Table XI Blog

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Technologies to Support Health and Happiness of LGBTQ+ Youth

Hopelab, a social innovation lab based in San Francisco, uses co-design methodology to explore solutions to common social problems faced by LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. The best design is functional as well as stimulating, but can it be aspirational? Can design thinking encourage wellbeing and be a process for manifesting hope? Can design create resources for a promising future for the LGBTQ+ community? Table XI and client partner, Hopelab, has confidence this can be achieved.

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Table XI Delivery Lead Talks the Power of Belonging

It’s Pride Month in Chicago, and at Table XI, that means celebrating diversity and inclusion. 

Diversity, a term used more often to describe people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders and sexual orientations, really only captures a fraction of Lora’s story. Lora Ferraro, a long-term consultant and delivery lead at Table XI, possesses a colorful background of professional and personal life experiences. A passionate advocate and active voice behind the power of belonging within the workplace, we sat down to understand how the choices that she made helped her to arrive at the height of her career today.

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Judith Sol-Dyess talks Table XI, Values, and Creating an Inclusive Company

Judith, a TXI delivery lead, is sitting in her office filled with a lush garden of plants that creep up her wall giving way to a collection of framed lithograph art. She moved across the pond to Catalonia last year with her family to begin a new chapter of her life. Even though Judith embarked upon a new phase, she still has strong ties to Table XI and has managed to find a balance so she can continue working with the company as a consultant.
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Kinetic Learning: Learn to Love Self-Conferencing

A few weeks back, I was clearing out my inbox and browsing the folder where I had bookmarked dozens of articles to read (at some point) when it suddenly dawned on me: my routine had become my enemy. 

Let me explain. 

First off, it will probably come as a surprise to no one that I work exclusively from home right now. This means my day is relatively predictable. I know who I am going to see, what I am going to talk about, and when I am going to do these things. From one perspective, it’s rather fortifying. No surprises (for the most part). On the other hand, though, it’s quite limiting. No surprises. 

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One Year Later: Reflections on Table XI’s DEIB Progress

A year ago, Table XI made a commitment to incorporate a more rigorous DEIB lens to every facet of our culture and business in light of demands for change across the world. In response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others call for racial justice resounded around the world, and the team at Table XI took time to listen and reflect. A year ago today, we committed to making systemic changes to our organization’s approach to business with racial justice and accountability serving as guiding principles. One of those commitments was to be transparent about the actions we take and our progress along the way.

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Acknowledging Indigenous land and working toward reparations

A critical aspect of being anti-racist in America means to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. As part of a continued anti-racism effort at Table XI, we wrote a land acknowledgment to recognize the Indigenous peoples of what we know today as North America. Specifically, we recognize that members of Table XI reside on the stolen homelands of:

  • The Council of 3 Fires (Ojibwa, Odawa, and Potawatomi) - Chicago
  • Duwamish Tribe - Seattle
  • Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute Tribes - Denver

Land acknowledgments have become increasingly common in areas of the world that are colonized — namely the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. They primarily serve as a reminder that the land we reside on was taken by force from Indigenous peoples, and that many of those peoples live on today. However, we also recognize that the land acknowledgment falls flat when used as a superficial gesture without any further call to action (this critique of land acknowledgments explains further).

Our intent is to avoid performative allyship and engage in meaningful support. For that reason, it was important that our land acknowledgement include relevant historical context, draw knowledge directly from Indigenous content creators where possible and encourage donations to specific Indigenous organizations local to our areas.

Historical context

Part of acknowledging Indigenous peoples is recognizing their accomplishments as the native stewards of these lands. It is a common myth that North America was an unfettered wilderness that European settlers tamed. In the land acknowledgment, we mention instances where Indigenous peoples paved trails and farmed land (such as with the Potawatomi Tribe in Chicago) and used their knowledge to aid the survival of settler communities (such as with the Duwamish Tribe in Seattle). We also sought to mention the specific broken treaties and deceptive agreements where possible (such as those that forced the Ute Tribe off their lands in Denver).

Indigenous content creators

The land acknowledgment drew knowledge from a variety of different sources, including those written by institutions, historical articles and websites curated by Indigenous communities. We tried to use information from Indigenous websites as often as we could to learn directly from the community and respect how they prefer to present themselves and their history (such as with the Duwamish Tribe).

Donations to local Indigenous organizations

In all three metropolitan areas, there are Indigenous organizations advocating for Native communities, continuing cultural traditions and engaging in mutual aid. Especially during COVID-19, where Indigenous peoples are at higher risk due to centuries of violence and disempowerment by white society, we believe it is critical to show meaningful monetary support. We started by donating to all the organizations listed in our land acknowledgment, and plan to continue supporting and engaging in ongoing relationships with the Indigenous community.

In truth, land acknowledgments are just the first step in supporting Indigenous peoples. As individuals and an organization striving to be anti-racist, we know there is always more to do and to learn. While it is difficult to envision true reparations to Indigenous lives and communities destroyed by colonialism and white supremacy, we’re committed to making an effort toward that end.

Our pursuit of anti-racism comes from both our personal ethics and our professional obligation to build software and systems that work for people. Without a full representation of everyone’s experience, we’ll never be able to design and develop a better future.

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A diversity survey and report that allows nuanced identities

We had a lot of beliefs about who worked at Table XI, but not a lot of data. We had never done a diversity survey to see how people identified, in part because we weren’t a large organization and in part because we felt like we already knew the answer. Which is proof we fall into the same trap we’re constantly helping our partners avoid.

Forget what you think you know and ask questions of the people you’re trying to understand.

See the results in our first annual diversity report

To pull together the right survey questions, we had to think about what we were trying to learn, where it would ultimately be shared and most importantly, how we could make everyone feel comfortable sharing information about how they identify. It took us about half a year to figure out, but what we have now is a repeatable and representative process we can use to put real goals behind our diversity efforts going forward.

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Optimize Remote Facilitation with These 9 Tips

We had remote employees and remote project managers well before COVID-19, but the pandemic made remote facilitation part of everyone’s reality. It also made us realize we weren’t as optimized for remote work as we thought. 

In the past, if a technical issue came up during a meeting, we’d try to resolve it, but it would usually fall on the remote person to figure out what worked best for them. COVID-19 changed this: We had to get more deliberate, and our facilitations are better for it. 

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How defining design principles strengthens products and teams

Is the time and effort invested in defining design principles worth it—especially when it might feel like self-indulgent make-work? Can a relatively new but growing design team find a shared purpose and principles that work for every team member? Do design principles even make sense for a consultancy whose product design work changes client to client?

We weren't certain of the answers to these quandaries when we started, but defining TXI's design principles helped unify and crystallize who we want to be as designers and teammates. This outcome feels like a resounding 'yes' to us.

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The business imperative for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Anything we’ve wanted to improve on at Table XI has come with a plan. A couple of years ago it became clear we could be doing better with hiring and working with diverse groups of people so we started to discuss plans for it. We had guidelines for what this would look like and had a few programs running in the background of our day to day operations. 

Since the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent widespread civil unrest, it’s become clear to us that diversity equity and inclusion cannot be sidework to our overall product. It cannot be seen as a program of work or an initiative — but rather a core part of our company strategy. It has to be with all of us in everything we do.

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