On The Move With Elizabeth Bacon

S02E09

Matthew sat down, stood up, then sat down again with Lizz Bacon to talk about Personas, Strategy, the Beginner’s Mind, and avoiding large trash bags in the road of life… also, actually in the road.

Transcript

Matthew: Good morning, or ...

Lizz: Hi.

Matthew: Yeah, good morning.

Lizz: It's morning.

Matthew: It's morning.

Lizz: It's definitely morning, it's a Sunday, my goodness.

Matthew: I'm very glad that you could join me for this interview, and, one of the things that we've done with the show a couple of times, is interview people, and it's mostly, like, I want to interview you, because.

Lizz: Well I always love a conversation with you, so, I'm honored to be in this format. My first time.

Matthew: Well, it'll be great. But, actually, why don't you meet me outside? It'll be a little bit better.

Lizz: Yeah, I'm tired of sitting here. Yeah, all right.

Matthew: All right, I'll see ya'.

Lizz: How's that?

Matthew: Ah that's perfect.

Lizz: All right.

Matthew: I'm glad that I'm not the only one who leaves their turn signal on.

Lizz: Oh, yeah, , oh yeah, that is a motorcycle disease.

Matthew: All right, so this is a lot better? Not being cooped up in a, stuffy office.

Lizz: Did I tell you a story, I did a 13 day, motorcycle camping trip. 2,500 miles, I mean, it's a comfortable bike. And I thought I'd come home saddle-sore, and weary, I came home energized, like off the charts, full energy. I went dirt bike riding two days later, and then I get to work, I sit down at my computer. And four hours at my computer, my ass hurt, my back hurt, my neck hurt, my head hurt. We're not meant to be at desks, we're just not.

Matthew: Yeah, even though you're sitting for that, motorcycle trip, it's still, you're active.

Lizz: I mean, it's a full body, it's core, and everything's engaged on a bike. Brain, body. Okay, ready to go?

Matthew: Yeah, I'll follow you when it's safe. Which it is.

Lizz: I wanna try some of my track skills. Hi ...

Matthew: I'm supposed to take it easy on these new tires, so.

Lizz: Tires, very important.

Matthew: So Elizabeth, for the viewer at home, can you introduce yourself? Like who you are, what you do?

Lizz: Lizz Bacon, double Z's, fresh this year, I am a digital product designer and manager. It's usually how I introduce myself these days. I have a deep background in interaction design, so that's the field I most closely identify with, but I moved into product management in 2012, thereabouts. I like to work in the domain of healthcare medical devices, and that sort of stuff. 'Cause I find that, "we can do better", in that arena. And it's a place where my heart got engaged in the work in a way that it hadn't, working on, marketing tools and call center tech, and things like that. Funnily enough, I worked on call center tech a whole bunch, and I've been doing that lately actually, but in a healthcare domain. I run my own consultancy, and I've gone back and forth between in-house and consulting over my, almost 20 years in the field. I started at Cooper, which was a really great post-grad introduction to the field, and why I identify with interaction design I suppose, since, it created a good foundation, and what that was all about. Product management was a move I made to have more of a seat at the table. And stop having to just carry that torch into the dark corners, and work from a position of responsibility without authority, which I think is one of the key conflicts we get into as UX professionals. Especially in-house. So, product management's been good to me. I think it's a really important place for us to practice product definition, from a users point of perspective.

Matthew: I think I might have said this to you before, but, I did a little stint as a product manager. And, one of the things I said about it, was, it's like being a UX designer, except people have to listen to you?

Lizz: Yes, exactly, exactly. You're defining the product, you're making decisions about what to do. But instead of having to do it, and (I'm gonna go), do it in such a way that, you're doing it by influence. You actually get to do it with decision. People expect you to make that decision. There are some strange things happening to product management in a highly AGILE development environment. Where they think the product owner is in that position, and unfortunately that's a far more tactical position than I think product management ought to be, but again, you need to practice in all those ways, right? UX can be very strategic, and it can be very tactical. It depends on the size of the organization, and the maturity of their practice, and understanding of what goes into good product and service designs.

