Hello! You’re getting the email because you’ve either (1) joined The Mighty Minds Club, (YAY!!) or (2) asked to be notified about The Might Minds Club at launch.
Most of what I have to announce this week relates to upcoming salons!
🗓️ Thursday, October 8th—We’ll be chatting with speaker, author, and creativity evangelist Denise Jacobs. We’re all official now, with an official time and date and an official registration page. Go register!
🗓️ The following week, I’ve got a special panel lined up, featuring the Mighty Minds of Jorge Arango, Dan Brown, andDonna Spencer. We’ll be talking about what we can learn from tabletop games. More details and a registration page to follow. But, know that this will be held at a time that’s somewhat APAC friendly. ⏰
👏 A big thank you to Debbie Spalding who is working behind the scenes to setup some tools and processes to keep future Salons humming along smoothly.
At Euro IA, Peter Merholz asked a question that gave everyone pause, that I thought would be great to share here:
We often value/judge teams by ‘productivity’. These Current Times suggest that might not be the best measure of success. What other measures of team success should we consider?
Head on over to the Question of the Week channel in Slack, and share your thoughts!
(Not associated with Mighty Minds, but perhaps relevant to YOUR interests?)
World Interaction Design Day is happening Tuesday, September 30th. There’ll be dozens of talks and topics, spanning the globe and timezones. Oh, and I’ll be giving a short talk about ‘coordinating people’, where I’ll unpack this little model I’ve been working on:
My good friend Eva-Lotta Lamm is kicking off a series of five online classes on “Pragmatic Sketching”. She’ll be teaching “foundational drawing skills for all those who want to learn (or improve) how to draw things in a simple, clear and pragmatic way.” First class starts October 7th. And… Eva-Lotta is an awesome, authentic, thoughtful, pragmatic instructor. 👍👍 (She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to try to get her involved in an upcoming salon 😉).
On New Tools
It’s been quite a month for new card decks and toolkits.
A few newsletters ago, I mentioned the distinction between debate and dialogue. Here’s a somewhat more critical take on the role of debate. (HT Jesse James Garrett)
On Language and Reframing
This simple advice on how to choose words that motivate students could apply just as easily to adults and employees. Instead of “I expect you to…,” say, “Your next challenge is…” And more examples!
On Good Interview Questions
Interview questions are a ‘dime a dozen’ and sprinkled all over the internet. That said, I really like the high-quality questions shared here:
40 Favorite Interview Questions from Some of the Sharpest Folks We Know | First Round Review. Several questions gave me pause. 🤔
On Exposing Content Structures
“Breaking the fourth” wall in theater and movies is nothing new (to me). What I hadn’t paused to think about though is the kind of stage or four-camera context or structure that sets up a fourth wall to break. Using this a starting point, Deane Barker likens this to how we present content on screens, and muses on Breaking the Fourth Wall of Content. But, he asks, “perhaps it makes sense to reveal the underlying structure a little more?”. Consider this excerpt:
the very idea of content created for an audience is deeply imbued with the idea of “them” and “us.” We (us) create, manage, transform, and deliver. They consume.
No conclusive recommendations, but… thought provoking.
On Safety in the Retro
Behind the scenes, I’ve been quietly collecting specific ways to nurture psychological safety in teams. “Safety and The Agile Retrospective” offers a good way to assess whether folks feel safe enough to even have a good retro meeting, and what to do if not.
There’s a bunch more stuff I picked up at Euro IA, but… I’m still digesting, synthesizing, and parsing all that information. Look for some of this information in future newsletters. 😅
I’ve been to a one or two conferences throughout my career (wink). While we tend to talk about the speakers and the content, these are really social objects around which the more interesting—but less tangible—things happen. If you’ve been to some conferences, you probably picked up on the phrase “hallway conversations,” referring to the impromptu discussions that happen outside of the formally planned events. While you can’t plan for these serendipitous moments, a really well-designed event will create a structure that allows for and encourages these interactions. Aside from the hallway conversations, there’s also the sense of community, stimulating conversations, and new friendships that all form as a bi-product of a good gathering of people (AKA a “conference”).
In the quick shift to online only events, it seems like a lot of conferences have focused on the speakers, which can be problematic. One, because that’s not really the primary reason to go to a conference (see above). Two, the one-way broadcasting tendencies of public speaking combined with screen delivery is exhausting. And, we—as an audience—are more prone to on-device distractions.
Anyway, all of this is to say I really enjoyed last week’s Euro IA event. This is the first digital conference I’ve been to where I felt that connection with others, a sense of community, and that very meta ‘1+1=3’ knowledge building in response to the talks.
Sure, things were rough and raw around the edges. Minor tech hiccups here and there. I know that behind the scenes, things were stressful for the organizers. As a speaker, I had to cut animations out of my presentation and abandon ideas I had for breakout room activities. But, I saw an upside to all this: In exchange for a less polished streaming event, we got something much more valuable: Back channel chats where people shared things inspired by and beyond the talks themselves. As a speaker I actually got kudos and feedback on my talk—not quite the same as in person, but better than some of the other events I’ve been to in 2020. And some of the platform features were designed to facilitate facilitate impromptu connections. The tool we used has a networking feature—akin to speed dating—where you’re paired with a random person for three minutes. While a bit stressful for an introvert, this random pairing was also one of the highlights for me (it didn’t hurt that this immediately followed my keynote). We also had a chance to play with a new tool that tries to mimic a real life cocktail party by using 3-D audio; using gamelike controls, you move your avatar in a 2-D space, which adjusts the audio in a corresponding way. It was a bit surreal, and the tech will be better with video integration, so we can read body language (as it is, it feels like a group conversation where everyone is blindfolded!). But, this online experience is the closest I’ve come to moving from conversation to conversation or bumping into new and interesting people. Definitely a different experience to the wall of faces many of us see every day on Zoom.
In short, it was fun. (And I learned a lot.)
And… For any of you organizing events, it looks like Jason Mesut is sharing what he learned as an organizer of this year’s Euro IA event. Whoo hoo!
“Language is the mother, not the handmaiden, of thought; words will tell you things you never thought or felt before.” — W.H. Auden