Now available: Managing Priorities by Harry Max

The Rosenfeld Review Podcast

Lou Rosenfeld talks with a LOT of brilliant, interesting changemakers in the UX world and beyond. Subscribe to the Rosenfeld Review—or check out all 200+ episodes—wherever you get your podcasts:

Featured Episodes

Angry and Passionate about what AI means to Researchers with Tricia Wang

In the latest episode of the Rosenfeld Review, Lou sits down with social scientist Tricia Wang, coiner of the term “thick data,” and formerly a partner at Sudden Compass. Tricia is passionate about research and AI. She envisions massively improved research outcomes and opportunities for researchers, but only if researchers take the lead in incorporating AI into their work. Rather than seeing themselves as “users” of AI tools, researchers must work as AI’s “shapers,” serving as its senior partner.

Tricia’s vision is to cease the fear-mongering surrounding the subject of AI and instead embrace the amazing opportunities for growth and better work by becoming active in the control of AI’s future.

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The Roots of Inclusion with Victor Udoewa

We hear a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but you probably haven’t heard it like this. Nigerian-born Victor Udoewa, service design lead at the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology, brings a beautiful perspective that challenges current research methodologies.

Victor introduces the notion of the pluriverse, emphasizing that people inhabit different worlds with unique ways of being and knowing. He draws attention to the diverse perspectives that shape people’s beliefs and understanding, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and bridging these gaps.

This episode is just a taste of Victor’s talk at the upcoming in-person Advancing Research Conference, “Beyond Methods and Diversity: The Roots of Inclusion.”

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Decoding Culture: A Lens for Research Breakthroughs with Neil Barrie

In the latest episode of the Rosenfeld Review, Lou sits down with Neil Barrie, the co-founder and CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, to delve into the intriguing intersection of brand building, culture, and user experience research. Neil, an outsider in the realm of user research, brings a fresh perspective from the world of brand research; you can hear more from him at the Advancing Research 2024 conference in New York City, March 25-26.

Neil emphasizes the need for researchers to adopt a cultural lens when designing product experiences. Drawing from his extensive experience working with influential brands like Airbnb, Bumble, Headspace, and others, Neil suggests that by understanding and leveraging wider cultural factors, researchers can break free from the incremental nature of product development and create more memorable, distinctive, and influential brands.

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The Evolution of User Research with Steve Portigal

Author, researcher, speaker, and frequent Rosenfeld Review guest Steve Portigal joins Lou for a chat on the state of the user research industry – where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. If the field of research was once a lonely desert, today it’s a jungle. It was once a field where researchers could get lost and forgotten. Today, the field is teaming with life—so much so that you could get eaten alive.

Gleaning lessons from the past, Steve doesn’t want us to forget the desert. But he has no desire to return there.

In his chat with Lou, they look back, and they look ahead. They discuss shifts in community and networking, and how research agencies are being replaced by in-house research teams. Finally, the two discuss Steve’s role in the upcoming, in-person Advancing Research conference in Queens, New York.

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Managing Priorities with Harry Max

Harry Max is an executive coach, consultant, and hands-on product design and development leader. He’s also the author of the forthcoming Managing Priorities: How to Create Better Plans and Make Smarter Decisions.

For individuals, teams, and organizations, from managing things, people, places, rules, activities, and projects, Harry’s new book Managing Priorities gets to the heart of how we prioritize and make and implement decisions, whether one-off or events that happen on a regular basis.

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Taking Notes and Nurturing Your Knowledge Garden with Jorge Arango

Jorge Arango is an Information architect, author, and educator, and he’s written a new book, Duly Noted, about the age-old practice of notetaking.

If you bring value to the world through your thinking, you have the responsibility to look after your thinking apparatus. Duly Noted will augment, magnify, and extend your capacity to think well. Externalizing your mental processes is one of the most powerful means we have to think better. If used well, the humble note will help you be a better thinker and a more effective human.

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Creating a More Impactful Business While Still Feeling Like a Designer with Ellen Chisa

Have you ever felt like the product people want to move too fast? You realize that speed is important, but the quality of the product is going to suffer and the results are going to disappoint. Or have you ever wished you had a seat at the table during the initial strategy sessions of a new project, rather than being brought in mid-stream? Do you feel intimidated when talking to the folks on the business and finance side of your organization?

