Why we highly appreciate our lunch lectures

Since the early days of Hike One, we’ve always shared our knowledge and insights both internally and externally. We value this and do our best to honour our philosophy.

Not only by talking to audiences at universities, attending conferences and publishing stories online, but also by giving lunch lectures at our offices. Every Thursday around lunchtime, one of us takes the time to give a lecture on a work related subject in an accessible way. Everyone joins in, sandwich and juice in hand or right after finishing lunch.

Interaction Designer Imke Höhler getting ready to talk about context mapping

Why we do it
As a big team of visual and interaction designers, our fields of work are closely connected. However, each designer has his specialties and sometimes a personal discovery can benefit everyone. That’s where lunch lectures come in: a topic which may be unfamiliar territory for some is discussed and helps us to widen our horizon. We share our learnings, show each other what we’re working on, and practice the art of presentation.

Bart Janse shares his insights on algorithms

How it works
On our intranet, anyone can volunteer to host a lunch lecture. And normally, there’s one lunch lecture every week. Of course, it all sounds wonderful in theory, but in practice many people need some encouragement. Luckily, everyone can decide a topic for themselves: a new design tool, a great new book or just common obstacles we face in the everyday work — and how to overcome them. The host of the lunch lecture prepares by creating a presentation and while 48 of our 53 colleagues are native Dutch speakers, we generally choose to have the lunch lecture in English only. It’s easier for our non-Dutch designers and we don’t mind adapting.

Eat, laugh, listen
In our comfortable kitchen, we gather around the host and listen to his or her inspiring talk. Afterwards, we try to engage in dialogue and welcome all input. Over the last few years, countless topics have been discussed. Martijn talked us through the book Getting things done by David Allen, Roderick taught us how to create SVG’s that would make our developers smile, Myrthe gave away early on what Google Glass was all about and Sebastian explained how he managed to obtain our passwords through phishing. And that’s just a few of dozens of lunch lectures.

Sebastian received passwords of nine colleagues through phishing and told us how he did it

Variety is great
Since we’re working closely together with front-end development team De Voorhoede, we regularly invite them to participate in lunch lectures and tell us about their gains and pains, new insights and progress. Recently we’ve learned all about Progressive Web Apps and designing for performance, topics that aren’t our everyday business but matter a lot. It also helps to create better understanding between designers and developers. The great variety in topics make it interesting to be present at every lecture.

We also enjoy having people from outside our company come over every now and then, to host a lunch lecture. A researcher of the Royal Dutch Touring Club (ANWB) taught us all about usability testing and Dropbox paid us a visit to explain the working of smart sync. It’s wonderful to see that sharing knowledge works contagious.

Jeroen and Rochelle from Dropbox took the time to visit our office in Amsterdam

Upload it!
Each lunch lecture is live streamed on a protected YouTube link. That way, everyone is involved at both our Amsterdam and Rotterdam office. And there are more advantages to this.

By uploading all lunch lectures to our YouTube channel, it’s easy for colleagues who work at client’s site to watch it later. Also, new colleagues are able to see previous editions once they’re on board. Not only do they obtain valuable information that way, but it also encourages them to give a lunch lecture themselves once they feel confident.

Uploading the videos also creates the possibility for you to see how you presented your story. Maybe you were tongue-tied, you could have perhaps left parts out, and was the speed you were talking at OK or should you maybe slow down a bit next time? Watch and learn.

The great thing with lunch lectures is: there really aren’t rules. Whether they take 5 minutes or almost half an hour, it’s OK. The goal has always been to inform, share and enjoy. In the next few weeks, we’ll hear about the Three-Hour Brand Sprint by Google Ventures and our revitalised library within the company. There’s lots to look forward to.

If you think introducing lunch lectures could be of interest to your company, just start setting up a first edition. Keep it simple, don’t aim too high. Think of a topic that your colleagues or employees would like to hear about. Read that one book that taught you so much a second time and write down its most valuable lessons. Inform, share, and enjoy.

Danny showed 7 features Sketch forgot to include

If you’d like us to host a lunch lecture at your office, we would happily do so. Over the years, we’ve gained knowledge on many topics. We have specialists in Design Sprints, usability testing, prototyping, and context mapping, among others, in our team. Let us know where we can help you!

Erik van Dam
Copywriter at Hike One