Matthew: Yeah, I think that's one of the things that often comes up for me. I said this before, on the show, about having talked to someone who is, by title, a senior UX designer, but, they've got maybe three years of experience. They've never interviewed a customer, I don't want to get into what is UX, but, in a lot of ways, it's like, how can we best, be contributing to making things better. And I think part of it goes to what you just said about company size, and company maturity. Or process maturity, because, the bigger the company, the more likely it is that you're gonna be asked, as an individual contributor, specialize. And the smaller the company, the more hats you're gonna wear. So, if you come up, in a company like Nike, that is a very large company; (I really wish I had six gears sometimes), then, you might be a senior UX designer, but all you do is, either design wire frames, or Pixel Perfect interfaces. But you don't actually go out and talk to people. Because the company's like, no, no, no, we got researchers to do that, you don't have to do that. And I really feel, in a lot of ways, unless there's a good structure, and again, process within the management system. That, that's a lost opportunity, for career growth for these people. And also for a more robust understanding of what it is they're actually producing. Whether it's research or design.

Lizz: I have so many buts on this, I mean, the field has grown around me, and, I always hark back to the impressions of Kim Goodwin's talk at Interaction '08, the keynote talk she gave which was, Each One, Teach One. And the core, wonderful thing, one of the core wonderful things at Cooper, was that it had an apprenticeship model, and the beginning designer dropped into a, became a third person on a two person design team. And I won't get into paired design, necessarily. But, anyways. And user experience design is a field that ought to have an apprenticeship model. You learn by doing, and you learn from people who are masters around you. I think what's nice about a large field, and a large company, is that if you want to specialize in research, you have that ability. But, fundamentally, what we're doing is so deeply collaborative, you cannot do it alone. You can not do it alone. You just have to find ways to bounce ideas off others, find that direction, cross across any walls that may be between research and design. It will make a better product, and you a better person, and practitioner. So yeah, I vehemently agree, it's really hard to be that UX team of one. There's a book on it, if you ...

Matthew: That's right, it's, who is that?

Lizz: Leah Buley.

Matthew: Leah Buley?

Lizz: Leah Buley's yeah. So, you know, but the thing is you need a community. I mean, we're humans, we have to have community, in all these ways, and, I think you're a real community builder, and that's one of the things you see so clearly. It's not about titles or walls, it's about coming together and sharing knowledge, and, I kind of burned out, many years ago now, volunteering for the Interaction Design Association, that that's another group, that is a global community, trying to create spaces for us to do our thing and by the way, there is so much open road in front of me, I just, I couldn't help it.

Matthew: That's totally fine. I'm sure the Range Rover that's behind me is appreciative that we sped up.

Lizz: I find that totally funny.

Matthew: Yeah, it's a great day for it.

Lizz: The mighty Columbia.

Matthew: You mentioned getting your start really, at Cooper. And I know, when we were setting this up, we talked, ever so briefly about personas, I know that, that was about the time that things were getting started around that right?