If so, this episode is for you. Ellen Chisa has a background in engineering and an MB. She is a founder, venture capitalist, and partner at boldstart ventures. In short, she has to care about the business side of things. But she also cares about user-oriented product design, and she wants the voices of those in the design space to be heard.

The best place to start, she asserts, might be by listening and learning. Ellen encourages designers to familiarize themselves with their organization’s business models and financials. If you’re feeling squirmy about that prospect, Ellen lays out a workable approach that will put both you and the business analyst at ease.

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The Beautiful Mess of Product Development with John Cutler

Today’s interview is just a taste of what you’ll learn at Rosenfeld’s upcoming Design in Product conference—featuring John Cutler’s closing keynote. John is the senior director of product management at Toast, a doodler, a former band member, a UX researcher, and business analyst. He’s also the prolific writer behind “The Beautiful Mess, a Substack newsletter with over 36,000 subscribers, where he writes about cross-functional product management—especially the messy parts.

As someone who likes “messy, creative endeavors” and building things with other people,  John enjoys unpacking the complicated parts of collaboration, getting to the heart of messes, and finding a way forward involves much more than identifying patterns.

John finds that each person’s frame or perspective is only one of many. This is one reason the relationship between product and design is a complicated ecosystem, and the whole system—not just a part—needs to evolve together.

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Pain and Curiosity Precede Successful Design Systems Change with Dan Mall

While we’ve been developing design systems for years, we’re only just now learning how to create systems that are successful and sustainable. Dan Mall is the author of the soon-to-be released Design That Scales: Creating a Sustainable Design System Practice, which explores the cultural elements that contribute to sustainable design systems.  

Not surprisingly, it’s usually pain that motivates change. In fact, companies occupying the number one spot in their respective markets usually have the least incentive  to change. As the saying goes, “Number two tries harder.” But even in the most-ready-for-change scenarios, design systems sit, at best, at a third level of priority. Dan asserts that the challenge is to approach design systems as a byproduct of the products and features that bring customers value. Otherwise, design systems will always be on the backburner. 

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Creating Insights through Analysis and Synthesis with Steve Portigal

Believe it or not, Steve Portigal’s UX research classic Interviewing Users came out ten years ago, back in 2013. A few things about user research have changed since then, to put it mildly, so we at Rosenfeld did two things: we convinced Steve to write a second edition (coming out October 17), and to join us on the Rosenfeld Review to discuss all the things that have changed.

In addition to being an author, Steve is a user researcher, consultant, and teacher. He helps companies grow their businesses, culture, and brands by interviewing users. He also helps companies build more mature in-house research practices.

Having been on both sides of the interviewing process – as both interviewer and interviewee – Steve can empathize with both roles. Over the last decade, he has seen user research evolve from a focus on consumer products to company culture and supportive technologies in the B2B space.

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Decentralizing Power through Design with Sahibzada Mayed and Lauren Lin

Sahibzada Mayed and Lauren Lin will be speakers at the upcoming DesignOps Summit on October 2-4, 2023. Their talk, “Cultivating Design Ecologies of Care, Community, and Collaboration,” will showcase the intersection of care-centeredness and design operations.

Lauren and Mayed’s partnership began with conversations and exploration about what they could do to shift power dynamics and create more cohesive and engaging designs for all. The biggest hindrance, say Lauren and Mayed, is power hierarchies. Design leaders need to critically think about social identities, institutional positions, and other complexities and dimensions. How power shows up in our practices is always shifting and changing, and decentralizing power has to be an ongoing and emergent process.

And it all starts with ideas and conversations.  Mayed and Lauren have found that speculative design is a powerful way to reflect on the “now” and dream about what the future could look like. All real-world shifts begin with ideas, relationships, and conversations. These elements are at the heart of design.

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A Proactive Approach to Inclusive Design with Zariah Cameron

Zariah Cameron is Co-Director of Community + Research and the founder of AEI – Advocate, Educate, Innovate Black Design. She will be a speaker at October’s DesignOps Summit on streamlining an inclusive design practice.

