Living & working the gaps. .

defending diversity
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5 years ago I was 5 months pregnant and about to step on an airplane for the very first time. It was for work. I was stoked to be visiting NYC, but not so stoked to ask my (frequent-traveler) manager for tips.

I swallowed my pride as I pushed away triggering memories. Like that one time my manager made me feel like crap for not having a smart phone (because everyone and their mom had a smartphone before me…) Just like that time I cut class because I was about to be picked to go to Poland, and there was no way I could leave my job and my rent behind…

Everyone in my professional circle had been on a plane before, duh. Everyone at MCAD, double duh! I learned to not embarrass myself by exposing my truth but I never straight up lied either. I mean, most people I met go abroad on the reg, no way I would reveal I took my first vacation at 30.


Shame..

Vulnerability..

It’s a thing.

I swallowed it, surrounded by the privilege of the industry and my cities elites, as I tried to survive student loans and leveling up. I felt left out, less than and embarrassed all through college because of this. Why did I think this would change when I got into my career?

 

We are still seeing and living the privilege gap more and more and more each year…. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

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Outside my hotel window they were building the Westfield World Trade Center – “The shops at the Oculus” while 70,000 New Yorkers slept on the streets…


We think we’re good, but we need to do better Twin Cities. Stop hiring your best friends. Start recruiting in the inner cities. Recognize how you speak and live and work widens the gap between people like you, and people not like you- and why this is systemically problematic.


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I was 26 and finally went on an airplane! You won’t believe the story of me getting this picture….


I have it good. I am so thankful for these awkward experiences. This silly travel story.. absolutely nothing compared to the absolutely crushing realities our neighbors live with daily.   We can do better.

 

How do we start to hack this gap?






Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

My Why

heatherlee nguyen
COMMUNITY
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It was a hard decision to start working independently. I love being completely immersed in a problem, embedded on a team, iterating. But as motherhood really kicked in, and the world around us started changing, so fast, I made the jump. Hereโ€™s why..


Flexibility to Connect

Making connections out in the world motivates me. Whether itโ€™s studying nature to make more sense of a design problem or scheduling coffee dates to meet people doing great work.. I consult and operate under flexible hours. Why? to make connections with my communities.


Diversity of Thought & Experience

I donโ€™t like when weโ€™re all the same. I believe diverse partnerships make products and services better for everyone. For me, thereโ€™s a special balance between immersive, in-person collaboration and divergent thinking. Iโ€™m seeking to work with people Iโ€™ve never met, on problems I havenโ€™t heard about. Why? to be a more compassionate, open designer. for new perspectives. to learn the most I can from as many unique experiences as possible.

This is why you hire me.


Never not networking

Iโ€™m always out there meeting people. New projects, new partnership, new problems to solve. Whatever the reason, Iโ€™m never standing still. I am not locked down with one group of team members or one box of tools to use. I know a lot of really talented people, managers, colleagues, fellow consultants.. and weโ€™re always sharing ideas. When you hire me you kind of hire them, too.


Opposite of ladder climber

I have no interest in your job or getting to a certain level within the org. Iโ€™d rather go down the ladder.. get on the ground level with the users and people powering your company. I donโ€™t expect to work in the perfect environment and I will always push for the best, not for a year-end bonus, but because I believe in it.  


After Hours Enthusiasm

Being inspired matters. And letโ€™s face it, the spark of creative genius doesnโ€™t always schedule itself from 8am โ€“ 5. I do some of my best work at 10pm, when the world starts sleeping. So I keep my days and nights fluid for serious heads down time, only meeting with you when we should. Why? to take advantage of those moments of mania. When those juices are flowing, I can flow and really produce.



Motivation to move fast

More often than not my projects have a start and end date. Even though โ€œDesign is never doneโ€ I found myself able to produce much faster with much less red tape after leaving the FTE world. Doesnโ€™t mean I was always right but I could have a hypothesis, prototype, test, discuss, and iterate all in the matter of weeks, days, hours even.

Letโ€™s face it, your in-house team can easily get bogged down with town halls and putting fires out. I have 6 months to a year to produce real results for you. Iโ€™m bringing my bias toward action.


People, Products, Problems with Purpose

Choosing what I work on is a privilege. I was never good at saying no.. but now I know when and why to say yes. I am deeply motivated by meaningful work. I say yes to people making positive impact. To products I believe make a better world. And to problems worth fixing. Why? to use my skills for a greater purpose. to leave the world better than I found it. to use my privilege wisely and make my work matter.



So is this forever? I am very open minded to joining a team full time again. Working collaboratively on a team brings me joy. And that can look a lot of ways! If I’ve recently applied it’s because I’m jazzed up about your company. If you can help me live out my whys above, I believe anything is possible.


Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Day in the Life at Central Command Center

design work, product research, user experience, user research

Best data center Iโ€™ve seen!
๐Ÿคฉ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿš€

Dayinlife4

Iโ€™m working on a recap of this research we did on-site last month. This was such a great group of people, they let us into their workspace to understand their job, process, culture. They were so generous, and funny too! Always a plus.

I love what I do!

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What’s your favorite thing about visiting your users/customers on-site?

dil copy


Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

SAVE THE DATE: Hacking Fast Fashion for Good – Call for Hackathon Participants!

coming soon, events

There are true human and environmental costs to the clothes we wear. From how they are made, who makes them, how they are shipped and what it does to communities, the industry is in dire need of transformation. I’m hosting a 2-day hackathon followed by a fashion show ceremony on May 2-3, 2020.