Lizz: Yeah, you read the published, "Inmates Are Running the Asylum", which talked about personas, and obviously about phases in the market too. But Cooper was growing so fast, like I was employee 35 or something in '99, and by 2000, I think we were at 60, and we got up to 75 or something, before the .com crash. So there was a real need to train up new designers and represent the idea of personas in a repeatable fashion, like make it more of a science, even as, of course, it's an art. But that's what design's all about. Science and art. Yeah, it was one of my, one of the real fun things I did, was work with Lane Halley, and, oh, there's a huge thing in the road, and codify how to make personas, and we wrote up, the great eight of persona creation. And I think it's kinda remarkable how you can take a set of research interviews and insights about the people who do, or could use your technology solution, your situation, you whatever. Your product or service, and and then find the patterns in that. And identify the proto personas, the kind of inherent patterns of goals and objectives and contexts, that feed into these user models, these personas. Over and over again. And I just had so much fun taking it back to the set, and doing personas, and creating those models, based on actual users. But without the idiosyncrasies of individual people, and far more specific than a market segment. I don't know, I mean, so many years on, personas are old hat. I think it's old news in some ways, and I don't think there's that much controversy about them? But, it's kinda tragic how much we've fallen back into markets reason, and some of their context they've been working in. In healthcare, we've fallen back into market segments, and really kind of meaningless demographic data, to describe our users, rather than going for true insights about their goals and context of use. So, yeah, personas are a very powerful tool. And every time I don't use them, and then I remember personas, so I go back to personas, the design problem unlocks, the direction becomes clear. And then they become such a great tool for prioritization, and feature, and definition as well. Yeah, I can't say enough good things about them, really. Yeah, and I was fortunate enough to learn about them at the knees of the man who invented them, so that was pretty cool.

Matthew: When I was first introduced to them, I don't think that we were calling them personas, it was still just calling them user profiles. But, I think, it had a lot of what you just described, inherent in their internal design. It seemed to quickly be adopted by groups in the company I was at, at the time, and other companies, and it was entirely informed by market segment research. So, okay, well we've got this persona form, basically, or format, we'll fill in our market research data, oh look, we've got, 60% of what we need, we'll go and we'll talk to the CEO's daughter to get that perspective, and, or whatever. I think what really is fundamental to the lack of design, making as big of an impact at this point as it could have, is, that it's hard, and it takes time, and you can't just make stuff up and hope for the best. But it's so much easier to make stuff up, fill in a form with what you know about somebody, and say, all right, well this is close enough, we can make design decisions based off of this.

- Yeah, it's pretty tragic that, the thing is that I would contend that it's not even that time consuming or expensive. Depending on your domain that you're working in, it can be difficult to recruit the right folks, but the crucial thing, the relationship that exists between market segments and personas, is actually quite tight. And a company should have their market segmentation model done, and know to whom they're trying to sell their solution. And then, as researchers, we come in, and the rule of thumb is for consumer product, you need eight to twelve representative users in the segment that you're going after. Or, for a very technical, or enterprise type solution, you need four to six people in a given role. It doesn't take a lot of people or a lot of time to do the kind of interviews that then give you that insight at a deeper level, into unmet needs and the really ground breaking opportunities for that product to excel, and be adopted and drive loyalty and all that good stuff you want. So you might have a consumer product going out to three market segments, and you need what, 18 to 24 people, it doesn't take a long time. You can do four interviews a day, and two weeks, you got your data. In two weeks you've got your persona analysis worked out on the whiteboard, and you're going over it with your client, or your stakeholders, whatever you got. Then you've got data that lasts you years, I mean, a decade. You could, I mean, depending on your domain. I've been working in healthcare and medical for so long, where things move quite slowly, and people's goals and fundamental human behaviors and responses to health and wellness, don't really change overnight, and you can have a persona set that feeds your product work for a decade. Four, five generations of your product as you evolve to meet those opportunities. So I kinda shake my head at this, "it's expensive" thing.

Matthew: Let's talk about the value of it, rather than the, well not rather than, but, alongside of the expense. Yeah, I just, for a long time, I had a really negative view of personas, because of how I saw it being applied and practiced. Because it was, oh, let's have a two hour meeting. And we'll come up with the personas that way, and we're done.

