Sunday, November 27, 2016


This past month has been a month of exploration for OE Strategy — a month of exploring what OE Strategy is about, what we want it to be about, and different ways of better achieving that. We're motivated to work in multiple areas and in multiple ways, but think it might be best to be more focused.

Some of our exploration was facilitated by several professional events one or both of us attended (not surprising, given the importance we place on such events). After attending a talk by Jen Pahlka (Founder & CEO of Code for America) at Creative Mornings Oakland, I attended her Code for America Summit the following week — an event that repeatedly emphasized the need for and the importance of user experience research and user-centered design in civic tech. 

We’ve worked in this space before. For example, here is a subset of the projects of this sort on which Susan and the staff of the consultancies which Susan led in Australia worked:

Should we attempt to concentrate our work in this space?

We both attended a talk by Brett Hagler about the history and status of New Story Charity, a small non-profit which outperforms the large non-profits in building low-cost homes and communities in third-world countries. Brett emphasized the importance of co-design to their success thus far and revealed that they want to do much more.

Some of our work has focused on third-world countries. Should we concentrate our work on teaching or facilitating co-design to or for these kinds of startups?

Susan attended a panel on designing for social innovation which featured multiple examples during San Francisco’s Social Innovation Week, while I attended the Apps 4 Change Demo Day at UC Berkeley as well as a panel on designing to bring people together. Some of the presenters at all three events focused on health(care), which has been the focus of some of our work. Should all our work be in health(care)? If so, in what way?

I also attended a session on the challenges of shifting to co-design and of designing for recipients of research findings, and a session on organizational design for design organizations, some of many key issues faced by design leaders world-wide.

Both Susan and I have held multiple experience research & design leadership positions during our careers, and I’ve taught design leadership courses and workshops while writing a lot about design leadership issues. Should we concentrate our work on design leadership for organizations striving to make a positive difference in the world?

We’ve also been contacting other individuals and organizations working in the above areas, inquiring about potential partnerships and soliciting their advice.

What advice do you have for us? Should we concentrate our work on a particular area such as one of those mentioned above, and if so, which one and in what way? We’d love to hear from you. (See our website for current contact information, or just leave a comment below.)