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October 25, 2023
How design can drive progress at scale, according to 10 years of research into the connection between leadership, design, and change.
00:04:23 – Design is about helping people make sense of the world
00:09:34 – Maria’s research into the connection between leadership, design, and change
00:13:50 – The importance of understanding people’s resistance to change
00:16:28 – What is a changemaker?
00:18:04 – Design as a noun, a verb, a mindset that can lead change at scale
00:24:30 – Qualities of effective change agents
00:33:19 – Why Maria hates the term “change management”
00:36:12 – Embracing failure as a learning opportunity
00:39:46 – The importance of passion, purpose, and a belief in continuous progress
For three decades, creative teams and business leaders have sought the provocative vision and mentorship of Maria Giudice, GEW DEECE. After founding the pioneering experience design firm Hot Studio and leading global teams at Facebook and Autodesk, Maria’s mission today is to build the next generation of creative leaders.
Through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and team-building workshops, Maria unlocks the potential hidden in executives and the people they lead. A popular speaker at design and business conferences, Maria is also the author of four design books, including Rise of the DEO: Leadership by Design, and most recently Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World.
Maria - 00:00:01: I've been doing design for over 35 years. I have seen the cycles. I've seen when design was in fashion and when it was out of fashion, right? I've seen good economies and bad economies. But through it all, we don't use the power that we have to engage people, to activate people, to help them believe in something bigger than themselves. And so for your audience, I really want to challenge them to step outside their box and what they think they are responsible for, that one piece. I want them to think much wider in what they're trying to accomplish and what their contribution is on the entire system.
Erin - 00:01:03: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Awkward Silences. Today, we're here with Maria Giudice, who is the Founder and Certified Executive Leadership Coach at Hot Studio, a studio you started. And you're the author of a book called Changemakers, How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World. So we're going to talk about changemaking and how to make change. Really excited to do that. Thanks for joining us.
Maria - 00:01:29: Super happy to be here. I promise not to be awkward.
Erin - 00:01:32: Oh, oh. Just a little here and there. We've got Carol here, too.
Maria - 00:01:37: Hey, Carol.
Carol - 00:01:38: Hey, everyone. Very glad to be here. Yeah, really excited to hear some of Maria's perspective on specifically how designers, which I know a lot of our audience is designers and user researchers, how they can drive change. So looking forward to the conversation.
Erin – 00:01:50: Awesome. So Maria, I'm always curious when someone chooses to write a book, which I think is maybe not the easiest thing in the world to do. Why you chose to write the book? So maybe you could start by just telling us a little bit about your background and what led you to writing this book.
Maria - 00:02:06: Yeah, well actually this is my fourth book. You know, I'm really all in it. But you know, it's not that hard for me because I started as a book designer. And I just love the medium of books because that's how I started. And I think of books as a beautiful format to tell a story, both linearly and nonlinearly. Like you can't beat the UX out of me. But I love putting books together. I love starting with research. I love using that research to create insight, organizing the book and ultimately visually designing the book because I was trained as a visual designer. So it's not hard for me. But in terms of like my background, a little bit more color there, I'm going to try to be brief because I am 60 years old, so there's a lot there. Born in New York, well, I started out as a painter. I went to art school. I went to Cooper Union in the village. I went in as a painter. I came out as a graphic designer after meeting Richard Saul Wurman. Could you say he's sort of the grandfather of UX? I mean, he coined the phrase information architects. He fundamentally changed my life because when I was in art school, I just didn't get graphic design. I was taking graphic design lessons just to diversify my portfolio by the recommendation of my painting teacher, which I don't know, does that mean I was a shitty painter? And Richard stepped into our class as a guest speaker. He's a trained architect. He looked nothing like a traditional designer from the 80s, who was white, male, well-dressed, wore black, standoffish. This was this short, fat Jewish man who walked in and looked at us all and basically said, “I'm paraphrasing, you are all full of shit”. He said, “design isn't about you. It isn't about decoration. Design is about helping people understand and make sense of the world”. And that was like the, whoa, lightning bolts in the chest moment where I got it. I got what design meant. And I got the idea that design is about being in service to others. Just that belief has driven, has been sort of the North Star of my entire career. You can tie everything that I've done to that moment when I realized that design is about helping people make sense of the world. I looked at the world differently then, I look at the world differently now. I believe treating everything like a design problem that's solvable. And that has really propelled my career from working for him right out of college designing guidebooks to coming out to California, redesigning the Yellow Pages, to starting my own company and working on the internet, and ultimately working in corporate America and then leaving corporate America and now being a coach. Everything that I've done has been tied to that one moment about design is about being in service to others.