Lizz: There's a term for that, and it's provisional persona. And that very specifically was meant to call out, yeah, this is a scratchy, white boarded, internal knowledge based persona. And one of the things that we did to call, (oh, I gotta make a left up here), one of the things we did to differentiate that persona from a proper data driven persona, was we never gave it a last name, and we never gave it a real, photorealistic image. So it would have like a really sketchy design. And only a first name, and then that's what helped us call that out, like you can't base your whole business around this sketchy persona that's based on internal knowledge. Yeah, it's better than nothing though Matt, it's still better than nothing, because, you've turned the conversation from, well hopefully a little bit more, from opinions of the people in the room, or the hippo, highest, influencing person in the room or, whatever the hell that acronym stands for. And you've got an external user centered measure against which to define your product. So even that sketchy ass bullshit persona is better than nothing, I would contend.

Matthew: All right, you sold me.

Lizz: Yay.

Matthew: Subscribe me to your newsletter.

Lizz: I'm gonna start up a news letter, yeah?

Matthew: Oh yeah, yeah, me too.

Lizz: I am a believer in a well rounded designer research and design, and I wanted to say a little more too, if the audience here is people at the beginning of their careers, or hiring managers and stuff like that. I think there's so much challenge, getting a good understanding of, (what, oh, I'm gonna get in front of this), I created this UX sundial model, to define the fields of user experience design on a spectrum of soft skills, right. So the soft skills, I contend, are understanding definition and communication. You need to understand the people for whom you're designing, the context on what you're designing, your domain, there's all these activities of understanding and then there's definition, so you need to come up with solutions to serve those needs. You need to make the new model, make the new product, and define, that's kind of the heart of the; when you think about understanding some of the fields like human factors engineering, or usability engineering, they're really, they're for research, design research, their focus is understanding, and then the classic design fields from industrial designing, graphic design, and information architecture, interaction design, they're defining those new things, and those solutions, and then all your activities of communication. Whether that's verbal, visual, even like project management and product management, I think, have a lot to do with communication. If you think about all the fields on the spectrum, you can think about your own abilities and talents and expertise, and think about building a team. What if you did have a good team, where someone's really strong in understanding, another person's really strong in definition, another person's really strong in communication. That could be super charged, three person team for something, as long as you collaborate. And not one person. I don't know, I think you need all three to be a good practitioner, but it doesn't have to be all at the same level.

Matthew: No. And then it becomes an opportunity to cross teach each other, about your strengths, and you just become, a better team, a better, individual contributor. And I know, I know, I know, that building teams is very difficult.

Lizz: Mm, gonna get a tasty stretch of curves ahead.

Matthew: Find your apex. And also, note to self, put it in the proper gear.

Lizz: Man, this bike's revs so high, I can do anything in any gear. I'm up on the pegs, oh my gosh, that day at the track. The next day I could barely walk up and down stairs. 'Cause you're so much like, off the seat, you're essentially standing on the pegs the whole time, shifting your weight from side to side. Oh, outrageous, I leaned more that I ever leaned before. I actually think, something I always have loved about the field of interaction design and these fields, and what we do, is that it's a discipline that you have to take your ego out of, you have to take your own personal view points, largely, out of the picture, except in so far as you're in charge of the decisions, but you have to step in the shoes of your users. And it's not one of the fields of design that rewards a particularly egoic, idiosyncratic, stylish, X-Y-Z. We're not designing furniture, there's no feelings of interaction design, that I'm aware of. And that's a really beautiful thing about it, but it's also very hard, because we get so much ego training in our lives. So research, and getting into people's homes, and lives, and seeing what you're doing for them, is absolutely important. Gotta share that, and spread that around the team, and that's why persona models become a powerful tool, when they're done right. Because you get to share those insights of the research, and the context, and your visibility into the users world, with the rest of the team, who don't have that luxury, don't have that opportunity. I love this stretch of road, I wanna live here, so bad.

Matthew: All right, so what kind of stuff are you working on now, you said you've been doing a lot of healthcare, and I've been doing a lot of health care. Is there stuff that you can actually talk about that you've been working on?