Many companies and corporations have good intentions when it comes to inclusive design. But too often that’s where things both start and stop. Zariah helps companies operationalize their inclusive design principles and ideals by looking at design from all angles and instilling effective processes.

When exploring ideals of equity and inclusivity, many confuse inclusivity with accessibility. Accessibility is a fine place to start, but it’s just the beginning. Accessibility tends to be passive while inclusivity is active. Inclusive design proactively seeks out the marginalized, the underserved, and minority groups. It doesn’t make assumptions but seeks input, feedback, and follow-through.

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Bringing Voices to the Table for DesignOps with Jay Bustamante

Jay Bustamante has always been about conserving time and resources by building tight processes to create efficiencies in his life and work. In all the jobs and positions he’s held, he would notice gaps, consult with stakeholders, find solutions, and fill those gaps. Eventually he learned there is a name for this type of work: DesignOps. Today Jay is a DesignOps leader and an experienced strategist at VMware. And he’ll be a speaker at the October 2023 DesignOps Summit.

When it comes to streamlining and building efficiencies, AI seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast. AI brings big expectations and can result in a lot of frustration if proper groundwork isn’t laid. DesignOps teams that proactively facilitate collaboration between engineers, business teams, end users, and other stakeholders can save time, money, and greatly increase the likelihood of a successful product that will reflect the company’s values.

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Jenae Cohn on Designing for Learning

Jenae Cohn is executive director at the Center for Teaching and Learning at UC Berkeley and, along with Michael Greer, author of the new book Design for Learning: User Experience in Online Teaching and LearningJenae and Michael’s book helps designers create compelling educational content. Think of it as required reading for anyone designing an online course, webinar, training, or workshop.

As designers get started on creating online instructional material, Jenae reminds them to be kind to themselves. After all, designing for learners is an iterative learning process. Also, it’s critical to create checkpoints and opportunities along the way to garner feedback. With the aid of Jenae and Michael’s book, we can depart from the days of dull online courses and make them truly vibrant spaces of growth.

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Boon Yew Chew on Systems Thinking as a Relational Tool

Boon Yew Chew is senior principal UX designer at Elsevier and an IxDA local leader and board alumn. He will be a speaker at the upcoming 2023 Enterprise UX Conference on June 6th and 7th, delivering a session on “Making Sense of Systems – and Using Systems to Make Sense of the Enterprise.”

Systems thinking can seem abstract and theoretical, but Boon reveals some unexpected ways that systems thinking can have a profound impact on individuals and relationships within organizations. Who knew that systems thinking could be an emotional intelligence tool?

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Donna Lichaw on Leadership Superpowers and Kryptonite

Not too long ago, Donna Lichaw, author of The User’s Journey, was helping companies solve product problems by organizing the experience of a product or service into a narrative arc where the user is the hero.

Then she ran into a question that she couldn’t shake — a question that, once answered, would morph her business from product development to leadership development. The question unveiled a people problem rather than a product problem.

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Ren Pope on Ontology in the Digital Age

Ren Pope has a passion for all things data, information, and knowledge, and he strives to make them more accessible, organized, and enduring. You may be surprised that this conversation about information architecture takes us back to classic Greek philosophy, specifically ontology, which is concerned with the nature of being—that is, what is real and not real.

What is inside a computer cannot be seen, yet it is real in the sense that it has value and can impact reality. And as a modern ontologist, Ren wants to make information accessible and useful. That often starts with assigning names to things—nouns and verbs to label the functions of an organization so that things can be indexed, searched, retrieved, crosslinked, and so that relationships can be defined through metadata.

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Erica Jorgensen on Tools and Techniques for Testing your Content

Erica Jorgensen is one of Rosenfeld Media’s newest authors with the publication of her book, Strategic Content Design: Tools and Research Techniques for Better UX. With a background in journalism, her book draws on her experiences as a content designer with the likes of Chewy, Microsoft, Slack, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Expedia.

Erica’s book is a toolkit of research techniques for anyone struggling to create content that makes an impact. Not all companies have dedicated research budgets or teams, yet research can save us from redos and yield more targeted, effective content.