Erin - 00:05:17: It's nice to have someone shake you and say, “you're full of shakers”. That's the right way to think about the world sometimes and for that to have had a lasting impression. But so somewhere along the way, that led you to writing this book, right? So, how did we get there?
Maria - 00:05:31: More than 10 years ago in 2010, I did a TEDx talk. The talk was called Rise of the DEO. And that was when I was the CEO of Hot Studio, which was a large, multidisciplinary experience design company that was based in New York and San Francisco. And I made a very provocative declaration in that talk in that designers have special superpowers that when they apply those superpowers to becoming leaders, they can be CEOs and drive change in companies. And those qualities were being a change agent, risk taker, using intuition, being a systems thinker, people centeredness and getting shit done. Those are our inherent superpowers. Those are incredible superpowers that when we step out of the box that we put ourselves in as UX people, as designers, however you define yourself, when we step out of that box and we apply those superpowers to lead change at scale or lead companies or however you want to apply those superpowers, those are going to be the skills that are needed for today's world. That was a prophecy that happened 10 years ago or so. And look, here we are where we're seeing design leaders at the very tops of companies. We're seeing people like Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky have a Fortune 500 company with a design background. So this idea that if you treat everything like a design problem and you apply those skills and you step out of our boundary, these are incredible superpowers are still important in today's world. So that I did 10 years ago. And then I just saw the sea change for design and design leaders. And then a couple of years ago, I was Vice President of Experience Design at Autodesk. First design leader in a company that makes software for people who make things. This is a heavy tech centric company and I was their first design leader after 35 years. I stepped into that role and I realized that I was, even after all these years as being a design leader, there were new skills that needed to be developed. When I was leading the company and working with 400 designers worldwide, trying to kind of bring that people-centered ethos into this tech company, I felt like I rocked it. I felt like I was making huge inroads. But I also realized that I was making mistakes, because I was learning on the job. And I had the Support of my boss, who was a Chief Product officer. And I had the support of the CEO, Carl Bass. While I was there, there was a shakeup at the top. Carl stepped down. My boss quit. And suddenly, I had no executive leaders who really believed that design should be at the highest level of the company. And so I was laid off, forced out, fired. You could fill in the blank whatever it's called. I was out of a job. And frankly, I was crushed, because I felt like I was doing a great job. Great feedback from people. I was making inroads. So now, I really just aside all the people who are losing their job now, it's not because they weren't great at it. It's just that there are people who don't necessarily think that the work that we do is important for the company at this point in time. It's a hard thing to kind of swallow. So after getting massages, and laying on the beach, and crying, and yelling, and screaming, like what the fuck happened? I took some time and took some stock in what happened, and I was like, “okay, what did I do right? What did I do wrong?” I now see that there are other leaders who are in situations like me who are also learning on the job. So there I go. Put on my UX design research hat, and I got curious, and I started doing interviews. And I just started asking questions of leaders who find themselves in these positions of power leading change very differently than traditional business people or engineer-driven leaders. And 40 interviews later, three years later, I had so much great information to create a book about changemakers. So the book starts like, treat everything like a design problem. Let's get curious. Let's ask questions. Let's create insights. Let's design the book. And tell that story. This book is not only information that, it's not only information that I had based on my years of experience, but it's incredible, honest information from 40 different leaders, not just design, in business and social justice and entrepreneurship, in engineering. So we got a great breadth of interviews and all of that content is reflected in the book.
