Key things I learnt from DiBi London 2016

This was quite possibly the most inspiring conference I’ve been to yet. Quite an opening statement I know. But after just one day of the conference I came away electrified with ideas, inspiration and motivation, more so than any other conference I’ve been to (and there have been a fair few!).

The speakers were so different, and from lots of various areas of specialities. They were all talking about incredible subjects and gave great presentations. I could talk forever about some of the things I heard and learnt from DiBi but I got some really important takeaways from these talks that I’ll outline.

You can see the full line-up here.

1. Be a jack of all trades and master of some

Listening to Tobias talk he clearly has a wide range of skills that he has mastered over the years which I imagine have aided his career. However listening to him talk, I got the feeling that alot of the side projects he has managed to get off the ground and some even monetised, are due to having this wide range of skills. He had the initial idea, then designed and built some of the prototypes and final work himself as well as looping in others as and when he needed. But being a good ideator, having skills in UX, design and development allowed him to be quite versatile in getting his projects off the ground. He was able to stay with projects alot longer before having to loop people in.

2. Don’t have 1 side project have 10, but “keep them simple stupid”

Another point raised in Tobias’ talk was that he tends to have many side projects to avoid procrastination. The fewer side projects one has the more likely you are to procrastinate onto another rather than having 1/2/3 and straying to netflix and eventually your side project gets nowhere. We’ve all done it, I’m guilty! The trick is to “keep them simple stupid”, this will keep you engaged and passionate about them. A great example is the Authentic Weather app by Tobias. He just wanted to make an app that was honest about the weather without the wind speed etc he just “wanted to know if it was f***ing raining”.

3. Stay busy

Staying busy is a great way to keep engaged in work. The busier you are, the more you learn and become more passionate, and are procastinating less! Keeping busy allows you to learn and develop your skill set, becoming a jack of all trades and master of some.

4. Humanise your mission

Make sure your project has a human element to it, make sure the entire project team know who you are designing for. This will solidify rationale when conveying this to stakeholders. This will aid getting buy-in from everyone. The more you believe in your’s and the team’s decisions, the better the conviction and delivery of the mission will be. We don’t want a tragedy of the commons type scenario!

5. Share UX more

Sharing UX more with the team can aid in projects, making everyone aware of who your users are — researching is a team sport! The more the team know about the users, no matter who they are in that team, the users should always be at the head of the project. This can lead to more collaboration bringing the team closer together and buying into decisions more. The GDS team had “show and tells” every week to talk about what part of the project they were working on and shared it with the team who were working a different part of the project. This made the team aware of what was going on and also got them collaborating. They also had project milestone stickers (any PMs/AMs reading this, these are an awesome idea!)

6. Play in the same field as one another

“Playing in the same field”. I know, it sounds weird. But this metaphor is so powerful, ensuring that your team are all in the same ‘field’, are heading in the right direction, understand the project and who it’s for is key. One person outside that field (for whatever reason, confusion or disagreements etc) makes the rest of the team need to work harder, increasing effort.

7. Trust is key

Building and empowering trust in a team is the foundation of team dynamics. If your team can’t trust each other, then team dynamics (and projects) start to become more difficult. Be open and honest with each other, don’t hide behind work, projects, bureaucracy or emails — honesty and openness will build and solidify trust in teams.

I took away so many things from this event that I could go on forever. But these are really what hit me hard from the talks. I filled pages and pages of a note book but these are the things that I put stars next to and a million inked circles around. I hope you find them as useful as I did. I really recommend that you check this event out, I came back a different designer.

I’m happy to talk through more of these points with anyone or just about the event itself! Email me at, connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter if you’d like to keep in touch.

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