Actionable insights from Beyond Tellerrand: the missing manual

The eight annual Beyond Tellerrand conference just took place in Düsseldorf. It was my first, and it was worthwhile. Thanks to @futureshape for suggesting I go. And thanks to Florian Ziegler for making his beautiful black & white images available through Creative Commons.

Now, one fellow attendee commented on Twitter afterwards:

“what #btconf is […] missing is a manual on how to transition back to reality after it is over’.

beyond tellerrand Düsseldorf 2018
Confetti-strewn stage at beyond tellerrand – image courtesy of Florian Ziegler (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Good point – and one that is true for most conferences.

Once the confetti cannon has been fired at the end, it can feel a bit like the insights are scattered all over the place. And there is value in that as it allows you to tinker and take it apart yourself – as dina Amin made the case for.

And, as Jared Tarbell showed, ‘generative spaces’ can be a real source of both immediate inspiration – and long-term learning.

The key to making the most of it is to revisit, reflect, remix – and share (and with that, this article is shared through Creative Commons.

Back to reality – an attempt at creating the missing manual

To that end, I’ve tinkered a bit, pulled apart and re-assembled. I’ll leave the organisers to do an official version (or not as the case may be – Marc Thiele is already onto the next iteration, coming up in Berlin).

Meanwhile here’s a quick practical attempt to help those who attended in-person or from-afar: actionable insights and resources for further exploration.

All aligned with the intent of the conference:

“The name beyond tellerrand expresses the aim, that everybody involved wants look a bit further, look beyond the edge. It also reflects the global perspective of the event. The expression is a mix of the English word “beyond” and the German phrase “Über den Tellerrand schauen,” which means “Think outside the box”. The exact translation for the sentence is “Take a look beyond the edge of the plate” … Marc Thiele

Looking beyond the edge of the plate

The role of ethics in design and development

Mike Monteiro‘s compelling, colourful (and barnstorming) talk made people sit up. He made the case for ethics in both design and development. And in life in general. A veritable memento mori.

Actionable insights

Monteiro mantras for your wall:
  • “Criticism is a gift”

  • “You’re not hired for your hands, you’re hired for your spine.”

  • “Saying no is a design skill. Asking why is a design skill. Rolling your eyes is not a design skill.”

How to put these into action? Ask more questions. Act on what you hear. For some ideas on how you can structure this, see the Question Set at the end of this post.

Resources for further exploration

What history’s female Internet pioneers can teach us about tomorrow

Claire L Evans‘ talk was both informative and edifying – with timeless lessons.

Actionable insights

Claire L. Evans mantras for your wall:
  • “Diversity of mind is an asset”

  • “Nothing happens in a vacuum”

  • “Equality takes effort”

How to put these into action? Inform yourself about the organisation you work for: does it believe in equal pay (and does it practice what it preaches?). Does is believe in diversity? Does it hire and promote accordingly? If not, refer to Monteiro above – and the broader Question Set below as you reflect deeper.

Resources for further exploration

Hidden in plain view: Bleeding edge accessibility so good you never noticed

Actionable insights

Karl Groves’ talk used humour to make some very serious points. As he says: “if we’re lucky enough, we’ll all live to be disabled”. So go ahead and design with your future self in mind. And help others whilst you’re at it.

Karl Groves mantra for your wall:
  • “What is this thing and what does it do?”

Answering that question consistently will help you design better for all users. That said, we can all do with a wake-up call. Look at your work as others with different needs do. For example, try a screen reader and see how you get on. Or simply plug your URL into – and get an actionable report instantly. I immediately found a couple of things myself that are easy to fix. Thanks!

Resources for further exploration

The Importance of Failing Successfully

Actionable insights

Wesley Grubb’s talk drew on practical, real-life examples of things gone awry – and the lessons learnt from them. He invites us to do the same…

Wesley Grubb mantra for your wall:
  • “[reflecting on]…how we handle difficult times and situations makes us stronger”
A complementary mantra for your wall:
  • Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. – Søren Kierkegaard

How to put this into action? Take time out to do regular retrospectives: what was good, what was difficult, what might you want to do differently.

Resources for further exploration

A resource for ongoing reflection

Find (and share) the SlideShare version here – or download the full version of Strategic Horizons – a Question Set to help you Align Your Org.  It should print nicely A3-size for your wall.

Or if you want to share it on Twitter, then here’s a ready-made version for you:

Thanks to @marcthiele for putting on a great conference.

And do share your remix.