Nordic Design

Design, Music and Life, by Alex Lillo

3 rules of crisis management

High on my list of designers’ sins, probably next to “good design sells itself”, is the lack of ability to reflect on your own acts and accept when you have fucked it up.

As professionals (you get paid for your work right? Then you’re a professional) we have to accept responsibilities for what we do. Be humble, do some soul searching, analyse the situation, understand your client and look for your own faults. Never get defensive, nor blame others. And definitely never get angry, that’s not going to take you anywhere positive.

And if it happens that you’ve made a mistake that’s fine. We all do mistakes, it’s how you manage them.

Here’s a simple recipe of what to do in case you (or your team, or somebody you’re responsible for) have fucked it up:

  • Tell your client that you’ve fucked it up
  • Tell her how bad it is, and why that happened
  • Tell her how you’re going to solve it
  • Move on

I read this on Helio Fred Garcia’s book The Power of Communication (brilliant book, you should read it), and it works. Also make sure that you control the timing of the crisis. You want to be the person calling saying we need to talk. You don’t want it to get so big that the client needs to call you wondering what the heck you’re doing with their budget.

Remember, design solves business problems, otherwise it’s art. Somebody, somewhere, has trusted her budget on you, to solve a business problem. And when things go wrong, you’re playing with that persons’ budget, and potentially her career.

So before blaming others about how they don’t understand your brilliant design, do some soul searching, maybe you’re also partly to blame (hint: you normally are).

It’s sad to see you going, Mixture

Final announcement from Mixture

I had Mixture on my radar for a long time, but it was only until last year that I started using it. It’s been a really useful tool as interaction designers tend to be scared of the command line. Its GUI made it easier for a few colleagues in the office to start using preprocessors, templating languages and even JSON.

It’s very sad to see it disappear, and I only hope somebody else will create a similar tool in the future.


Bye bye Foursquare, or how to save battery on your phone

Battery usage on a Nexus 4I’m not sure if this is a Nexus 4 issue, or happens to every Android device. But from time to time mine decides to stay awake, even if I’m doing nothing with it. Stopping Foursquare put the phone on sleep mode again, so if you have this issue try it, it may help.

I know of a bug on the Mail app that makes the phone stay awake whilst on the train. I suppose that as it looses and regains signal, the app enters in some kind of infinite loop trying to check the network and download mail. It means that unless I kill the app, every time I go see a client my phone is dead in an hour.

Some Fridays ago I was having some drinks with my Webcredible colleagues. Battery was doing fine, and I hoped to have some left to listen to music on my train back home. Then we moved into a pub, I checked-in on Foursquare and… zas, my phone turned into a heat emitting device capable of frying a steak. Battery was dead a few minutes later, something my wife didn’t appreciate.

So when my phone got into hot pan mode a few days ago, I decided to investigate a bit. As you can see on the screenshot, there was a drastic use of energy going home (1). That’s normal, as I was using Spotify and checking some news. Problem is, I got home, stopped using my phone at all, but it was still quickly draining the battery.

A quick charge later, battery was still draining at a ridiculous rate, so we checked what was running in the background. Foursquare was there pretty high on the list, even if I don’t use it at all. So I killed the app (actually uninstalled it), and as you can see (2) my phone went into sleep mode again. That’s probably what happened that Friday night, Foursquare kept running in the background in some kind of infinite loop.

I’m sure there are other apps that do exactly the same, so if you have this issue and don’t use Foursquare, simple go to Settings > Battery, check what’s using it and kill it. Quite likely that is some app checking your location or trying to sync information.

Air traffic visualisation

The guys at NATS (UK’s traffic control provider) have created a beautiful video showing what happens in the UK airspace in 24 hours.

Airspace navigation and traffic control is a fascinating topic, something that very few are aware of, but that keeps all the planes flying securely and on time(ish).

