s the Process, Jim, But Not As We Know ItDave Snowden


Workshop Descriptions .pdf

Morning Workshops

Effective Customer InterviewingAdrian Howard
Show Me What You’re Thinking – Ray DeLaPena | Slideshare
Facilitating Meetings That Don’t Suck – Virginia Cagwin | Slideshare & Jacklyn Burgan | Slideshare
How To Do Lean Research Right – Dr. Deidre Kolarick
Being a Successful User-Centred Product ManagerAndrew Mayfield
Validate Before Code – Steven Cohn
Managing to Learn Using A3Joshua Howell & John Shook
Communicating the Business Value and Getting Buy-in for UX Research – Christine Perfetti & Ezra Gildesgame

Afternoon Workshops

Deeper Understanding: Stories, Observations, Insights – Dan Szuc | Slideshare
Recruit Participants for Customer ResearchTomer Sharon | Speakerdeck
Design Research Methods – Thomas Wendt
Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Business FasterAlistair Croll
Lean Fundamentals: Value Stream Mapping for N00bs – Adam Yuret & Jabe Bloom
Lean Branding: Developing Powerful Brands in Lean Environments – Bill Beard
Applying Service Design to Your Agencies’ Delivery – Markus Andrezak / Christian Becker
Designing to Learn: Creating Effective MVP ExperimentsMelissa Perri

Friday General Sessions

Design Resonance: Making Sense of Cynefin and User Experience – Michael Cheveldave | blog post
UX + BA Working Together in Harmony – Jacklyn Burgan with Aaron Majcher
Towards a Theory and Method of Test Driven Design – Jonathan Berger | blog
WWE Ethnography: Let’s Get Ready to RumbleTomer Sharon | Speakerdeck
From Dinner to Dining: The Evolving Role of the DesignerZaana Howard
Creation & Production Combined: The Power of Connected WorldsMarkus Andrezak


Morning Workshops

Applying the Cynefin Framework for Improving Speed, Agility, and Innovation – Michael Cheveldave
Inclusive Design & Lean UX – Kel Smith, Elle Waters & Sophie Hwang
Designing an MVP that Works for Your Users – Ariadna Font Llitjos
Story-mapping the User Experience – Donna Lichaw
Design Thinking for Designing and Delivering Services – Zaana Howard
How to Draw Quick, Useful UI SketchesLane Halley
Mapping the Customer Journey – Jodie Moule & Stephen Moule
Overcoming Analysis Paralysis – A Case Study in Ethnographic Methods – Lynn Teo

Afternoon Workshops

Decision-Focussing – How to clarify Decisions and Get Information required for Decision-Making – Kim Ballestrin handout 1 | handout 2
Capturing Product Vision with the Idea Stack – Eli Bozeman
Making Sense of Messy Problems: Systems Thinking for Complex Business Models Johanna Kollmann
Mapping Your Minimum Viable ExperienceCourtney Hemphill
Introduction to Design Studio Methodology – Oonie Chase & Will Evans
Visual Problem Solving & Facilitation – Dean Meyers
Enhancing Proto-Personas With CharacterizationsChelsey Delaney & Taren Sterry

Closing Sessions

Restarting the Enterprise (Why Innovation Teams Suck)Adrian Howard
Conditions for Success: People, Skills, Spaces for Healthier Design – Dan Szuc | Slideshare
Management, Alignment, and Collaboration Done Differently – Arne Rook & Fridtjof Detzner | Jimdo
Designing For Services and Long-Term Innovation – Shelley Evenson, Fjord

Workshop: How to Draw Quick, Useful, UI Sketches

OPODZ, Los Angeles, September 18, 2013

Quick, Useful, UI Sketches

In this fun, hands-on workshop, I’ll lead you through a series of exercises which help you learn to draw good-looking, quick, useful, user interface (UI) sketches.

