Some words on Marilyn Loden’s Diversity Wheel

Marilyn Loden created the diversity wheel and has updated it three times since 1991. She recently changed Religion to Spirituality, changing the name and adding new categories that were not previously there, speaking to identity and things that create a sense of identity.


Like the diversity wheel, I will be writing at a high level as I continue to learn about organisational design. When looking at the version of her diversity wheel (as is), the organisational ring needs a second look. There are organisational versions of her diversity wheel that have the lenses that create cross-cutting or nesting subcultures within organisations which are different types and forms of the relationships that can be developed within an organisation. At this moment in time, we have no idea about the long term effects of organisational culture and nested cultures and cross cutting cultures.

Geography plays a unique role within organisational culture. Companies oftentimes reflect the local and national cultures. Coca-Cola adopts and/or adapts to the local metropolitan Atlantan culture, the regional humid “Southern” culture (that created a need for a “Delicious and Refreshing” drink), and the national US culture. Political events also play a unique role within organisational culture because they are oftentimes sources of gravity (drawing investments in or repelling them to other places). Coca-Cola locations based in Singapore “provide global experiences for their employees to learn and grow” because the Singapore government remains committed to working with companies, to continually invest in R&D, technology adoption and skills training, which the US government does not do much. Because of Coca-Cola’s interest in growth potential, they have locations in Asia-Pacific that leverage political events (agenda)s to their advantage. This global footprint results in these Coca-Cola locations renegotiating and taking on different or similar traits based on both cultural locality/geographic location and political events.

It’s not widely studied, agile cross-disciplinary teams that are a part of their discipline, such as a dev in their own team but also a member of an agile cross-disciplinary team where they create a hybrid culture working with designers, PMs, and researchers – but whatever hobbies they have outside work, they are a part of that culture too and those different experiences are slowly influencing the cultures that they are interacting with so it becomes this weird interconnected web – can you truly understand a culture?

An organisation is a system, that doesn’t mean that humans are a part of an organisation, they are a part of a culture, a dominant culture, and whatever cultures they have been exposed to, it becomes nuanced and complex in an extremely fast way. It becomes a web of meaning, 

Thanks to the wonderful Amanda Andres for taking the time to edit

Fandom, from “we” to “us’

For over eight months, I have had the pleasure of working at GreenPark Sports researching sports and esports fandom, the culture surrounding esports/sports leagues, teams and players, as well as fan behaviours and motivations.

There are so many complex facets to explore, but ultimately I wanted to share what I have taken away.

At a fundamental level, sports fans are a part of a tribe. For many, their fandom is rooted in family tradition, sometimes even spanning generations, which motivates them for a lifetime.

However, sports fandom is bigger than the experience of the arena.

I have noticed two very binary patterns: BIRging (basking in reflected glory) and CORFing (cutting off reflected failure).

Basking In Reflected Glory:

This is when a fan is caught up in the moment of victory, they are basking in glory. When a fan identifies with a team, they are like orbiting satellites to the sun where they feel themselves aglow from the victory and therefore a part of it  

That is when the use of the term “we” comes about.

Cutting off reflected failure

This is the phenomenon that occurs when a fan experiences defeat. 

They switch from “we” to “they”, they no longer identify, they take off their jersey or put at the back of the closet

Ultimately, the dominant explanation for this is access to the feelings of victory.


There was a very famous study performed. Someone took a 2×4 and set it on the ground and then asked a group of people to walk the 2×4 heel-to-toe.

They laid the 2×4 on the mat, people walked across it. Easy. It went off without a hitch.

Two step ladders were then brought out, the 2×4’s were then hung across them. The same group were asked who was ready to walk it. Not a single person raised their hand.

The environment changed, but the act did not.

Chaos is a reality.

In life, in our careers, the environment changes constantly.

At the end of the day, it’s the same challenge, it’s the same 2×4…

So many times we try to identify the right emotion. What is the emotion that is going to help?

Learning, skills, experience. That is what helps us. Moving forward, always getting up, working through the uncertainty. These are actions, not one of these are an emotion.

Frustration, sadness, not one of these is going to change anything.

Actions will.