Erin - 00:10:57: Awesome. I'm curious when you think about your time at Autodesk, are there things that stand out as, okay, you clearly did this well and you're really proud of how that went, or things that you felt like you really had to solve in the process of writing a book?
Maria - 00:11:08: No, so I think definitely things that I did well were, first of all, I went on again, put on my design research hat. I got there, my boss was like, “you're here finally, what are you going to do?” My job wasn't really clearly defined because I was the first VP of design in that company. And I was like, “okay, I don't know, give me three months to listen”. And so I went on a listening tour, and I traveled to different offices. I sat in kitchens. I definitely had sort of my stakeholder map here, the critical people that I need to hear from. But I also wanted to hear from people who weren't in sort of the stakeholder path. And I sat in kitchens. I talked to people in HR. I talked to people in finance. I talked to people in legal, not just product design. I talked to people in marketing. I interviewed probably about 300 people in the course of the three months that I was there. And that gave me incredible context to create and define a vision that would be appropriate for the company at this point in time. So I did all those things. I brought on a great team of people who can work across the company versus in the specific silos. And silos are a big problem in corporate America, and they're hard to overcome. And I communicated, I put out, we did some great internal design conferences and made it multidisciplinary where we invited not just designers, but engineers and product managers. We created a community website for all the designers to connect so that they can share information. We had a research database. Research can also be very siloed. So we collected research worldwide and created a single repository so people could access research and talk to people who are working on similar problems to solve. We did a design system language. We kicked that off after like two years. So we did a lot of things. We created design ops before there was even a term for it. But there were a lot of things I did wrong, like ignoring the people who didn't agree with me. I definitely aligned with people who agreed with what I was doing, and I built a lot of support, but there was a lot of people who were resisting change. And either they're going to be vocal about it or they're going to be really silent about it. I no longer had the executive support and those people who were resisting what I was doing were in positions of power. Suddenly I didn't have the influence to do my job anymore. So incredible learnings there around understanding that not everybody is going to agree with the change that you are trying to lead. Even if you have data, even if you have research, it doesn't necessarily mean that people are going to believe in what you're trying to do. And so that was a big learning for me. You need to kind of look at what are people's relationships to change, how do you bring them along, how do you build trust, how do you bring alliance, especially with those people who don't agree with you.
Erin - 00:14:59: That's maybe a good segue to just get really into the book and the change-making concepts. I like to start with just the obvious question, just in case it's useful and gets us on the same page, which is, what is change? I think it kind of sounds scary on the one hand, or maybe it just sounds like something we inevitably do every day. But there's the aphorism of people hate change. Change can sound really scary. So what is it? And we'll talk about how designers can affect change and what kinds of changes they can affect.
Maria - 00:15:44: Spoken like a true UX person who's trying to define a word that's hard to define.
Erin - 00:15:49: Yes. When someone says it's just semantics, I really light up because it never is. What do we mean when we say change? What are we really talking about?
Maria - 00:15:57: It's like the word change and design. Is very contextual, right? And they're connected. They are the same thing. That's what's so cool about it. So before I define what I think change is, because it's really contextual and there's reasons why change is hard, which I can get into. But while I was doing my research about the thing that I was doing at Autodesk, where I was no longer necessarily, I was caring about the quality of design. I was caring about what design meant in a large company, but I was really changing culture at that level, right? Being at that level. And so I got really curious about what it means to be a changemaker. And I came across this term, changemaker, which was coined by a guy named Bill Drayton in the 1980s. Bill Drayton is the founder of Ashoka. It's a nonprofit organization. And he was really referring to social change, but everything is social change in my view. I came across this definition of how he defined changemakers. People who can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.
Erin - 00:17:24: Yeah, that sounds harder than writing a book.