Are you ready to hack fast fashion? I am teaming up with local business owners and we’re challenging 7 teams to hack fast fashion. Teams can be made up of.. apparel professionals, fashion experts, community makers, designers, developers, directors, artists, movers, shakers and world citizensโ€ฆ. (it doesn’t matter what you do in your day job, if you are a person who wants to work on a team to solve a real problem, sign up!)

HACK FAST FASHION FOR GOOD!

Here’s what you’ll be working on..

The Design Challenge:
How might we reimagine the fashion industry to create less waste, support the betterment of communities and prevent human rights violations?

Considerโ€ฆ
– How might we change behaviors and mindsets around cheap clothing?
– How might we incentivize the industry?
– How might we cater to children and families in the growth phases?
– How might we use natural resources differently?
– How might we restore whatโ€™s been damaged while preventing future harm?
– How might we use less?
– How might we create a movement?

**I’m in the planning phase and looking for collaborators. Venue and more details coming soon. Save the date! The weekend of May 2nd (Saturday & Sunday).

How are you recruiting users to give product feedback?

design work, product research, user research

Quick highlight reel of how we enticed people to come collaborate with us in our booth, and engaged 80+ people to sign up for the pilot group! (They’re excited to be part of the design process. Big hopes to connect with them regularly).

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Thanks to these lovely people for letting us take their portrait! calabrio_portraits_ALL.png

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Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Voice of Customer booth!

heatherlee nguyen, product research, user research
At my clientsโ€™ conference collecting user feedback this week. Two software companies are merging and itโ€™s our job to embody DESIGN AS A STRATEGY. We were here collecting what people love, wish for and what they hope we donโ€™t change as the integration roadmap planning begins. We also held a workshop where we collaborated directly with the customers, it was a big hit! What else did we do? What did we learn? How did these activities help the product team? More to come.. HeatherleeNguyen_C3-03

Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for. Contact info & more about me here.

Design Thinking at its finest!

design thinking, design work, human centered design

Last week at Azul Seven we coached an incredible group in the postures and mindsets of design thinking. 20 people from different departments came together to form teams and learn together.

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It was amazing to see them fully lean in, even when we asked them to spend 2 hours going up to strangers downtown Minneapolis! They gained empathy, created POVs, practiced effective brainstorming, prototyped and tested with real users.

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It was an intense 3-days: A true privilege to see the breakthroughs, to hear how they wanted to keep going after getting feedback, to know how eager they all are to use this new toolset when they returned to work this week.

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And this week, we do it all again! Day 1 with a different group from the same organization. Their goal is to have 100% of their workforce be trained in design thinking.. music to my ears!

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If you were hosting a bootcamp to teach your clients or teams something new, what would the topic be?


Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

I love my job!

design work

Stoked to be coaching 3 full days (x2!) of design thinking bootcamps with my favorite local agency. Theyโ€™re training me this week, to do it their own unique way.. techniques theyโ€™ve been recognized for, and one of the reasons Iโ€™ve wanted to work with them for years. Dream come true to have made it here, collaborating with them, learning from them and helping their clients with big juicy problems.

hearts_postit

Come next week Iโ€™m โ€œcertifiedโ€ to coach! ..but as with everything, I keep that learners mindset. I may be coaching but I am always a student! Thatโ€™s the greatest part about working in design We donโ€™t know everything and we donโ€™t pretend to. But weโ€™re curious. Weโ€™re open to change. We deeply love humanity.. And we hope to give others the tools to believe they too, are designers. We are all design thinkers at the core.. just a muscle we must discover and exercise. We are coaches but you are experts. We are facilitators but you are doers. This is about you bringing this practice to everything you do. This is a mindset shift. This is a culture change. This is practice at its best โœจ


Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Iโ€™m passionate about helping you bridge the gap between your product teams and the people you design for.

Contact info & more about me here.

Work Space Matters

design work

True or false?

wall_krisa

True or false? My team has a dedicated work space where we can fill walls with our research, our post-its, our concepts.. where we can ideate, iterate, organize and gather?

False? Forget the open space, forget the free coffee, forget the bring your dog to work days.. GIVE YOUR TEAMS A SPACE! To own. To create. To ideate.

 

Thatโ€™s your #transformationtuesday challenge.. donโ€™t have a war room? Find one, make one.

venus_wall

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Tแ•ผE Iแ‘Žแ—ชIE แ‘•Oแ‘Žแ”•แ‘Œแ’ชTแ—ฉแ‘ŽT
๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜ ยป๐—–๐—ซยซ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป

I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.

 

Learning matters

design work

Understanding the need..

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I’m crafting a research plan which includes a 3-pronged immersive study complete with a plan B and a plan C because letโ€™s face it.. B2B user research doesnโ€™t always go our way.. you might need to get scrappy, you might need to compromise. No matter how we slice it, my job is to make sure weโ€™re learningโ€” that weโ€™re getting quality feedback, understanding user mindsets, the software capabilities and flaws in each context, and WHY whatโ€™s not working needs to be better. If we donโ€™t understand the business challenges, the user challenges, we canโ€™t fix or build the right things.

Understanding the problems comes way before dreaming up solutions.

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I’m Heatherlee. An independent research and design consultant with a background in UX, a passion for service design, an interest in biomimicry and a stake in your strategy. Thanks for stopping by!

Contact info & more about me here.