Lizz: Yeah, I can talk in general terms. I have been working on conversational services. Systems that let customers speak with service agents, and in this case, clinical representatives, who can help them with their health issues. It's been interesting, working on that in a very large organization, that has thousands of agents on established platforms, so enterprise level platforms for their call based activities, and trying to work in appropriate, I work on the agent side, and collaborate with folks who work on the customer experience side. Although it's literally a dialogue between the customer and the agent, so we work very closely together. I think it's, an of the moment, sort of area of design. Leading conversational design by, oh my god, I'm gonna space her name, the wonderful lady who works at, I'm so bad at names. Anyways, she came out, and I saw her at Tyfun, oh, Mike Monteiro's firm, right?

Matthew: Oh, Erika Hall?

Lizz: Thank you, Erika Hall's "Conversational Design" was a book that, I read through, furiously nodding. And made all my colleagues at the company buy. But, unfortunately, we haven't really been able to create some of the experience parts of that, that I think are really essential for building trust, and doing conversational design in a coherent way. Which is to say, creating some personality on the vox side of that, some artificial intelligence and stuff like that, into the experience, on a routine sort of reply basis. (Not sure why this person is going 20 miles an hour, in the 45 lane). I'm still running my consultancy, so I'm open to new opportunities and, would like to do something a little more strategic and interesting, to be honest. Oh, this is very tight. Left hander. Is it all right.

Matthew: Yeah, whatever. I'll just go slow.

Lizz: Well okay, I'm just gonna pull up actually, into the traffic, so screw that. Screw that left hander.

Matthew: Bump, bump. The word, strategic has come up, a couple of times in our discussion so far. I wanna talk a little bit about that. 

Lizz: My pinned Tweet, for the last 10 years has been, "UX strategy IS product management." And I intend to prove that in practice. I think strategy means that you're looking at the big picture, and not just working on what's right in front of your nose. You're setting direction, rather than necessarily following a path laid out for you. Even as, obviously, it's still a group endeavor. I mean, lots of people contribute to strategies. It's no one person's job, it could be the C-E-something person's job, but I don't usually see that.

Matthew: On that point, it's like everybody's job to be strategic.

Lizz: Is it though?

Matthew: Well, I think it is, a little bit. I think if you're designing a mobile app, and you're like, well I just made the form work well, so that we can reduce abandonment, or whatever whatever the thing is. If you don't have an understanding of what the inputs are to that, and what the outputs are to that, and why you're even doing it, I don't have any science to back this up, but I feel like that informs you, better than if you're just drawing a really Pixel Perfect UI.

Lizz: Yeah, and maybe it's pedantic, but it's like not everyone is creating the strategy. But everyone needs to be informed of the strategy. Aware of the strategy. And so no matter how tactical the task in front of you, you can line it up with the greater strategy that's in view. I have a line about product management which is, the job of product management is socialization and alignment. And I think every time I share that with somebody, they nod and agree, I mean, it's what it's about at it's heart, is still influence, rather than dictates. But by socializing your strategies, by socializing the problems you're solving, socializing an understanding, and the people for whom you're designing, you create the alignment needed to move all in the right direction, and we can't be everywhere all the time. You want that developer working on that form field, to understand that this is a person, the user is very interrupted and distracted, and if you can build in form field validation in place, you're gonna save them from abandoning the form, or getting it wrong, and having a problem. Up and down, yes, everyone needs to be strategic even as, I think, it does work best when there's a small informed group of people, defining and setting the strategy.

Matthew: Yeah, I think that strategy gets informed by what the people, quote, unquote, are on the ground doing. Obviously it gets informed by the research, it gets informed by, what is the business trying to accomplish, but to your point around, you said socialization and alignment, and again, we might be getting into pedantry here, but, yeah, let's go for it. We're back to the start of the show people. We're gonna start defining what, what is UX?

Lizz: Oh no. Denied.