Maria - 00:17:26: But it also is exactly what designers do. So people who see patterns around them, that's what we do, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change. This was another one of those lightning bolt moments. I'm like, “oh my God, this is what designers do for a living. This is our superpower in a sentence”. And so when I saw the definition of changemaker, I realized that design equals change and change equals design, right? Because the very nature of design is to actually alter an existing state, hopefully make things better, but we all know that that's not always the case. So this notion of design equals change, change equals design, therefore change can be designed, became sort of the basis of our book where we're talking about designing change, using design, design process, design ethos, design mindset, design strategy to lead change at scale, to use those skills to apply to any kind of change situation. The book designers are attracted to this book because this is the very thing that we do. But this book is not necessarily for designers, because anybody could be a designer when they treat it like a mindset and a strategy. So when we talk about the definition of design, which is another one of those favorite questions, I'm like, design is a noun, a verb, and a mindset. And so when we can treat design as a mindset and apply our inherent creativity to solving problems, which we all have inside of us, and we can employ those superpowers that I talked about, that we all could take advantage of, we could design change at scale.
Erin - 00:19:25: So I was joking that change sounds hard, but I also mean it. So I want to talk about a couple of things. One is what makes it hard now, and why should we do it anyway? And on a positive note, but let's address some of the problems and challenges when trying to affect change. Because I'm sure we've all been there, whether you knew you were trying to drive change at the beginning or not, but you found yourself having some challenges when trying to make it happen.
Maria - 00:19:53: Well, I like to say that nobody hires a design team to maintain the status quo. We may feel like it sometimes when we're locked in in Scrum teams or working on product features, but nobody hires a design team in order to maintain the status quo. So we are, and design equals change, it is in our DNA whether we like it or not. So this is the sword that we chosen to fall on. It's hard and rewarding at the same time. It takes courage and resilience because failure is inevitable. But failure is also a way of learning. It's hard now because our problems are more and more complicated and more interrelated in an interconnected world. So our problems are now VUCA, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. And you can't solve problems linearly anymore. And the world is very interconnected and it's one big messy system. And by the way, designers are system thinkers. So that's another reason why we're great superpowers. So it requires a different way of thinking than we have in the past. And in our book, we talk about the different stages. We talk about like the 80s being about finance. We talk about the early 2000s being tech-driven. And the pandemic has solidly ushered in what I consider a new era, an era of design-driven change. Because look what happened during the pandemic. It was awful, but everything changed overnight across the world. Nobody could do what they did before. And everybody had to leverage their creativity to come up with new models of working and living and existing. That was all design-driven change. And we are ushered into this new era, and we are well-suited to be those kinds of leaders that the world needs now. Now, so that's one thing. The environment is really much more complex to work in. But from a human perspective, as human beings, we are wired for survival. And so when information comes into our brains, our brains will either signal one or two things. The brain might signal, oh, this is something good and rewarding, and I'm going to be happy and optimistic and open-minded and creative. Or it was like, “oh my god, this is something new or different or uncertain. I'm going to get threatened, and I'm closed and scared, and all that fear is going to come in, and it's going to prevent me from making change, preventing me from being open-minded”. So we all have these two parts of us. And I often say, when people ask me, like, what's the first step about being a change maker? It starts with you. How are you showing up? Are you showing up open-minded and curious and creative? Or are you showing up scared and closed and fearful? And when you interact with others, they're either going to show up creative or they're going to be fear-based. So you have a complex human system that we have to navigate. And we got to make sure that we're working with people who aren't fear-based. And if they are fear-based, find out what they're afraid of. Help them not be fear-based so that they can unlock their own creativity and participate in being open and curious and being willing to make change happen. So the conditions are hard, and also humans are complex. And so that's why we really try to distill in the book that it's a people problem and a process problem. And you need both of those. But I'm going to end on a positive note, because it's hard, but it's rewarding, because we all want to make the world a better place. Coming back to Richard Saul Wurman, design is about being in service to others. We are in it because we really do believe that we can make a better world with the skills and talents that we have. We have to believe that. And there are setbacks. But it's a discipline to have hope. Hope is a discipline. It takes work, it takes persistence and it takes courage. And that's what we are all tasked to do as designers.
Erin - 00:24:19: Love that. In the book, you talk about some of the mindsets that people who are interested in designing change, some of the mindsets that they have to bring into that. Can you talk more about some of those mindsets?
