Becoming Better Experience Leaders

Watch all the talks and panels from 2017’s Leading Experience Conference

Rahshia Sawyer
One Design Community
5 min readJun 1, 2017


Once a year, those who are obsessed with customer experiences make their way to San Francisco to learn from another, inspire each other, and renew their passion for experience design at LX. The single track + workshops conference has officially graduated from MX Managing Experience to LX Leading Experience, and for it’s inaugural year LX 2017 DELIVERED!

As our practice evolves so must we, so get ready to level-up to Leader.

We each have our own unique characteristics—that special something that allows us to do what we do. Whether you’re humble, adaptive, positive, decisive, a visionary, or empathetic—your team needs you, your company needs you, and the world needs you — to be you.

Instinctually we know what we’re looking for isn’t going to be found in books or boardrooms; however, it will be found within our relationships, connections and willingness to learn from those who have been there and are bold enough to share their wisdom.

LX 2017: Designing Better Futures, Lisa Kay Solomon

Push pause on your day-to-day and learn from the trail blazers, starting with how to become a rebel WITH a cause. Now, most of us are already rebels … but have we defined our causes? Without a cause we’re not much more than, well … James Dean. Iconic — yes, but a visionary — no.

LX 2017: The Story of Leading Experience: In Four Parts, Christina Wodtke

Have you ever considered that you’re overflowing with knowledge? I sure as heck didn’t ... I was looking for more! Right off the bat Christina Wodtke set us straight by informing us that we were TOO DAMN FULL. Filled with all the things we know and what we want to know. And yes, fellow leaders, it is time to empty our cups.

LX 2017: Get Cubed, Miles Orkin

How can we excel as experience design leaders? I know I don’t jump out of bed to go to my job only to hit the rewind, and I’ll hazard a guess that you don’t either. So why does it feel that way at times? Miles Orkin challenges us to examination problems from all sides and think expansively—pushing us to broaden our perspectives.

LX 2017: Design for Growth, Angel Steger

THIS TIME it’s going to be awesome, you’ve probably thought to yourself at the start of a project. And when a release date approaches, you have the that conversation, you know, the one about what will be IN, and what will be OUT. And somehow you don’t feel as cool as Heidi Klum. Because, you know, it isn’t about the quick wins that will make a product thrive, as it is about an engaged ecosystem. Angel Steger articulates that growth is about connecting users to value — which is different than getting them in the front door.

LX 2017: Deliver the Value of Design at Scale, John Devanney

As a fellow time traveler you know that design is a time machine—we designers have built the future. We are the ones that allow ourselves to go to that place, were things magically works everywhere. We can see, smell, and taste the future and it boggles our minds that others can’t close their eyes experience it with us. John Devanney illustrated that as companies grow around us and invite us to the table, we need to be ready to deliver design at scale.

LX 2017: Bringing Diversity into Design, Eric Hellweg, Janaki Kumar, Emi Kolawole

As leaders we know that an important part of our job is to allow the quietest voice in the group be heard. That ideas come from everyone, yet with the mountains of data pointing to diversity … why isn’t there more of it in tech? In a moderated panel discussion the topic of diversity was put in the spotlight.

LX 2017: WeWorks’s Polaris: A System for Deciding What to Work on, Tomer Sharon

Research is powerful, it removes our opinions from the equation, giving a voice to our customers. And yet, how many times have you felt like you were doing the SAME research over and over? What if there was a way to create a playlist of insights? a playlist that could be updated with current nuggets of insight? Allowing the terabytes of research data to used across projects … It’s here and it’s called Polaris!

LX 2017: UX Leadership: The Lesson No One Told You, Catherine Courage

Catherine Courage evangelizes that, “As leaders we need to inspire and ignite a new way of thinking about factors that contribute to exceptional design and develop strategies for achieving this great goal…and most of them have nothing to do with design itself!” But if it doesn’t have to do with design, what does it have to do with?

LX 2017: The Human Blueprint, Julia Whitney

There isn’t a singular formula for building a design team, let alone keeping a team inspired, creative, and killing it. What if the systemic issue we face isn’t finding the right balance of people—what if it’s change? We work in an ever-changing field, be from internal or external factors, we deal with change every damn day. Julia Whitney ask us, “What part of us, as humans, does change trigger? Is it our sense of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, or fairness?”

LX 2017: The Experience is the Product, Peter Merholz

Experience is the key to product success, Peter Merholz informed us. We know this, as we’ve worn out shoes paving the way. What we may have missed along the way is that user experience exists because of poor product management. Yeah, you read that right. UX is the practice that investigates user needs, and amplifies that to the company. We’re about bridging the gap between human needs and features — aka, the differentiator.

LX 2017: Sense & Respond, Josh Seiden

Do you know what at FINSTA is? It’s a private (fake) instagram account, where you can freely post and not be judged by society, jobs, and any other group you care about. This is one example of how digital technology is changing everything about business today. The things we’re building gives organizations the ability to have a continuous two-way conversation with their customers and employees in every touchpoint.

LX 2017: It’s a beautiful Day, Isn’t it? Tao Porchon-Lynch

As the conference came to a close, our cups were over flowing with new insights, a renewed passion for experience, and new friends. We were inspired and ready to charge back to our respective companies to apply all we learned, yet there was one conversation left, and it was the one that had me teary-eyed with inspiration. And it started with a simple question — It’s a beautiful day, isn't it? No really I am stating that… TODAY is a beautiful day, isn’t it?



Rahshia Sawyer
One Design Community

Rahshia Sawyer is a creative professional and third-culture individual based in the Washington DC area.