My Company, My "Why"
A few weeks ago, I presented at the third annual Experience Design (XD) Summit at Best Buy's corporate headquarters. As the MC introduced me, she reminded the audience I'd be leaving Best Buy in a few weeks to embark on a new adventure launching my own company! In this brief moment, my professional life flashed before my eyes and I found myself both wistful for the past and excited for the future. Since that "flash", I’ve been reflecting on the experiences that laid the groundwork for my company and the “why” that’s driven my professional decisions for the past 20 years.
My new company, XD Go!, helps organizations, teams, and individuals build and strengthen their Experience Design (XD) capabilities. After mentoring practitioners and building XD teams from the ground up for the past 20 years, I've come to know a thing or two about what it takes to help people understand and embrace Human-Centered Design (HCD).
But where did this idea come from?
About 10 years ago, I was working with a client to re-design a B2B e-commerce site. As part of my work, I spent a significant amount of time on the road with one of the client's VPs doing contextual usability testing with the target users. During lunch one day, the VP could barely contain his excitement over what we were discovering as a result of this simple technique. The VP then asked me to help train his staff on how to do their own usability testing. This is when I first realized the potential need for a company that helps organizations, teams, and individuals build and strengthen their XD capabilities.
Since this experience, I've watched closely as the demand for Human-Centered Design (HCD), in all of its forms, exploded! And why wouldn't it?
People simply prefer good experiences with products, services, and technology and companies who design and deliver good experiences realize increased revenue, significant savings in cost, and happy, loyal, vocal advocates of their brand.
Amidst this explosion, I've made 2 important observations:
There are relatively few people who "do" Human-Centered Design and even fewer who do it well.
Organizations who believe in and want the benefits of Human-Centered Design, often struggle to understand what it really takes to establish and sustain its practice.
In response, I have spent the last 10 years developing a suite of services aimed at helping organizations, teams, and individuals build and strengthen their XD capabilities. From individual coaching, all the way to full-on organizational transformation, my company will fill a need that is only beginning to be met in the marketplace!
Ok, so why am I doing this?
If you've spent any time on the internet in the last 10+ years, chances are you've encountered the concept of Simon Senik's Golden Circle. The basic idea in Senik's Circle (Say that 5 times fast!) is that individuals and companies who start with "why" (versus "how" or "what") are more likely to inspire action and realize success.
I have a flashbulb memory of when I first articulated my professional "why". The story goes something like this: I was interviewing for a position at an agency and the president asked me a really good question: "What really drives you, Matthew?" At that moment, all of my experiences to that point culminated in a single sentence: "I am happiest when I am helping individuals and organizations understand and embrace Human-Centered Design!"
As I uttered those words in that office, in that interview, on that day, the sheer truth of what I was saying resonated deeply with my whole person! It was a truly spiritual experience!
In the years that have passed since this interview, my professional "why" has remained intact, given my career a sharper focus and helped me make better professional decisions.
My professional "why" is also embedded into the central purpose of my company: We help organizations, teams, and individuals build and strengthen their Experience Design capabilities.
Well, onward and upward!