Maria - 00:24:29: That was a tool that I learned down that I'm a coach. I'm an executive coach. And I was studying, doing coach training with CTI, Coaches Training Institute. It wasn't them. It was ORSC, another weird name, but some organizational company that designs organizational change. And they introduced this model to me about everybody has to go at their own pace in order to cross over an edge. You know, it's like mountain climbing, right? We all go over at a different pace. They identified that there are three different types of personas for people who are about to experience change. The first one is called the Leapers. So these are people who believe in your mission. These are people who are going to sign up right away. They're the ones that will run into the burning building and they want to start things and they have a lot of enthusiasm. They have great ideas and they're highly innovative. You know those people, those people who are really passionate about participating. And it doesn't matter where they sit on the org chart. You're going to find Leapers who are interns all the way up to the high echelons, high levels of the company, right? So you have these Leapers who are going to be adopters, early adopters of the change initiative that you are proposing. So you want to engage with them first, right? You want to build those kinds of support. You want to get them involved very early on, and they can evangelize for you on behalf of you. So that's the first one. The second one is called the Bridge Builders. So these are a group of people in organizations who may or may not be on board. These are people who are looking for more information. So they're going to be slower. They're going to move along a lot slower, and they're going to require evidence. They're going to require data and evidence in order for you to gain their support. I like to say a lot of engineers are like this, right? But not always. But you know those people in the companies who are like, “okay, I see what you're saying, but I want evidence that this is the right decision before you get my support”. They're not resistors, but they're going to move a lot slower to adopt your vision. But once you do get them involved, and once you can point to evidence, they will be on board with you. So they're not resistors. And then the third persona is called the Tradition Holders. Now, this is where I made the mistake at Autodesk. A lot of us do. These are people inside the company that have typically been there for a long time. They're the ones that are going to have most fatigue when they see change in issues, because it's like, “I roll, not again, this person coming in thinking they're saving the world”. These are people who are going to be resisting your initiative at all costs. They're either going to be incredibly vocal, or they're going to be very silent. But they've been in the company a long time. They know where the bodies are buried. They're going to wait for you to fail. They're going to exploit you. And they're going to just wait it out. But they also are people who care deeply about the culture of the company, because they've worked there for a long time. So these are the people, the resistors, that you have to really lean into. And they are a fountain of information. They know what has worked and failed in the past. And so we need to be reaching out to those tradition holders and getting them engaged and making sure that you are understanding what's important to them, what they're afraid of, what they care about, and how do you make them heroes so that they can become supporters?
Erin - 00:28:17: How much time do you spend with each of these groups? Because I imagine it's not zero for any of them. That feels like a mistake. But does it depend on who has the most influence in the organization? Or right? Because you could imagine you could spend all your time on these tradition holders at the neglect of some of these other folks that you need to nurture and bring on board too. I'm just wondering how do you think about spending your efforts in terms of winning over and building relationships with these different personalities?
Maria - 00:28:47: Well, you do always have to know where the power is, right? But you don't just rely on the power, because again, it's not an org chart thing. And people that we think may not have power could have power with the right other leaders on board. So companies are fluid. People move in and out of positions of power. And we make the mistake that we think, “oh, we're going to be reporting to this person who supports what I do”. Six months later, that person might be gone and another person's going to replace it, and it's going to be a whole nother set of contexts. That's why being adaptable is important. So when you're a changemaker, you are a person who's part of a system. And so I don't differentiate. Again, it kind of comes back to that listening tour where I sat in kitchens. Every single person has value and is important. And so I don't prioritize one group over the other. That's a mistake. It's looking at the system and saying, “how do I build support? And how do I look at what I'm trying to accomplish? And how do I get the right people on board who are going to help me be successful?” And help them be successful too.
Erin - 00:30:04: So does it follow then that you really don't need to spend a lot of time with your leapers? Is it sort of you spend more time where you'd need to do the most convincing?