Matthew: You know, that's kind of my job as, whether I'm doing service design, or UX design, is socializing and aligning the research, the design choices, so that when it comes time the final read out, or you're getting close to launching or something. What you're doing is, you're reducing the risk that you have a swoop and poop moment, where someone comes in and says well, this is all great, but I really like blue. And then you're like, uh oh, that's back to the starting board, or drawing board. And I kinda feel like, I totally agree with you, obviously, but this goes back to the whole everybody's sort of responsible in some respect for the strategy, either being informed by it, or contributing to creating it, is everybody is responsible for, justifying is not the right word, but informing people about their role, and about their contributions and why their decisions got to the point they got to. That it isn't just here's the interface, or here's the requirements, go. Everybody's brought along, and again, I feel like it's one of those things that's seen as well, that's just gonna take a lot of time, that's a lot of meetings, that's a lot of blah blah blah. I've found that overall, you have less redo.

Lizz: Absolutely.

Matthew: Fewer iterations, or fewer unimportant iterations.

Lizz: Yeah, 11th hour changes of direction are so costly. Absolutely, so much of what we do in our profession is actually around that communication piece, and collaboration piece. And whether you're a consultant or you're in-house, that effort to get everyone's skin in the game, and voices heard at the right points, and then guide the research, and then guide that checkpoint, where everyone comes back together to absorb the research findings, bring people in at the right moments to have them stay aligned through the process. It can take a delicate touch, it can be very difficult if you have someone who really wants to put their stamp on it, or where you have turf wars inside your organization and you need to serve multiple masters and, I mean, it's endlessly difficult and varied, how that whole thing plays out. So, good listening, empathy, compassion, leadership, articulation of direction in a way that's accepted and that's seen as appropriate. It's really something that we're always growing in. Across our years in the field.

Matthew: I hear hiring managers say things like, hey, what's your favorite design tool?

Lizz: Duh, , my voice, and my brain?

matthew: The focus on a lot of design education, maybe not so much the formal education, but the informal education of, if you just learn Sketch, if you just learn Figma, and you use this framework, that's all you need to know, right?

Lizz: Oh, it's very small-minded. Do you know, it reminds me, I often talk about it, 'cause it was so huge for me. So I did three years at Cooper, and I was a senior designer within a year, it was a booming consultancy, and we would ride in with so much power, as a consultancy like that, to an organization. And we would have our define, I mean our engagement managers were awesome, so we'd have an awesome project plan, and we'd execute on research and design and detailed design, and deliver these awesome solutions. And then, my next role was in-house at St. Jude Medical. And I was part of a team, and I was the first person of my kind, to be an in-house employee there. And I was working on cardiac for the management devices, so pacemakers and defibrillators and I ended up designing the operating system that the the programmer machine, this custom laptop based system, which programs, interrogates and programs and manages those devices across the lifespan that they're implanted. I had to work with clinical engineers and software engineers, and marketers and regulatory folks, it was extraordinarily cross-disciplinary. I didn't know how to program arrhythmias, but what I did was have to operate in that environment and get my users centered insights to be absorbed. Well, the consulting skills weren't necessarily preparing me for that cross-level of internal collaboration, and god bless my awesome manager, found a class at UCLA called, "Persuasion Skills for the Technical Professional", and this class was so valuable to me and really woke me up to an area that can make me a lot more effective. It ended up, in particular that class, it was basically consultative sales, and consultative sales says, in order to have someone accept what you're selling, to be persuaded, they have to feel they need it. Which sounds really air headed, but it actually is kind of insightful. You can't sell something on the merits, you have to have a dialogue with someone, and find out what their needs are, and then line up the thing you're selling to show how it serves their needs. So, oh my god, I mean, right there, a practice of listening; think (I'm in the right lane), listening and understanding and dialogue it's essential to this practice. You can't just march in and do your own thing, and expect it's gonna work out well. Good stuff, yeah, always something to work on. Beginner minds. What can I learn here, what don't I know? What can this person teach me? Really, really significant to good outcomes. My god, I'm leaning like I never leaned before Matt. That was like, I seriously had a breakthrough. Beginner mind baby.

