Collaborate Conference: Celebrating UX & Design in the South West

By David Butcher
02 Jul 2018

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Last week I had the pleasure of attending the fantastic Collaborate Conference in sunny Bristol, created by multi award winning UX design agency Nomensa.

It was a day packed full of inspirational speakers and stories, from topics such as Design thinking for Good, Art by AI and Designing for Aliens, but below are the three that stood out most for me!

For a conference named ‘Collaborate’, the first presentation was the perfect way to kick things off. Felicia Williams, Head of Social VR at Facebook, gave an inspirational session highlighting the need and the rewards of building diverse teams. Not just because we should, but because it’s critical to business success.

As she says, “The natural points of friction in diverse teams help us to work smarter”

In a world where AI & Machine Learning are ingrained into everyday life, it will become more and more important to ensure we are aware of our own biases and we don’t pass them on. In Felicia’s words, “Our machines are digital reflections of ourselves”.

After a quick coffee break and some great conversations we dived back in with a talk from Angela Pesta, Director of UX at eDreams ODIGEO, who talked about Designing for Good and the importance of democratising design thinking. As she says, “Let’s not be precious about who gets to be called a designer. Rather, let’s be precious about how we are shaping the world for ourselves and future generations.’

It was great to see Diversity emerging as a common theme throughout the day and Angela agrees that it’s a key factor for successful problem solving – “’Let’s open design thinking up to a diverse set of practitioners for maximum diversity of creative solutions. Let’s look at how we can take on more complex and meaningful problems to have a bigger impact.”

My final pick of the day was a masterclass on ‘The art of collaboration’ from Simon Norris, CEO & founder of Nomensa, who says one of his life’s studies is to get better and better at collaborating.

Simon runs Nomensa under the principle that ‘collaboration is a competitive advantage’ and took us through some interesting principles that he tries to use day to day, such as ‘Organisational plasticity’ (essentially allowing team structures to emerge naturally based on the best way of solving the problem at hand) and ‘Psychological Safety’ (actively trying to judge people’s mistakes less or at least trying to judge them more appropriately, which promotes collaboration and openness within teams).

For Simon, a quote from Pixar’s Randy Nelson sums up nicely why working in this way is successful – “Collaboration is a protocol which enables everyone to work together at the same time, without getting in each other’s way”.

All in all, this was a great day and left me buzzing with ideas. I’m already excited to see what’s on the agenda next year!


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