Working philosophy

An on-going distillation of what I have learnt and how I carry myself as a designer and collaborator.

My privilege is my blind spot

I’m privileged by my background, education and my career. And with it, I am blind to the experiences and prejudices endured by some others. I don’t know everything there is to know about this world. It’s my responsibility to be constantly examining my bias and challenging my influence.

To design a world that is more open and accessible for everyone, my job is to listen, to read, to engage, to involve and to always do better. I am part of a community responsible for advancing technology and design for everyone. At times, I will get it wrong but I’ll always keep trying.

Everyone is a product owner

I believe every person on a team is a product owner no matter their discipline. Each voice deserves to be heard; it’s how we get challenged to think differently and feel ownership and pride in what we build. Each individual contributes their perspective of the world, personal experiences, morals, value system, biases and skillset to create something. All these factors will impact what the product is and how it will be accessed and used by end-users. No one discipline is superior than the other.

When different perspectives are accounted for from the beginning, it will carry through to a considered experience that resonate and connect deeply with end users. A diverse team of owners will always outperform a homogenous one.

Always be elevating others

I’ve realized this is the best way to be a great collaborator and to lead. Understanding the motivations of teammates and what their definition of success looks like, enables me to contribute to their sense of purpose. I take great pride and joy when people around me find meaning in their work or realize their capabilities. I try my best to foster a safe space for candid conversations where others are empowered to ask anything of me.

Corny, but it’s true. When people find meaning and purpose in their work, we as a team are successful.

Black and white image. Katie is presenting to a group of people. Katie is standing in front of wireframes pinned up on a board.

Engage with complexity before simplifying

In order to create features that truly solve the problem for the end-user, designers need to understand both the context of that user, and the system in which the feature will exist. This is true of large corporations and small startups alike.

Too often, I’ve seen designers jump into design only to be caught in a loop of endless feedback sessions with no end in sight. Their infatuation with creating beautiful and minimal visuals to dazzle in a presentation got ahead of solving the actual problem.

To me, it’s not a choice between interaction or visual design. It’s a mindset to engage; to ask questions and refrain from operating under assumptions. I keep this principle in mind to force a clear definition of the problem and to anchor the exploration of ideas and interactions. Polishing the pixels can always be done at the end.

This is how I design with purpose.

Vulnerability is leadership

It’s not a weakness to ask for help or admit mistakes. Rather it shows willingness to just be human and to grow. I’ve asked for help from so many people in my career. I realized with every “I don’t know” or “can you help me with…”, I gave my colleagues an opportunity to feel needed and be meaningful. Together, we stepped up to challenges knowing we’re all needed by one another. It’s how trust is built.