Thanks! Feedback and Iterative Design

November means it’s almost Thanksgiving! Around Thanksgiving, I like to reflect over the past year and think about what’s great, what could have been improved, and overall highlights. Think of it like a yearly progress report.

For me, feedback is a really important part of learning. How can I grow? How can I develop? What skills can I gain? What am I good at? These are a few questions I try to ask myself to learn more about how I can be better. In school, when students are measured on a metric of grades, perfection is the goal. But in seeking feedback, I’m looking more for what I’m good at, and how I can substantively improve…and iterate my life accordingly!

We’ll start with the good. This year, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about my IGTV videos, ability to learn digital marketing and branding, and skills in synthesis and facilitation. Further, I’ve started tracking food and money —learning more about myself and creating actionable insights of how I plan my week. I’ll consider those my pro’s.

I also have learned that I want to learn more in the areas of presenting more, leadership, and communication. Something I picked up from a friend at a hackathon is perhaps a bi-weekly check-in about “How am I doing on a scale of 1-10?” and following up with “How can I be a 10?” to get more imminent, actionable feedback.

Will end on a few things I’m grateful for this holiday season:

  • Family (spouse, parents, brothers, cousins coming out to support me)

  • Self-Awareness (to reflect on and learn more about myself)

  • Good Coffee (for the last push of the semester for grad school!)

Product Thoughts: KPI and Data-Driven ACTION

For my Sustainable Business Models class, we’ve been talking a lot about the Lean Canvas and Business Canvas. I like these frameworks because they create structure for someone to figure out ideas, startups, maybe even form a company. However, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a big focus to learn whether a product or business is successful. But how are KPIs applicable to our daily lives?

In class, our final project is a Personal Sustainability Plan (PSP). My PSP is based on financial sustainability and how much I can/should spend a week. The KPIs for this project are percentage of money I spend on coffee, clothes, food, and overall spend.

Here is my attempt to spend less on coffee. In the last 7 weeks, I have spent almost $200 on coffee.

Here is my attempt to spend less on coffee. In the last 7 weeks, I have spent almost $200 on coffee.

During my bachelorette party week and travel week, I spent…enough money to be ashamed of myself. But I looked at the metrics logically and they drove me to action. Instead of focusing on the emotional judgment, I focused on how I could improve to do better. The following few weeks, I’ve been on track and financially sustainable.

One area I am interested in focusing in on is how to help people separate the emotion from data. I’ve applied this attitude to other aspects of my life. For the last 1.5 years, I’ve been tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal. Some days I fall off, other days I am on track. Recently, I discovered that I had gained 3 lbs, and became more aggressive in my data-driven tracking. I did not get angry or judgmental. Instead, I looked at the metrics and thought to myself: “I will meet certain metrics each day.” Today, I am roughly 5 lbs lighter, having achieved my goal because I looked at data logically to help drive me to action.

My final thoughts are: how might we show data in ways that empower users to take action?

Adobe Max 2018 - My Speaking Experience

Adobe gave me and my partner, Sharon Rajkumar, the honor of speaking at a session at Adobe Max. Our session was highly interactive, with audience participation, a fun break, scenarios, and a timer as a prize. Over 100 people signed up for our session — and it was an exciting experience.

PROS:

Overall, we had a very well sync-ed presentation. We swapped off well and had interesting scenarios. The adrenaline gave us the extra burst of energy to do our best run. Initially, we provided the audience with post-its to provide us feedback with, and the audience was engaged, and provided us a lot of great positive reinforcement and support.

GROWS:

I always like to look for areas of improvement for my next round. It was a big presentation, so nervousness was a factor — definitely more practice and speaking in front of larger would be a benefit.

Also, we both synced on similar styles because our theme was women supporting women. Next time, I would make sure we differentiated our styles to play foils/contrast. We tried a foil dynamic in future meetings about our idea and it worked very well, so I would adapt this into future presentations. Part of styles is authenticity — being comfortable in your own skin. Next time, I plan to wear black or jeans. Projecting an image is great, and I hate to sound cliched, but being yourself is much better.

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Systems Thinking and Digital Transformation

Happy Mid-October! Grad school is in full-swing and we are in the midst of systems thinking. From my macro-level New Economies class, I’ve been thinking about systems thinking and resilience. We studied Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ideas of Antifragility this week and my team is discussing how the idea of preparing for randomness/unexpected events is essential to be designed into the system.

So thus lies the dichotomy: do we align more with our systems? When do we break from our processes (systems) when faced in random events? If we keep breaking from the system, we don’t have a system and every situation becomes unique, custom. But if we adhere too much to our systems, our systems become fragile and unable to adapt to changes. We need a resilient system that can adapt.

Let’s look at this in terms of design, design thinking, and technology in legacy systems. Design thinking is a hot buzzword that companies like right now. Consultants are brought in to drive innovation and change as outsiders. But after this digital innovation system, what happens when the consultants leave? Legacy organizations may revert to their “systems” -or what has worked for the last 100 years. Is the “digital transformation” ever effective? Are the changes sustainable? What effects sustainable digital change?

Digital transformation isn’t just cool new Macs or ping pong tables. It’s a mindset, and a framework that’s socialized across stakeholders and C-level decision makers. That’s why digital transformation is so difficult to implement in legacy systems –things have worked so well so long, why change them?   

But these same stakeholders also often have children or family at the Generation Z (or whatever you’d like to identify them as) and see these changes at a micro level. Personal lives are affected by the acceptance of iphones at the dinner table, or snapping a picture of your meal. So digital transformation is understood as a need, a driver. But how do we move this from a micro level to the macro level?

My question is: How do we scale systems effectively?