Maria - 00:30:13: Well, I don't know what time really means. It's just this delegation. You could be a changemaker in a group of five people. You'd be a changemaker in a group of 500 people. The difference is scale and delegation. If you are doing something small, you're going to engage people much more concretely, right? But if you're in a larger situation and you have leapers, how do they become evangelists? How do you empower them to not only spread the word, but to actually execute on your behalf based on religion? So it's not like you have to babysit people. But you activate a network and you come up with a strategy to make sure that we're not leaving people behind. You know, so I'll give you an example, concrete example. So, you know, working at Autodesk, four or 500 designers worldwide, one thing I did was I looked at each office as its own ecosystem. So in each office, I'm like, who are the Leapers, the Brits, I didn't know, I didn't name them then, but I was like, who are my supporters? Who are those people who attract other people? Those culture carriers. And I activated those people in their local groups, which then created Scal.
Carol - 00:31:29: Makes me think of the Malcolm Gladwell tipping point, similar idea of finding those networks, those nodes where, again, not in a hierarchical sense, but who has some kind of influence and their sphere of influence to help these ideas carry.
Maria - 00:31:47: I do want to say one thing. I really do think that, as designers, we shoot ourselves in the foot by minimizing our own power. I really do believe designers have a lot of power. And I know it's hard to believe that with all the layoffs that have been happening recently. Everything's cyclical. I've been doing design for over 35 years. I have seen the cycles. I've seen when design was in fashion and when it was out of fashion, right? I've seen good economies and bad economies. But through it all, we don't use the power that we have to engage people, to activate people, to help them believe in something bigger than themselves. And so for your audience, I really want to challenge them to step outside their box and what they think they are responsible for, that one piece. I want them to think much wider in what they're trying to accomplish and what their contribution is on the entire system.
Erin - 00:32:53: I'm thinking about how these different personas, when they come up in the process. And you've mentioned that you can use some design processes, like the double diamond will be familiar for many of our researchers, our audience. But you can use different design processes when you're thinking about organizational design. And I wonder if, one, you could explain what the Double Diamond is for those who aren't familiar, and then share an example maybe of how you've applied that within an organization.
Maria - 00:33:18: Another common question I have gotten on this sort of book is what process do you use? What change management process do you use? Which, first of all, I hate the word change management. I want to like vomit. Like, I'm like, we're change leaders. We're not change managers. But the Double Diamond was, oh God, I can't remember what year it was employed. But it's this idea that it's diversion, conversion thinking, right? So for designers, before Agile was so popular, we all followed this process where you start with, I always like to say somebody identifies the problem. Our job is to identify the real problem. But there is a problem. We do the research, we go wide, we look for multiple input, we look for data, we look for evidence to come up with a point of view. And then we come up with multiple solutions. We test those solutions, we bring it down to one. Divergent, convergent thinking. We test the idea that we think, and then we go build it and deliver it, right? That's the sort of double diamond approach. And then Agile came into the world and rocked our world and said, “you know, nothing's linear, and everything is iterative and work with the smallest unit and measure”. And I remember the early days of Agile, like how does design fit into this process when we think about systems, not think about little tiny pieces of the system. And for years, we've struggled with integrating design into Agile processes. But now, I think we're in a good state. I think that work has been done. And a lot of companies follow Agile, they follow Lean, they follow Scrum, there's all different approaches that people use. So rather than trying to inject another process model into a model that is working in the company, how do you combine them? How do you bring in research, right? Which is continuous, by the way. It's not a checkbox, like here's the time when we do research. We are researchers all the time, and we're constantly listening for input and intelligence and evidence to have a hypothesis that is going to help and improve people's lives, right? So how do you bring research in? How do you make sure that you have a vision, which gives you an idea of where you're trying to go, and then a plan for how to get there? And be open to iteration as new things come into play. And then how do you execute? And how do you start small and you test things as a prototype? Once you test something small, it could be a service, it could be a product, it could be initiative, and you test it with a small group of people and then you start building support around that initiative, then you can bring it to scale, and then you get to 25% tipping point, and then you have scale. So all of these things. And then failure, like I said, is inevitable, but if you're prototyping, that failure is inherently built into that practice, and you learn from failure and you celebrate failure rather than demonize people who fail. So all of these factors are part of the design process that you could inject into any process that the organization is trying to achieve.
