Pre-conference workshop

IAI Presents: Becoming a leader - from IA to business and beyond

Christopher Fahey, Margaret Hanley, Harry Max, Karen McGrane, Josh Rubin, Jorge Arango

Information Architecture is maturing as a profession, and IAs are increasingly being called on to leadership positions within their organizations. This seminar will be a daylong workshop that will explore the relationship between Information Architecture and Leadership.

We will examine this relationship from two perspectives:
  • How IAs can become effective leaders in their organizations (and in society as a whole).
  • How IA skills and processes can make managers and organizations—of any type— more effective.

Participants will leave the workshop with thoughts, tools, tips & tricks to help prepare them for positions of leadership, in their organizations and in society.

The structure of the workshop will be highly interactive, encouraging participants to learn from each other as well as the seminar leaders. The workshop is intended for those already familiar with and experienced in IA. Attendance will be limited to 45 participants; early registration is suggested.

The workshop will consist of four sessions:

The Courage to Lead


Christopher Fahey

Most of the working designer’s day-to-day professional practice comes down to solving problems: A problem is presented, and the designer devises a solution.

But the design leader’s job is different. Whether working for an organization or for clients—or running their own company—the leader’s role is to create new processes, to define new services, and to introduce new products. The leader doesn’t wait to be told what a problem is. The leader is required and entrusted to have the courage and confidence to define what the problem is in the first place.

What’s more, the ability to see opportunities where others may not is a leadership skill especially suited to designers. Christopher will describe some of the ways in which he and other design leaders have transitioned from practice to leadership by taking on the responsibility to define problems and identify opportunities for their organizations and businesses, and to do this by specifically drawing on their existing design experience and expertise.

Teams that lead


Margaret Hanley

One of our challenges as UX managers is to enable our teams to lead in their profession. We want to be able to provide them with the environment to go and develop the best products, services and experiences. Mags Hanley using her experience in both successful and unsuccessful teams, will take you through the elements for developing “teams that lead”.

In her session, she will cover:
  • The role of charismatic leaders.
  • The types of projects that provide the environment for team leadership.
  • The factors that support ingenuity and development of great design.
  • How great projects provide status for the team, internally and externally.

Strategy Matters


Harry Max

From every level in the organization, what’s above you can look strategic and what’s below you tends to look like tactics. Stepping up to a new level demands sensitivity to and understanding of the important differences between them. Drawing on his experiences as an information architect, customer experience designer, executive and leadership coach Harry Max will decode how to play to stay in the game.

In his discussion, Harry will answer key questions such as:
  • What is strategy, really... ?
  • When does strategy matter?
  • What does strategy look like when it’s happening?
  • How do you Do strategy? (hint: It’s just like design)
  • What tools to IA’s and UX folks have at their disposal?

The Users That Use You


Karen McGrane and Josh Rubin

Donald Norman once addressed the challenge designers face in making an impact within their organizations, stating: Designers uniformly complain that they are ignored, that they are called in too late, and that people complain their suggestions will cost too much money or slow down product development. It seems that designers are not applying their own methods to these problems – you need to step back to see what the root causes are. If designers are complaining that they are ignored, well, maybe there’s a reason why.

In this talk, Josh Rubin and Karen McGrane will extend familiar user-centered design approaches to help information architects become leaders within their organizations and achieve greater decision-making authority. Drawing on their experience working inhouse at Motorola and as consultants at Razorfish and at their own firm, Bond Art and Science, Karen and Josh will share techniques and perspectives appropriate for IAs in a variety of organizations.

In this session, they will cover:
  • Thinking about clients, bosses, or co-workers as “users” of your services.
  • Tailoring your approach and recommendations to achieve change.
  • Setting realistic expectations for how long it takes to change organizations.
  • Identifying situations that are not likely to be successful—and what to do about it.

Workshop sponsored by the Information Architecture Institute

CrowdVine network

Discussions about this years conference are still ongoing on our CrowdVine community site.