A conversation about being an internal advocate with Barbara Barry, Ph.D., Design Strategist, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation and Assistant Professor in the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. She is also the Keynote for upcoming SDN Midwest Conference
“I like to ask people why they want to solve a problem or why they want to help the ultimate beneficiaries of the work. Meaningful connections to the work is the fuel the keeps momentum and strengthens ties between collaborators.” —Barbara Barry
Interview by Twisha Shah-Brandenburg and Thomas Brandenburg, a collaboration with 5by5.blog
Can you share with us your perspective on the dynamics of trust and decision making, (power) in the design process when working with stakeholders?
It’s worth thinking deliberately about what kind of power exists on a team or in a project, and when that power should be harnessed to accomplish the collective goals. If power is too concentrated in one person or a single decision-point it’s a big risk for the project.
Being an internal champion how do you build momentum and create meaningful connections?
I like to ask people why they want to solve a problem or why they want to help the ultimate beneficiaries of the work. Meaningful connections to the work is the fuel the keeps momentum and strengthens ties between collaborators.
“In design, we can obsess about the barriers and biases of stakeholders, which can prime us to consider them impediments to design. Not good. Let’s have more empathy for stakeholders!” —Barbara Barry
What are the barriers or biases that stakeholders have that you have seen show up across an organization(s)?
In design, we can obsess about the barriers and biases of stakeholders, which can prime us to consider them impediments to design. Not good. Let’s have more empathy for stakeholders! I’ve had intriguing conversations with members of our design team recently about how our own entrenched thinking and biases can get in the way of our design practice, and how we might break out of our own limiting perspectives.
What are the easiest and hardest parts of collaborating and co-creating inside a large organization?
Being in an embedded design group is a big win. We have extraordinary access to participants—patients, providers, caregivers—who generously share their experiences and ideas with us. The hardest part: patience and fortitude working in a big, tangled, complex, and regulated sector.
What advice do you have for a young professional entering the field?
Create new design methods that can help us understand people even better than we do now, embrace data literacy, and cultivate a practice of giving back to your design community.
What is your best ninja skill?
Recently, I had a bout of seasonal allergy induced laryngitis that lasted for two weeks. I’ve been playing around with the idea of silence as a ninja skill. People who know me would likely laugh out loud at that prospect, so we’ll see how it goes…