Matthew: Yeah, I'm currently slowly integrating trail breaking. It's very hard for me to throttle, and hold the throttle where it needs to be, and adjust it, but at the same time, be reaching out and braking.

Lizz: Yes, it's exercise for the hands.

Matthew: So what kind of strategy stuff would you want to be doing?

Lizz: I had a pretty sweet role, a couple of years ago, I had an opportunity to work as head of product for a start up in Australia. So it was a Qantas company, under the Qantas umbrella. They decided to launch an insurance business. And one of the key differentiators for the health insurance product was a wellness program. Incentivized with Qantas points, and it's such a genius thing, because in healthcare and wellness, what we're always trying to do is get behavior change, and humans don't change their behavior without some real burrows under their skin, or some shiny object in front of them. So either extrinsic or intrinsic motivations. So this amazing opportunity, as head of product, and I got to manage a team user experience designers, product managers and visual designers. Creating the next feature sets and setting the strategy and defining the digital roadmaps for this company, and I got a lot out of that sort of role, and the combination of managing people, and mentoring, and growing their skills, everybody's skills in each of their areas, really coming together as a team. And we would work, basically on our two platforms, a product manager, user experience designer, and a visual designer, were this triumvirate. So growing, adding new practices, I defined an entire double-diamond AGILE development methodology, based around design, thinking approaches, the opening and the closing, the investigation, and the definition, got to really approve the product itself, and get my fingers in that, so all of that was, that was some good stuff. So I really would love to do more at that sort of executive level, in a healthcare medical device type of setting. I like process, as much as I like detail design. Yes, I mean, it's so funny to me, these design firms that wanna say processes is like a four-letter word, and creativity should be chaos. That's such a load of crap. If you don't have a good process, and underlying sense that there is some stability, you're gonna have to put all your energy into that. So having a really solid process foundation I think, enables creativity within the areas where it's needed. What are the creative ways to deliver a solution to this need. Not, how do I get my shit done, and who do I talk to when ... Um, yeah, so. That would be kind of my dream job.

Matthew: Was Qantas pretty open to that?

Lizz: Absolutely, that's the thing that was so great, and I stepped in, and they had a very reactive process, such as it was. They were three months post-market launch. So I was the first permanent head of product in the role, and the organization was really eager for design thinking and research, and getting that voice with the customer. We had a ceremony, called walk the walls, so it was a deeply AGILE group, and all the executives we'd come together, and everybody in the company was invited to walk the walls. And the walls were covered with all the artifacts of research. Whether it was marketing research from the various sophisticated email and browsing sort of insights, that Qantas had as a company, 'cause half of Australians are Qantas frequent flyers, we had tremendous insight into the whole landscape of our users. And then the artifacts from interviews, and usability testing and browsing behaviors on our website. App activities and what people are clicking and where they're going. So walk the walls, and we would, the president would be there, and would hear some insight, and green light a new initiative, or have an insight about our customers that would lead to a better decision at the roadmap meeting the next day. Indeed, I was invited and was part of some groups to define product management, which wasn't a particularly mature discipline there. They had product owners, because of AGILE, but no real sense of what product management meant across the entire lifecycle from inception to market release. Yeah, it was rad, so there was a lot of socialization and alignment. And that every team has that advantage, so we're really moving to more and more distributed teams. So, it would be interesting to see what sort of digital companion there is to the physical wall for that. Yeah, we have to share, we have to expose, and I actually had to let a couple people go under me, in that role, I mean, being a manager isn't all fun and games. And one of the people who had to go, was someone who got very, a designer, who got very huffy, when anyone asked questions about her materials on the wall, including the boss man himself, who would ask questions, and she would get super defensive and not have the right attitude of collaboration, open listening to what was being asked. The fact that the head of the company is asking questions about your research or your design, ought to be an opportunity for celebration. How often do we get that line of communication? It's tremendously valuable, so we have to drop our defenses, we have to drop our reactiveness in some of those scenarios. And again, it comes back to beginner mind, lack of ego. A sense that you are always learning, you are always a disciple of new information. And you need to constantly integrate it, not push back, not reject, not defend the old viewpoint, which may have just been refuted, if you can open your eyes. Yeah it's not easy. So we would have so many great things I got to do there. We would have a like a town hall demo day, every month, I can't remember how often it was now, but we instituted, at the end of it, a one minute pitch, anybody in the company could come up and do a one minute pitch for a feature, or even product or benefit or value prop, whatever they wanted. And it was so cool, we had really interesting ideas come at us from the finance department, the people who watch the Qantas points accumulate and go by. Creative concepts that led to changes in contact center processes, and features added or a roadmap. And everyone felt like they had a voice, and as such they were even more invested in what we did do. It was rich, yeah.