This class will cover:

  • Types of sketches
  • Why sketch?
  • Sketching materials
  • Grids, containers and functional groupings
  • Developing your personal UI shorthand

This workshop is appropriate for designers, product managers, Web developers, software engineers or anyone else who needs to think about or communicate concepts for digital products. No prior artistic or drawing experience necessary. If you can draw a circle, a square and a triangle, you’ve already got the basics covered!

Learning how to quickly sketch screen layouts and UI elements helps you think through design problems, communicate ideas to other people, collaborate, and reduce the need for pixel-perfect deliverables. Join me for this two-hour workshop and pick up some new skills you can use right away in your own projects.

Workshop: Lean UX for Digital Designers

Hands-on Lean UX Workshop for Digital Designers

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve joined Jaime Levy or JLR Interactive to present a 2-hour, hands-on workshop geared toward digital designers. Join us to learn Lean UX techniques that can be used immediately with your clients and teams.

Practice pragmatic Lean UX techniques

The following topics will be covered along with hands on exercises:

  • What is Lean UX?
  • Defining the Product & Customer
  • Exploring Key User Experiences
  • Validating the Customer and Idea with Qualitative Research

Learn with the experts

Lane Halley is a product designer at Carbon Five, where she uses Lean UX design and Agile construction methods to create Web and mobile products. Lane’s a popular teacher and speaker on the subjects of user experience (UX), Lean Startup, Agile and product design. Recent speaking engagements include The Los Angeles UX Meetup, The Lean Startup Conference, QconSF and Agile UX NYC.

Jaime Levy has been a pioneer for over 20 years in the creation of innovative browsing and non-linear storytelling experiences for digital products and services distributed on disk media, mobile devices, the Web and iTV. These days she runs a User Experience Strategy and Design consultancy in Los Angeles called JLR Interactive that caters to startups and enterprises who are open to practicing “lean” principles for transforming their business concepts into sustainable and scalable online solutions. Throughout her career, Jaime has been a part-time college professor, for 7 years at NYU ITP and is currently teaching UX Design in the Fall/Spring quarters and UX Strategy in the Winter quarter at UCLA Extension.

Why You Should Attend LSM

I first attended Lean Startup Machine in April 2011 as a participant. I quickly became an advisor and mentor because I believe the biggest challenge in our industry isn’t making software products work, it’s making products people want. Lean Startup is an important trend and User Experience (UX) professionals have a lot to offer the movement. We have a large toolkit of methods to help figure out what people want and craft those ideas into compelling products. Our challenge is adapting the way we work to be more quick, visual, collaborative and continuous to blend with modern entrepreneurial practices.

LSM Photos

Unlike other hackathons which focus on technology and what you’re able to build in a short time, winners at Lean Startup Machine are judged solely on the amount of validation achieved through applying the Lean Startup process. This means you don’t have to write a line of code to participate.

If you have experience with user research, usability testing, design strategy, product design, graphic design or any other design or UX role in a freelance, agency or in-house setting, we welcome your participation. As a matter of fact, designers are often the most sought-after team members on Friday night when the teams form up.

Another benefit of the weekend is that you’ll work as part of a diverse team of people with different backgrounds and skills. In addition to the education and mentoring in Lean Startup Customer Validation that are part of the program, you’ll also learn ways to work more quickly and collaborate effectively in teams by focusing on evidence rather than opinion.

For more information, please check out the Lean Startup Machine FAQ

Agile game development event Oct 26

Just heard about an interesting event from my friend Clinton Keith (author of “Agile Game Development with SCRUM.”) This sounds like a great opportunity to bring together product managers, developers and designers to discuss how we can encourage creative collaboration.

“On Wednesday, October 26th, the IGDA will be hosting the first agile game development gathering at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, LAX, the day before the start of the IGDA Leadership Forum.  The gathering will bring together game developers who have been applying agile and lean practices (including Scrum, Kanban and XP) to share their successes and failures of applying agile to their projects and advance the art of agile game development.  Rather than a series of presentations, the gathering will use Open Space Technology to support a self-organizing agenda.”

Registration costs $149 here.  For more information, please contact Clinton Keith.






