Kristy Tillman

Design Director at Society of Grownups & Founder at Tomorrow Looks Bright

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON April 25, 2016

Discussion

Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
I am Kristy Tillman, Design Director at Society of Grownups, Founder of Tomorrow Looks Bright, and former Co-Founder of The Human Utility fka The Detroit Water Project and former IDEOer! I love side projects and spend a considerable amount of time thinking about designing and technology for underserved populations and design for social impact in general.
chloé@champagnenoona · Digital Marketing Analyst
What are the top 2-3 skills you find the most valuable in entry/junior designers? It feels like there's pressure to not only design, but front end dev, UX, animation, etc.
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@champagnenoona Hi Chloe. This is a great question. For junior designers I am looking for an aptitude in at least one design discipline. So I don't expect junior designers to code, animate, and do UX, etc. I actually don't expect that from senior designers either. But especially for junior designers I am looking for curiosity, a willingness to work your ass off, and teachability. Design fundamentals can be taught and learned so I put more emphasis on the soft skills that demonstrate your potential to grow which is something that is hard to teach.
Ali R. Tariq@alirtariq · Product Designer, Manulife RED Lab
I love what your team has done with Society of Grownups. Was it difficult to convince the "powers that be" at Mass Mutual to put trust in the project and run it like a spin-off (with its own branding, business model, etc.)? What do you think the role of design is in pushing forward these types of bets?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@alirtariq Hi Ali. Thank you. Our parent company has continued to demonstrate trust in our direction so no that has not been hard at all. I think the role in design in pushing forward is to continue to understand what our target user needs and making things that help them better their lives and understand their money.
Michael Collett@workingmichael · Principal, WorkingMichael, LLC
Vignelli taught us that "if you can design one thing, you can design everything". do you feel this still applies as the discipline of design grows and spreads from physical objects to digital products?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@workingmichael Yes. However, I think the key is learning how to learn.
Michael Collett@workingmichael · Principal, WorkingMichael, LLC
@kristyt can you expand on this? i'm familiar with thinking about thinking (meta thinking), but what do you feel is the best way to further one's progress in learning about learning?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@workingmichael That it's not so much that being one type or designer means you can competently go into another field of design easily, but learning the process to fluidly do so is the ticket.
Taylor Barnett@taylor_atx · Community Engineer, Stoplight
What's a couple of things that anyone can do to design better products and platforms with underserved populations in mind?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@taylor_atx Hi Taylor. Humanizing the folks you are designing for, challenging your assumptions about those people and their needs, engaging them in the design process and realizing they probably have a good idea on how to go about solving the problem already.
brennan@letkma · Freelance industrial design
How can I as an industrial / hardware product designer help the typically software designer focused teams like these achieve greatness?
Lauren Dorman@laurendorman · Developer, A Color Bright
What advice would you give to someone looking to transition from a consultancy environment to a product team? Were there any challenges that you had to overcome or was it more of a natural changeover?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@laurendorman Oh yeah going from a consultancy where you often don't execute your ideas to a product team that lives in a constant state of iteration is definitely a big change. Product teams often have more constraints than a consultancy where clients are paying you for "out of the box" ideas. You have to get real and tangible a lot more quickly on a product team. Bridging the gap is totally doable. I, however, have seen people flounder in that transition. I'd think really hard about the kind of design work you rather be working on and what you want to be learning.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
What is the long-term impact you're hoping to make with Tomorrow Looks Bright? Have you considered corporate partnerships with tech companies to gather additional support for the project?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@tomstocklein I basically want to be an expert on black creativity. I realize that is super broad but I don't want to give away too much here. Yes I have considered corporate partnerships and plan to engage some companies later in the year for specific projects. Are you offering? LOL
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@kristyt That's awesome! Look forward to seeing Tomorrow Looks Bright take off! Haha, once my business is big enough, i'd definitely consider a sponsorship...
Maurice Cherry@mauricecherry · Content Marketer, Fog Creek Software
What are you excited about at the moment?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@mauricecherry I am excited about the products we are working on here at Society of Grownups (can't say much more than that).I am also excited about Tomorrow Looks Bright and the direction it will head. I've finally had a bit of a eureka moment about where I want to take it.
Maurice Cherry@mauricecherry · Content Marketer, Fog Creek Software
What would you say have been the fundamentals of your success?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@mauricecherry Butting in in places where my presence is unexpected and providing value to the folks there.
chloé@champagnenoona · Digital Marketing Analyst
What inspired tomorrow looks bright?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@champagnenoona I did an interview about this in Black Enterprise if you want a more in depth answer. But I am super interested in how we go about making meaning and designing how other people experience the world via design so I wanted to understand what other black women were making as a form of cultural commentary. I figured if I was interested in this other people would to so I decided to send it out as a newsletter.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are some of the side projects you are working on right now?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@bentossell I am working on my my newsletter called Tomorrow Look Bright. But I have much larger plans for it.
Agis Tsaraboulidis@agisilaostsaras · iOS Engineer, Iris
Hey Kristy!How you think devs & designers can collaborate better? 😃😁
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@agisilaostsaras At Society of Grownups we have a pretty collaborative team. Design and Devs share an office and we are anti-throwing things over the wall. We involve developers in design sessions and often our designers sit with developers to and pair on designs. There is a lot of theory out there about how to get design and devs to work together the best but I think what works for us here is that developers and designers have built relationships on trust and that takes our team very far. I also am in constant communication with our Engineering Director and spend a lot of time talking about how we run our teams.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are some of the biggest benefits of people working on side projects?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@bentossell Hi Ben. Great question. I could talk about this all day but I will list a few 1. You get a chance to work on a project without the business constraints of your job 2. It is an opportunity to learn a new skillset. 3. You meet new friends as you involve other folks in helping you execute. 4. A body of side project work tends to open up possibilities you probably wouldn't have imagined. (i.e. collaborations, speaking engagements, business opportunities, etc.)
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@jakecrump I have absolutely no idea and that makes me super excited. I have given up on thinking about my life/career in a linear fashion i.e. 1 yr, 5 yr, 10 years and more in cycles. Like right now I am in a huge growth/learning cycle so I optimize for opportunities to stretch. In 6 months I may be in a new cycle, who knows?
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What are some of your essential apps?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@jakecrump For design work Sketch, Creative Suite, a sharpie and a stickie notes. But on my phone I use Spotify, Snap Chat, Facebook Messenger and Twitter the most.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
What has been the single greatest technological advancement for underserved populations? What will be the next?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@andrewett This is a really hard question. There are so many underserved populations with various needs I think lumping them into one group for this question probably doesn't get us where we want with the question. I have to say though that The Human Utility, hands down is going to do a lot in this space. @tiffani is absolutely killing it and I can't wait to see her do more.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Kristy thanks for joining us today! What three things should every new founder constantly be thinking?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@ems_hodge Who is the target user. Understanding the market size of your user. And how are you going to make money.
Mark@markatsendbird · Head of Growth, SendBird
How do you increase your productivity on design work set aside from less-important task efficiently and effectively
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@markatsendbird Hi Mark. We have product managers and business owners that help us prioritize our tasks based on business needs.
Jonathan Alpay@suriteka · Developer Student
Hi, What are you thinking about the Internet of the Futur (IoT, VR, ...) ? And how can we design it ?
Kristy Tillman@kristyt · Head of Communication Design
@suriteka Hi Jonathan to be honest I don't think about IOT or VR a lot. This is probably not a great thing to continue.
Jonathan Alpay@suriteka · Developer Student
@kristyt I agree with you Kristy (maybe the usage of IoT could be great). So how do you see the futur of Internet and the webdesign ?