Matthew: So where I would want to be, strategic, the short answer is, I really wanna help companies either figure out or understand better, the why, and the what. Why are you in business, what are you trying to accomplish. If we talk about how at all, it's only as a scaffolding for talking to the what and the why. When a software company comes, and they're like, this is what we're doing, and I'm like, well, maybe you should be a teacher business. That's a ridiculous pivot, of course, but I'm really interested in working with companies that are open to either having that conversation for the purposes of generating what they should be doing and why they should be doing it. Or at the very least, we validate that what they're doing, yeah, they're actually on the right track, and it's about more than just whatever the current revenue is. What keeps a lot of people from engaging with us, at that level, as they're like, whoa, you know, we're making money. We're in the black, (guess I should be going faster). We're in the black, and everything's great. We're growing as a company, and maybe it is great, but if it isn't continuously assessed, if you don't stop and say, are we still sure that this is the right thing to be doing. Are our motivations still accurate. And the motivation can still be, we want to do an exit, we wanna sell to X-Y and Z companies or whatever. I mean, that's fine, I'd rather see companies building up sustainable products and services that are basically built to last as long as they can at least.

Lizz: We wanna do meaningful work. Get our mastery, get our autonomy, and get our meaning from our work, it's all better that way. Delivering products that make lives better. We have so many problems on our planet right now. We really have no end of ways to help, I think, in what we do, and how we approach it too, right. And bringing the compassionate line. It may be hard to hear, and the answer to that question, when you ask it compassionately, with this intent to improve, I think that it serves everybody really well.

Matthew: So Elizabeth.

Lizz: Yes Matt.

Matthew: Was that all right, to do an interview like that?

Lizz: That was all right. I was concerned ahead of time about the, airplanes, I was concerned about the airplanes. I was concerned about the airplanes. The divided attention. So much of high performance driving, and riding the motorcycle is concentration and just being completely present. It's meditative for me in that way, but, you made it easy to chat, I guess. I guess I have a certain amount of just intrinsic stuff I can talk about without having to over think it.

Matthew: Well it was good stuff to talk about, and stuff that I think needs more discussion. Always more discussion. And, then action, of course.

Lizz: Yeah, but openness to investigating, and looking and improving seems to be one of the themes today. So yeah, keep on, keep on fighting the good fight. People out there, there's nothing but good stuff to be done, when you're bring the right intentions, and bring people together, get them aligned around the problem, you socialize solving.

Matthew: Like airplane noise.

Lizz: Airplane noise, yes.

Matthew: Yeah, okay, well thank you for--

Lizz: Thank you.

Matthew: Chatting with me, and doing it in a fun way. And I look forward to reviewing the footage and realizing that one of the cameras was off the whole time, or something.

Lizz: Technical difficulties.

Matthew: That's the fun part, of going out in the field, right?

Lizz: Yeah, try new things. You'll make mistakes, and learn from them.

Matthew: You will.

Lizz: Thank you.

Matthew: Thank you. Never know how to end these things, so let's just end them. Bye.

Lizz:: Ciao.

Matt: All right, good show people, good show.