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Lisanne Norman on Why She Left UX Research

Lisanne Norman entered the tech field as a UX researcher in 2015 and quickly advanced to lead researcher at Dell, then Visa. She founded Black UX Austin and was the UX lead researcher at Gusto.

And then she left in 2022. Because she had had enough. And because she wanted to make a difference.

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Insights and Interventions with Jill Fruchter

Jill has been listening to customers and clients for over 20 years. She has worked for organizations like Etsy and Blue Apron, and has since started Field Notes Consulting, a research and strategic planning practice serving both public and private sectors. She is method-agnostic, harnesses full-stack research, and interrogates all data to get to the real data or the root cause.

While hard data and numbers are important, data alone does not equal insight. Making sense of the data often requires listening to customers, human-scale frameworks of things like journeys and experience mapping, and, of course, minimizing researchers’ biases. It’s often the outside-in perspective that brings it all together to give us insight that will highlight consequences and implications.

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Prayag Narula on AI’s Role in Qualitative Research

Prayag Narula is the founder and CEO of Marvin, a tool for qualitative researchers. Prayag will also be a speaker at the Advancing Research Conference where he’ll share the stage with Rida Qadri, a research scientist at Google.

Humans have been doing quantitative research for thousands of years – well, for as long as math has been around. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is fairly new to human history, emerging only in the 20th Century. And qualitative research has taken a backseat to what Prayag calls “the tyranny of math,” the prevailing attitude that if research is not math-based, it’s not valid. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of qualitative data. Decisions at all levels are made based on qualitative data every day.

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Sheryl Cababa on Systems Thinking for Designers

Sheryl is the author of the soon-to-be-released Closing the Loop: Systems Thinking for Designers.

With a background in journalism and political science, and having worked at or with Adaptive Path, Substantial, Frog, Ikea, Microsoft, and the Gates Foundation, Sheryl has an interest in the big picture of systems thinking and how it applies to designers.

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Deliberate Intervention: Using Policy and Design to Navigate the Harms of New Technology

Lou sits down with Alex Schmidt, author of our new title Deliberate Intervention: Using Policy and Design to Navigate the Harms of New Technology. Together, they give us a rundown of the many harms modern technology has brought to society and how designers are attempting to work with policymakers to tackle these issues. Lou and Alex also discuss proactive approaches teams can take to counteract those harms and biases that often arise as technology companies grow and how bringing design and policy closer together in this field could benefit everyone long term.

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How Product Management and UX Can Work Together with Rich Mironov

Lou has Rich Mironov, CEO of Mironov Consulting, as his guest. Rich runs a blog and has been writing for over 20 years about business and the psychology that goes into product management. Together, they discuss ways that Product Management and UX can work more fluidly together. They dive into how you can bring your team together so everyone is working on the same page. Rich brings some nuggets of advice he has collected over his many years in the industry and touches on the talk he will be giving at Rosenfeld Media’s Design in Product Conference.

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Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World

Authors Maria Giudice & Christopher Ireland join Lou to discuss their new book, Changemakers: How Leaders Can Design Change in an Insanely Complex World, which comes out on January 17, 2023.

Get a taste of what they cover in the book, from systems thinking to navigating change, and how to look broadly at patterns to understand the context in which you are establishing change. The authors explain the wide range of industries they drew from in their research and interviews, as well as the highly emotional aspect of changemaking in society today. Bonus: they share some tools you can use to become a changemaker.

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Moving from Execution to Strategy as a Designer with Catt Small

Lou sits down with Catt Small, Director of Product Design at All Turtles, who will be speaking at the Design in Product Conference on December 6, 2022. They discuss how designers and product managers can learn each other’s lingo and build relationships that will make both their jobs easier. Together, they sort through different workplace scenarios that new and more seasoned designers can encounter and Catt dispenses wisdom she has picked up throughout her career.

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Design in the Public Sector with Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director of the Public Policy Lab

Lou sits down with co-founder and executive director of the Public Policy Lab, Chelsea Mauldin. She gives us a preview of the talk she will be giving at the upcoming Civic Design Conference, Nov. 16 – 18th. They dive deeper into the intersection of design in the public sector and how that can look when dealing with all levels of government policy. Chelsea briefs Lou on how her nonprofit partners with government personnel to develop policy, and how the civic design community is growing today. She also discusses the different struggles her nonprofit faces versus those in the private sector.