The performance of design systems in baseball

I spent 2018 working in the unique role as an experience strategist within the high performance sector. In that I become immersed in the concept of the ‘performance of design’ and wanted to share some thoughts:

  • In game, designers are at the frontline. They don’t have six weeks, they have the end of the sixth inning. Designers lament over what we have to achieve in two months, designers in sport have to do it in a game.
  • I learnt a new appreciation for what they do. Speed. Accuracy. Working the best under pressure.
  • Design is a gift that you can craft and if you focus it in, you can create a beautiful system. Bad day or good night, there is a way to handle it with a good design system.
  • Parts and pieces of the typefaces and assets ready to go. That is how they handle the pressure.

Gone fishin’

I’ve been in Melbourne for eight weeks. My life has been AI and blockchain, working with some of the finest developers and data scientists in the business.

What now? Gone fishin’

[My uncle, also known as The Godfather] 

Music on the edge


Summertime in Brooklyn, mustard on your lip. I knew I loved you by the bottom of the fifth.

There is that moment of impact when a song starts playing, you hear a few chords, the downbeat drops in and your mind naturally travels somewhere else.

All cognitive friction is gone. You feel a rush go through your body and for a brief moment everything is tranquil. Your mind is absolutely focused on it’s subtle chord progressions and rich tapestry of words that have now formed a detailed picture.

For three minutes you share that composite character’s experience.

I’m sitting in East Nashville right now, my head is with David Nail in Brooklyn at a Cyclones game, sharing his perfectly detailed heart break. His life is becoming a blur, it’s the end of summer and mascara is running down his lover’s eyes as she ends their relationship.

Isn’t music bloody awesome?

This post was written on January 3, 2018 at Barista Parlor in Nashville, Tennessee

What organisations can learn from a country music-centred approach.

A lyric from a song by Sugarland still flaws me to this day: “Pictures, dishes and socks, It’s our whole life down to one box.” The simple attention to detail is a reminder that country music at it’s foundation is written for humans. Beautifully described by Bill C. Malone, country music is a vigorous hybrid form of music, constantly changing and growing in complexity, just as the society in which it thrives also matures and evolves, with no practical limitations.

I will now offer up a loaded statement: as designers we are finally catching up to country music.

We are beginning to focus not just on customers, but humans. This puts us in an exciting position, we are increasingly adopting a human-centred approach to design to create experiences while adapting to the same technology in tandem ourselves.

Large scale organisations are now (finally) zooming out and focusing their products based on the needs, habits, desires and motivations (as well as the context of use) of their customers whilst balancing this with technical and financial feasibility.

Companies like Netflix, Spotify and Uber have disrupted stagnant industries and markets. Their success is a result of not simply looking at where the industry was at the time, but where they wanted it to be. Bill Monroe did the same for country music in 1948 when he decided to place fiddle, banjo and mandolin at the front line of his music, creating a new style and genre known as bluegrass.

Outside of Appalachia, these companies now continue to experiment, grow, thrive and adapt based on how their customers use their product every day. If we like Netflix and Uber look at the long game, focusing on basic customer needs, habits, desires and motivations this will as assist us in understanding the activities relevant to our designs, products and the expectations of the humans we are designing for.

For the “non-disruptors,” the logical step is not creating small teams in pockets of the organisation, but how they can persist and continuously reimagine where humans are going at an organisational scale.

Time to cowboy up.

When we don’t build

There is an amazing talk by Wilson Miner titled “When We Build,” sharing his observations about our role as product designers in the new digital world. But what happens when do won’t build?

Sometimes you become complacent, but the creative brain never dies, it still wants to think, solve problems and design solutions. In my role at General Assembly I am experiencing elation watching my students rapidly evolve into user experience practitioners. While I am sitting there helping them grow, I find myself walking home every day feeling a little unsettled.

After some reflection I realised that I’m not infused with an action, I’m not working towards something tangible.

At the beginning of the course I began sketching every night as a drill to keep my hands busy and fluid. That drill and focus quickly turned into an indispensable design tool: it developed into a habit.

On Friday morning I was early for a meeting, I found myself pulling out a small notebook and drawing shapes, keeping my hands busy. My hands have now become conditioned to generate whenever I have a spare moment. The frustration of not building took a daily routine and transformed into muscle memory.

I was taught early on in my career that when you see your pencil, a sketch and the work that you are put into making something so simple, your creative wisdom grows. When we build, we become product designers, create stories symbolic of the milestones and moments in the lives of other human beings.

These ten weeks have infused my need to create. I have returned to my pencil and notepad, wireframing screens that I’ll never ship and constantly reading. I am not passively waiting for things to come my way when I can do them by myself, right now.

At this moment I’m not building an actual product, but I am helping to build tomorrow’s designers for the new world.