Think, Make, Check: the Lean User Experience Intensive

Group photoJosh Seiden and I taught a sold-out session of the Lean User Experience Intensive (LUXi) July 9-10, 2011 at Pivotal Labs NYC. Here’s some information for those of you who didn’t get a chance to join us. We hope to see you at a future event!

Event summary

For a participant’s perspective, please see Nelly Yusupova’s post on the Webgrrls blog.

Eventbrite announcement

You know that great design is critical to the success of your business. It differentiates your product, defines the experience, and creates passionate users and loyal customers. Yet, many teams today struggle with design. Designers are hard to hire, working with an agency is expensive and doesn’t transfer knowledge to the team. If you do have designers and developers working together, It’s challenging to bring UX methods into an agile process without creating a bottleneck and tensions in the team.

Lean UX is a way to solve these problems. It’s a deeply practical and collaborative way of working. Lean UX uses rapid iterative cycles to create and improve products, simplify decision-making, and ensure you are building things that people want.

The Intensive is a two-day workshop for startups who want to improve the user experience of their product or individuals who want to work more effectively by using lean user experience methods. Over the weekend, you’ll be introduced to key principles and methods, and you’ll learn by doing. You’ll work collaboratively with your team-mates and experienced coaches to gain skills you can put to work immediately after the workshop.

Materials on SlideShare

Related links

Our LSM Sketchboard

I had a great time at Lean Startup Machine last weekend and learned a lot. I’d like to give a big shout-out to my collaborators, Gordon Agress, Joshua Haas, Miraya Yao, Ray Schmitz and Sebastian Park who were all enthusiastic, brilliant and cool under pressure. I sincerely appreciate the time and effort that the organizers and mentors contributed to making the event so great. It was amazing to spend the weekend with so many thought leaders in the Lean Startup space.

Rather than one long blog post about the whole event, I’ll start by writing about something our group found really helpful and several people asked me about, our sketchboard (that big brown piece of paper with all the stuff stuck on it).

Picture of team at table, with sketchboard on wall
Our team workspace

The challenge

Lean Startup Machine weekend is intense and not for the faint of heart. In just 48 hours, you form a team, decide on an idea to pursue, and create a product using Lean Startup principles and activities. We needed to engage in customer discovery activities in an asynchronous, and yet coordinated way. How would we keep track of what we were doing and understand patterns as they emerged, without a lot of time for synthesis or reflection? Based on some good experiences I’ve had using sketchboards as part of the LUXr program, I decided to build a sketchboard to help us track our evolving understanding of the problem, the users and their needs.

What was on our sketchboard?

Our sketchboard evolved over the weekend.  We added new information and put revised information on top of older versions, but the structure I established at the beginning held up pretty well. I tried to set it up so it supported telling a story about the problem we were solving. The project name and objectives at the top, problem, ecology and competitive information on the left, user research, segmentation and personas on the right.

Note: you can click on the image to see a larger version of the sketchboard


Sketchboard with annotations


A – Our project name “DomainMatcher”

B – Our hypothesis, Customer-Problem-Solution statement

C – Competitors in the space

D – Sketch of the ecosystem, with subject matter experts (SMEs) outside buyers and sellers

E/F – This section started out as just two groups domain “sellers” (E)  and domain “buyers” (F) but quickly evolved to visually represent our segmentation theory. Sellers were arranged by low # domains to high # domains held and buyers were arranged into buckets (founders, advertisers, blogger/vanity and flippers). The blue tape indicates we engaged with that person. The provisional personas (Sam the seller and Brenda the buyer) were added once we determined our early adopter targets and drew on elements we heard in our conversations with buyers and sellers.

G – Paper prototype of our buyer Minimum Viable Product v.1

H – A reminder of our goals for the weekend, “Question assumptions” “Iterate” and “Get out of the building.”

How it helped us

I expected that this would help our team keep track of the work to be done and help us create a shared understanding of emerging patterns. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly people jumped in, contributed their own elements to the board and used it as a focal point for conversation. I believe a healthy sketchboard is owned by the entire team, and isn’t the work of a single person.

