Recap on Design via Dialogue & Innovation: Talking with Engineers about Usability

Michigan UXPA was part of a great event on April 18th! We partnered with Ford Labs & Ford IT Design Enablement to discuss rhetorical flexibility and organizational change with folks from Michigan State University.

MSU’s Dawn Opel kicked things off with a talk about how to deal with “Engineers are from Mars, Designers are from Venus” situations. Being able to shift the way you talk about user experience based on different contexts is the key. Understanding why to make those language shifts and being able to recognize when to make them can be difficult, but exercises that span disciplines (such as art and science) are good practice.

Presenter Dawn Opel speaking to the audience

Jeff Grabill described how MSU is using design to reinvent itself as a learning institution. He challenged us all to think about how people experience transitions as a part of the experience design process.

In the panel discussion that followed, Judy Foster from Ford Labs and Fred Estabrook from Pillar Technology added commentary about language gaps, building trust, agile software development, change management best practices, speaking the language of “business”, and more.

Presenter panel with Fred Estabrook speaking

We had about 50 attendees, most of which were Ford employees. The non-Ford attendees were treated to a tour of Ford Labs afterwards.

Thanks to our colleagues at Ford IT Design Enablement for starting the conversation about this event, at Ford Labs for hosting, and at MSU for sparking the discussion!

Michigan UXPA is always looking to parter with other groups to run successful events like this, so if you’re interested please reach out to us at michiganuxpa@gmail.com.

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