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UX Design to Career Coaching with Whitney Hess

Lou talks with Whitney Hess as she discusses her vast career in UX design and transition into coaching. She breaks down the different methodologies and philosophies she utilizes with each client and how she embodies her work beyond her coaching. Together, Whitney and Lou discuss the different risks and leaps of faith she has had to take during her career and how that ultimately led her to be a more effective coach.

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Design in Product — Conference Curator Christian Crumlish

Lou sits down with Christian Crumlish, a product and UX leadership consultant at Design in Product, where he also hosts a product/UX community. Together they discuss the challenges that Design and Product traditionally have faced. They explore the intersection of these two functions and the need for a long overdue conversation: how Design and Product can be better partners. Christian is named as the curator of the newly announced Design in Product conference, hosted by Rosenfeld Media on December 6, 2022. They go on to discuss how this event will help designers and researchers better understand the challenges that product people face in order to improve their working relationship.

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ADHD: A DesignOps Superpower

Lou sits down with Atlassian’s Design Enablement Coordinator, Jess Norris, to discuss her talk on ADHD that she’ll be presenting at this year’s Design Ops Summit. After being diagnosed with ADHD a little over a year ago, Jessica went on a journey to discover the secret superpowers that lie within everyone with a neurodivergent brain. She now urges managers to use these perspectives that team members may bring to the table to enhance their design ops work.

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From Solo to Scaled: Building a Sustainable Content Strategy Practice

Natalie Marie Dunbar joins Lou to discuss the lonely pursuit that is content strategy. She also digs into what it means to build a content strategy practice—whether you’re just starting out as a solo practitioner, scaling up in a large organization, or trying to make a case for your CS practice’s value. Her new Rosenfeld Media book, From Solo to Scaled: Building a Sustainable Content Strategy Practice, serves as a “companion” to address this loneliness as much as it is a guide to the resources needed to create a sustainable content practice.

This episode offers a preview of what Natalie calls the Content Strategy Practice Blueprint. There are five components to that blueprint, including making the business case, building strong relationships, creating frameworks and tools, and establishing meaningful measures of success.

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Standardizing Design with Candace Myers

When it comes to design operations, it can be challenging to find the best method to provide the creative team with the tools they need that will eliminate some of their more mundane tasks to allow them more time to focus on their ideas and innovative work. Lou talks with Candace Myers, design operations leader with Netflix StudiosXD, about how she integrates technology and practices to optimize her efficiency in the creative and design fields. Candace will be speaking at the DesignOps Summit 2022 virtual conference, September 8-9.

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Women Talk Design with Danielle Barnes

Creating and maintaining an inclusive environment that makes anyone feel welcome requires conscious and consistent effort. Whether it’s presentation, operation, or curation—incorporating your team’s voices in a healthy and organic manner as a business practice requires thinking outside the box.

In this episode of the Rosenfeld Review, you’ll hear from Danielle Barnes, CEO of Women Talk Design, as she and Lou discuss the fundamentals of designing meetings and conference presentations that are more inclusive.

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Connecting the Ops with Jon Fukuda

Ahead of the 2022 DesignOps Summit, Lou speaks with guest Jon Fukuda, a co-founder of Limina where for 18 years he has been delivering UX and technical design to his clients. His focus is on facilitating the implementation of scalable research and design operations. Lou and John discuss the concept of digital transformation and explore what it looks like to walk a client through the difficult terrain of operationalizing their design processes, how to have those difficult conversations surrounding company culture, taking the lead as a change agent, and more.

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The Enterprise Elephant: A Chat with Milan Guenther

The fable of The Blind Man and the Elephant is a favorite here at Rosenfeld Media. But how does that apply to enterprise design? Lou sits down with Milan Guenther, co-founder of EDA (Enterprise Design Associates) and the creator of the Intersection Conference (2017.intersectionconf.com) to talk about how this fable has influenced their views on enterprise design – and how its influencing the future of UX.

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