Erin - 00:36:43: It sounds like a big piece of what you're saying and a big argument of this book is that the exact design process that you need for designing a product or service is very similar to the design process you need for a larger, potentially more complicated change. You talked a little bit about the people side of things, which I imagine is harder at the organizational level. I'm curious if there are other things that feel different when you're thinking about organizational or larger complex problems, or is it truly just a larger scale with the same type of process?
Maria - 00:37:10: I think, again, it depends on what you're trying to achieve, right? It could be shipping a product. It could be changing somebody's mindset. It could be creating a new service. It could be creating a new kind of change within organizational change within the company, right? So you kind of have to start with what is the thing you're trying to solve, and then you employ these things into that. I don't really see it being very different except that you really are paying more attention to people. And here's another thing I have about designers. Remember, I am a designer, so don't kill the messenger here. We have all our careers have been fighting and bringing design, kind of carrying the cross. Design is important. We need to have a seat at the table. And it's got to be this process, and it's all about serving people and making the world better. And all of those things might be true to some extent. What we don't really do a good job is providing that same kind of compassion and empathy that we give our customers to the people that we work with. And so this is, I would say what's different is rather than thinking outward, think inward.
Erin - 00:38:30: This has honestly been my biggest kind of learning doing this podcast all these years, is that the research you do internally is as if not more important than the research you do externally. Not to say, leave the building, talk to users, 100%. But it means nothing if you don't have internal understanding and alignment of how systems work in the organization that's going to create this change, that's going to have to buy into this change. And nowhere is that more true than what we're talking about right now, which is change making. So yeah, that definitely is borne out in everything that I've heard across a lot of interviews. We're winding down in terms of time. Obviously, there's a ton more to talk about. But I thought maybe one good place to end might be around purpose and passion, which I know are a couple of things you talk about in terms of just having that right mindset to affect change. You talked about clarity of what is the problem? What are we really trying to do here? And then the importance of bringing people on board and communication and handling and talking with people in different ways depending on where they're coming from. Let's talk about passion and purpose just for a minute to kind of bring it back to like, why are we going to bother to endure some of the challenges and failures we'll inevitably experience in this process?
Maria - 00:39:46: I think by now we have determined this is really hard work. It actually, this whole chapter in the book on self-care, because it can, because you are putting yourself on the line, a lot of this is really getting into people work, you know, helping or hurting people, and knowing that you're going to have resistance, and knowing that failure is inevitable. These are things, and then you're going to do it anyway. So that's where passion comes in. The purpose and passion, you have to really believe that what you're doing is the right thing for the right organization and the right people that you're trying to serve. And so you have to believe that and you have to hold on to that, especially when it gets hard, because it's go be hard. And there will be dips, and this, change-making is not short. It can take years to make change happen, years. And there are tons of setbacks. And so that's why purpose and passion is so critically important. And I'm going to share a story with you, somebody who really inspired me, that I interviewed in the book. There's this social justice group called BLOC, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities in Wisconsin, which is the most gerrymandered state in the country. They do everything they can to prevent people of color to get out and vote. This is a woman who's an executive director of BLOC. And now talk about change. Talk about every two years, maybe even less, there's an election cycle. And you are organizing people to get out to vote for their constituents, for these leaders. And sometimes you have winners and sometimes you have losers. And you either win big or you lose big. I'm like, “how can you do this?” You know, when, especially in today's world, when we are all feeling like we're stepping back decades with what's happening in the world right now, we're feeling like, “wow, we've made all this progress and now we're like back to square one”. And she just reminds me that it's like, you have to keep moving forward. And there is no finish line in this work. It is all about progress. And you have to celebrate the progress that you're making in the time that you're making it. And that really kind of wraps purpose and passion all into a nice bow. And that we have to believe in progress. And that's why we do the work.
Erin - 00:42:22: Awesome. I think that's a great place to end, and I definitely encourage everyone to check out the book for a lot more information. And you talk about lots of different examples of different processes and things you can try out. So a great one to check out. Thank you so much for being our guest today. Really appreciate it.
Maria - 00:42:40: Super fun to be here.
Left brained, right brained. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held.