Mariya uses the sketchboard to engage with Hiten
Mariya and Ray work with Hiten

An unexpected side-benefit was how it made it easier for us to engage with other people. Several mentors and LSM participants came by, looked at the board and said “OK, I get it, here’s something I can do to help.” It was great to have a visual artifact we could use to quickly orient other people to our project and where we stood, pretty much in real time.


More about sketchboards

If you want to see another example of a sketchboard used in a slightly different way (with a nifty video), check out this post from the Adaptive Path blog “Sketchboards: Discover Better + Faster UX Solutions.”

More about Lean Startup Machine

Lean Startup Machine is a weekend long boot-camp where entrepreneurs learn Lean Startup principles through real-world problem solving and coaching from mentors that get it. In 48 hrs, you’ll pitch an idea, form a team and attempt to build something customers actually want. The prize? Cash, mentorship and glory. This is a single weekend that will change how you think about building startups forever.


Getting ready for LSM

I’m attending Lean Startup Machine this weekend. Participants were selected via application. At the event we’ll pitch ideas and form small teams of people with business, tech and design skills. (Hooray for cross-functional and collaborative teams!) We’ll learn Lean Startup methods by doing customer discovery and making things together. The program runs Friday night through Sunday eve and there are prizes at the end for the best projects.

I want to get the most out of the experience so I am preparing for it. One aspect is establishing what I personally want to get out of the event. Here’s my objective.

I’m agnostic about the platform and idea I work on this weekend. What matters to me is:
– The team has a good mix of skills
– The team plays well together
– The idea we’re working with is relevant to people who are easily accessable this weekend

LSM participants have many different skill sets and personal objectives. I can’t assume they know me, or anything about what I do. Because of my own objectives, It matters to me that I attract compatible working partners. I created this brief bio and shared it with the group list before the event. It was hard to write because a) in this context, I’m a learner not an expert and b) I do have something to offer and don’t want to under-sell myself. This is what I shared with the group.

Here’s why you would be interested in working with me:
– I am a UXer with big experience and a small ego
– I am great at finding people to talk to and listening to them
– I make quick, lightweight concept sketches (pen/paper)
– I help teams quickly generate ideas and decide on a course of action

My other form of prep is research. I’m reading books and blogs and watching videos. I am trying to figure out “what is lean startup?” “how does it work? “who are the thought leaders?” “where are the examples of people’s experiences with it?”


  • The Lean Startup movement is young, decentralized and experiential/evolving.
  • Eric Ries identifies it as a movement, not a method or process, and acknowledges participation from prior art and other contributors. (Kent Beck/XP/agile, Steve Blank/Customer Development)
  • It draws on a large existing body of information that requires the learner to know “prior art” or be able to dig back to understand it (e.g. some knowledge of agile terms and practices is assumed).
  • There’s a LOT of amazing great stuff out there if you can find it.


  • As a person newly interested in the movement, I’ve needed to figure out who are the people who are relevant, then do a lot of research into their blogs/videos (and a little into tech press) to figure out what matters.
  • A lot of the conversation is happening on lists, and at conference proceedings (which aren’t always very well documented)
  • There’s a lot of cross-checking involved (e.g. watching a video, the speaker will reference something I need to go follow up)

What’s useful

  • I find Eric Ries’ “talking head” videos about “what is Lean Startup” “What is a MVP” etc, very helpful. Some of them are informal, some of them are a little more produced, but they’re great for linking/sending to people to say “see, this is what I mean…”
  • I’ve found SocratED helpful, because it pulls together some of these distributed resources in a curated way.
  • I’m finding delicious somewhat helpful, mostly to track my own progress, but somewhat to find other links tagged “lsm” and “lean startup.”
  • Quora hasn’t been very helpful to me yet. Still trying to figure out how to use it effectively.

I’ll post some more impressions after the event, watch this space!