Kevin M. Hoffman, founder of Seven Heads Design and author of Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone, will present his keynote, “Meetings Are a Design Problem,” at edUi 2017. We wanted to get to know him better, so we asked him a few questions. Here is what he had to say:
How did you first get started in information design and design strategy?
I started building websites in 1994. I didn’t really think of it as part of a larger system of information and human behaviors (in which you might apply strategy) until the early 2000s, when I was teaching design and managing properties in higher education. It’s easy to forget that the web is not really “the thing,” especially when always there’s so many new skills to learn about how the web works. For me, “the thing” is this: how does the web solve a problem? How does it help people improve themselves, or find answers, or have fun? I’m more excited by creating outcomes than by mastering craft, although I think the two are inseparable. It’s important to do both, but I lean towards the former.
If your professional life was a movie title, what would it be?
That’s a fun question; I’ll go with existing movies. The Accidental Tourist, or The Curious Case of Kevin M. Hoffman.
In only three words or phrases, what is your worst UX story?
“Not that Kevin.” Not to be confused with “not that, Kevin,” which is a whole different story.
What’s your favorite Pandora or Spotify station?
I don’t really use stations, to be honest—I prefer listening to full albums. Also, we use Spotify most of the time to play my son’s favorite songs in the car, which wreaks havoc on any recommendation algorithms that Spotify valiantly tries to apply to me via a station.
If you could design any app, what would it be?
Boardthing! I’m the CEO, and that’s the app I would design, and will continue to design. It’s digital whiteboard space, and the user experience is very intentionally ambiguous and minimal. It’s also a part-time passion project between three really smart, really amazing colleagues and myself. We don’t have grand plans; but we deliberately chose a price point to make it accessible to anyone, and to create and sustain a community, not grow profits and sell the company.
What are you going to talk about at edUi?
Meetings in your organization are a design challenge, just like a website, app, or brand. How do you treat them like a design problem?
What’s the biggest misconception about meeting design?
Portability of tactics. Each meeting you have is a one-time human experience; a singular combination of assumptions, behaviors, goals, and tools. You can never recreate a successful past workshop exactly with a new team or client…ever. But you can learn what worked well, and then understand what will work in the future by applying what you learn. Don’t think, “just give me the tools to run meetings better,” although tools are helpful gateways to understanding. Instead, ask yourself how you can become more present and effective in the meetings you have by examining them, critiquing them, and iterating on them.
About Kevin M. Hoffman
Kevin M. Hoffman connects people, ideas, and solutions in order solve our industry’s pressing design challenges. Knowing that successful projects require facilitated collaboration, Kevin founded and leads Seven Heads Design, a network of digital design leaders who collaborate frequently on major projects. Trusted by major brands, including Zappos, Nintendo, Walmart, and MTV, Kevin’s roles as product lead, information architect, and design strategist give him a unique perspective on how people interact during projects. His first book—Meeting Design for Managers, Makers, and Everyone—will be published by Rosenfeld Media in 2017, and focuses on improving meetings through design thinking.
Kevin will present the keynote, “Meetings Are a Design Problem,” at edUi 2017.