That being said, is has not been easy to find UX conferences closer to home. Sure, there are many of them in the US and we could be busy the whole year just by attending half of them. But we always felt like we were lacking good options here in Canada. That was until we took a chance last year to attend UXCamp Ottawa 2012 and discover how awesome this conference is.
Having had a great surprise a year ago, we decided to take an even bigger chance and sent 7 of our UX designers and researchers to attend this year’s UXCamp Ottawa in the beginning of november.
This time around it was a much bigger conference, better venue and even better organized. Even though not all the speakers were as good as last years’ exceptional line up, the end result was totally positive. Some of the talks were really inspiring but one of them in particular stroke us harder the all the others. It was the opening keynote that kept us thinking for hours and days after the conference was over.
Bill Derouchey, Design Studio Lead at GE Software, named his presentation “Chart Your Path to Product Ownership” but the title doesn’t make justice to the deepness of his talk. At the core of his talk was a message about the problems that the world will face in the future, how they will become more dramatic (food, environment, health care, transportation related problems among others) and how our UX skills will be useful in dealing with them. For him, these future problems will need leadership skills that UX professionals already know like:
- How to learn about people in their worlds.
- How to approach a problem with an open mind.
- How to dig deep to understand what the real problem is.
- How to distill, frame, communicate and solve the problem.
- How to experiment with solutions.
He also adds that these skills will need to be coupled with business knowledge that support our solutions and help us become “agents of change” and “product leaders”. Subjects like business models, marketing, budgeting, change management will need to be part of our solutions if we want them to thrive in the world. Solutions always have to be operationalized and to make it happen. UX professionals will have to learn how industries work and recognize when design problems are really business problems.
Bill ended the presentation asking us to picture ourselves five years from now as an exercise and a starting point to help us build upon our UX skills and become real world problem solvers. The slides deck can be found at http://www.slideshare.net/billder/chart-your-path-to-product-leadership
This talk alone was worth the trip but others were also very interesting with a special mention to Jesse James Garrett’s closing keynote “Design for Engagement”. UXCamp Ottawa has now a permanent place in our annual UX events calendar.