Via Microsiervos (in Spanish)

On swarms and squares

If you’re one of those that like to check-in at every place you go, you’ll know that now foursquare has a dedicated checkin app, Swarm. The old app is now all about exploring the city.

As every time a popular service changes, the Internet has gone nuts. People has started to publicly state that they are about to stop using it. Like if anybody cared.

Why so sad?

Apparently they don’t like the product decisions at Foursquare. I suppose that’s fine if you work for them or own shares on the company. I can see a shift this size affecting the app usage. But for a mere mortal like me, well we’re just a merchandise for them to trade.

Personally, I don’t care about them splitting their functionality in two. Actually, I’ve always found the recommendations side of the app pretty useless, so that angle won’t be missed from Swarm (if I’m looking for a nice restaurant nearby, one that’s 9km away from me is not helpful, thanks).

And I quite like the way they’re transitioning from one app to two. I’ve found the process quite smooth, even if Swarm is quite different from Foursquare. So I’m enjoying the transformation (and taking screenshots of it, you never know if a client will need something similar in the future).

Ultimately, people don’t hate change, they just hate when you change things for the sake of changing. Maybe the new Foursquare will be so amazeballs that everybody will agree that the move was genius. Maybe the app will fade, become irrelevant and be sold/close, like gowalla, who knows. But in the end, it’s Foursquare’s decision. Disagree if you want but, why so emotionally?

Extra ball

That guy complaining about the horror that is their forced Swarm app install, works for Facebook. A company that forced users to install their Messenger app if you wanted to keep chatting with your friends. But probably that was ok. </irony>

2nd Battle of St Albans re-enactment

Living in the British countryside it’s easy to find little fairs and celebrations about all sorts of things. Last week the Medieval Siege Society remembered the 2nd Battle of St Albans, so it was the perfect opportunity to take my camera out and photograph something different than my daughter.

medieval lady

The battle took place on Bernards Heath in 1461, as part of the Wars of the Roses. More info about it on the wikipedia.

It's a hard life

Apparently the First Battle of St Albans (1455) marks the beginning of the Wars of the Roses. So if I they ask me that type of questions when I request the nationality, hopefully I’ll get this one right!

A few more photos on my Flickr set.

It’s not me, it’s you Feedburner

I still use feedburner to serve my blog’s feed, but given that Google stopped supporting it like 2 years ago, it’s time to move on. I will delete the feedburner feed soon, so please update whatever you use to read me to the new url:

BTW, you probably already use it but I recommend Feedly, a great free feed reader.

Fun at the races

Sometimes what happens around Formula 1 is more interesting that the actual races. In case you haven’t followed last week’s Indian GP, there was a heated incident in the Lotus team. This happened later:

We bumped into Eric Boullier at the airport and could not stop ourselves saying: “Get out of the f@*king way!”, which raised a resigned smile from the Lotus team principal.

Via the always interesting Joe Saward.

On leadership and responsibility

I found this quote from a war veteran on the Art of Manliness blog. Many businesspeople should print it in big letters and read it every day of their life. Maybe some will reject the greediness of the corporate world and start behaving like decent people.

“I still own my responsibility in the failure to bring him home. It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility. I was the leader and there was only one person to look to, when you, for everything that your men do or fail to do, and that’s the leader…That’s the right mentality to have, even though you may err on the side of carrying too much weight. Particularly as I’ve seen leadership as applied in, well, at least in my context in the business world, I think that the Marines get it right, and they got it right by teaching me from the get-go that hey, it is your job as a leader to accept responsibility, that’s what you do, particularly to accept responsibility for failure. And when you’re given these forty young men, we’re going to tell you your life is no longer about yourself, it’s about taking care of them and achieving your mission. That’s a, I realize now that that’s a rare philosophy, and that’s a rare leadership model. We say that life is not about you anymore. The minute you pin on the rank, and the minute you accept that paycheck, you accept responsibility and you accept a commitment to something greater than yourself. And I think that applies just as much now as it did then.”

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