From A Communications Primer by Charles and Ray Eames

A new stop on the road to better collaboration

My journey with Abstract began one year ago this month — first as a member of the board, and then in my current role as CEO. If time has taught me anything, it’s that a year is both a considerable milestone and feels like no time at all, or at least that’s been my experience so far.

AN EDUCATION IN COLLABORATION

During my years at GitHub and Slack, we thought about these dynamics frequently and built products to help people from different disciplines and functions actually work together. These experiences also afforded me a number of lessons personally.

  • A link for everything — making it easy to track the latest project updates and decisions
  • A living archive of past decisions — allowing team members, old and new, to understand the wider context and scope of a project or task
  • Integrations with a wide variety of functional tools and services — to automate the work around the work
  • Permission to be human — because people need to feel empowered to bring creativity to their work and take pride in their craft

LOOKING FOR NEW PATTERNS

During my first several months as CEO at Abstract I spoke with dozens of design teams and design leaders. A set of key themes emerged from these conversations (all of which were echoed in our State of Design in 2021 report):

  • There’s a shift from outputs to outcomes — businesses expect design to be about more than pixels and aesthetics
  • The impact of design work is recognized, but it’s incredibly hard to measure — everyone wants to point to real impact, but how?

INCREASING DESIGN’S IMPACT

Design played a critical role in the successes of GitHub and Slack because it was seen as a strategic asset. Very few companies see design solely as a service function anymore, but many still don’t know how to get what they need from their design teams. I believe part of the answer lies in creating better tools to facilitate how design teams work. When designers are equipped with more intelligent platforms for collaboration, especially ones that complement the tools they already use for screen design, more businesses will benefit from everything design has to offer.

  • Good product design is inclusive — involving designers, engineers, and product managers at all stages of the process
  • Like other teams responsible for mission-critical work, designers should be able to clearly point to their business impact

now: CEO @abstract | then: marketing VP @SlackHQ, @github & more | | finding the bright places where boom bands are playing

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