In four weeks I step out of my role as teacher and return to the world as designer. I’m excited.

We should work together.

Half way through: the joy of design and teaching at General Assembly.

This summer I spent a lot of kiteboarding, hitting the road and taking on small projects. I’ll be honest about playing the role of design troubadour…it’s really fun!

Then six weeks ago I was pinged by General Assembly asking me if I had a spare ten weeks to come on board as an Instructional Associate for their User Experience Immersive Class. I meditated on the opportunity for about five minutes, stretched, and emailed them back: challenged accepted.

Walking onto the GA campus for the first time was a little daunting, knowing that these people (adults, wow!) had set aside twelve weeks of their lives to jump feet first into something completely new. My role with is to help take them from inception to industry ready in just ten weeks.

Throughout my career it has been drilled into me by my mentors that knowledge is a gift, something that’s never to be taken for granted. It’s my responsibility to make sure it is shared, not restricted to my own mind.

I quickly found myself going back to the basics, revising things that I had not thought about in over half a decade. Card sorting anyone?

After spending time with the students it didn’t take me more than a day to get excited. Witnessing the curiosity from the students after exploring something as simple as contextual inquiry made design feel alive again.

“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.” – Don Norman

Teaching is intense and still feels new. There is pressure to be the person students turn to when they have a problem, to be the source of knowledge. It’s a positive pressure and a rare joy when work feels like a privilege, not just a necessity.

Half way in. Watch this space.

Auditioning for life in pictures

Fewer things excite me more than building things.

Today I’m sitting in a coffee shop (surprise, surprise), I have my beloved overpriced Bose QC25’s cancelling out the loud music and white noise. I’m trying to smash out a lo-fi mock up by midday. Today I’m constantly thinking of ideas, seeing potential in everything.

I’m also having one of those days where the fewer interactions with people the better. It’s the glorious experience that one of my friend’s has labelled “lone wolf mode” – a brief sabbatical from human interaction while still engaging with the the world. This leaves me alone to think and make things.

When the waitress brought over my flat white, I returned to the world for a brief moment to say thank you and took the opportunity to look away from my screen for a quick people watch. What I saw came as no shock.

The main focus of my fellow humans was not the person sitting at the table opposite them, the individual deemed important enough that they carved out time in their lives to see. No, they’re on their phones, capturing beautiful snaps of their coffee from a flawless vertical angle.

They are sharing a carefully maintained and perfectly curated projection of their life to the world…through a filter.

I am both intrigued and horrified by this at the same time.

They are skipping an opportunity to connect with another person and instead striving to ensure that their other life, the one watched in pictures by strangers and voyeurs, their own personal audience, is perfect.

They are developing a character, an individual created for their audience to see, enjoy and envy. They are auditioning for that same role every single day.

Perhaps Macbeth had it right, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage”

UFC 193: The brilliant dance

A crazy road with nine weeks of anticipation. At last it was there. UFC 193. Etihad Stadium, 56,218 people. A UFC record (sorry Canada).

Yesterday I experienced something of unlikely beauty in the twisted, alluring and violent game of MMA. It’s a difficult task to describe the brilliant dance that takes place when two humans step into the cage, set their fears aside and commit their bodies to battle, voulntarily placing themselves at the intersection of greatness and violence.

There is no guarantee of win or grandeur – just the chance to add the mark of victory to their own story.

Sitting first row, barely ten feet away, I witnessed the rich tapestry of footwork, head movement, every set up and level change, every clinch. The exact moment that a human being is battling their natural instinct with logic and implementing the perfect game plan. Also the carnage. It’s indescribable, like watching pieces of puzzle fall perfectly into place.

For over seven hours I watched men and women exit the cage, some left battered and bruised, others with their head held high. Their victory is one of primitive destruction and their minds briefly abducted into absolute triumph before gravity drives them back to down to earth.

Knowing that these prize fighters have physically diminished their bodies for a day, a week or perhaps a lifetime is a heavy cross to bare when it happens right before your eyes. Voluntarilty watching a body fall limp to the canvas after a brutal head kick or a witnessing a fleeting moment of unconsciousness after a perfectly executed rear naked choke – it’s an emotional quandry, not something to be taken lightly but something that demands respect.

It’s almost impossible not to become captivated by the experience, even more impossible to explain it to those who don’t understand it. To them it’s an exhibtion of violence, not art. And thankfully, they don’t control the narrative.

My first chapter in MMA has finally been completed, I wait in eager anticipation for the next.