Table XI Blog

Product Design

I don’t care where you went to school

I care a lot about hiring the right people to join TXI. But I think our version of “right” differs from other companies.

First off, I don’t care what university you went to. Or if you went to university. You can just leave that part off your resume and I will never notice.

What university you went to tells me a couple of things: 1) How well you can answer standardized test questions that research has shown to be biased toward over-represented groups and 2) How much money your family was able to spend for your higher education and/or how indebted you were willing to become for the same experience.

What university you went to tells me nothing about your skills, your curiosity, your passion, your openness to new ideas, your kindness, your dedication, or anything that I vet for when hiring. 

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Why we’re engaging with counter-narratives

In June 2021, the TXI team partnered with InterAction, a Chicago-based educational nonprofit organization, for workshops on both racial justice and counter-narratives as part of our ongoing efforts to become an anti-racist organization.

Our global, national and personal histories are often dominated by narratives that serve the interests of white supremacy and hetero-patriarchy. As InterAction defines them, counter-narratives center “stories told by marginalized people to unearth and disrupt power and reveal collective experiences of oppression.” These narratives provide “a message [or] way forward” from systems of oppression, but they can be difficult for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) to access.

In this article, we’ll explain why we decided to invest time and resources into a counter-narrative workshop. We’re sharing in the hopes that understanding our motivations for doing this work will help other organizations empower their BIPOC employees to tap into and tell their own counter-narrative stories.

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Career growth and development at TXI

Before I joined TXI about five years ago, I’d spent most of my career in education. I care deeply about learning and growth opportunities, and there’s a large body of research that indicates that personalized learning with qualified educators leads to better outcomes. So when I decided to make some significant enhancements to how TXI supports its people, I knew I wanted to incorporate those two elements: diverse growth paths for individuals to choose from, no matter their starting point, and expert training for the managers who would be supporting them on those paths. 

Before this effort, TXI had a linear level model--effectively, a “ladder”. There was one way to grow, straight up a predetermined path. The structure implied that all people at the same level needed to focus on the same kinds of work, deliver the same kinds of value--that they were all, in a sense, the same. It wasn’t true, of course, but it did impact people’s reality: it was how we set expectations, evaluate outcomes, and define titles and compensation. 

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Using Miro as a client deliverable

When scoping work early on a project, I ask myself and the team, whose hands are receiving our deliverable? As researchers, we too often instead ask who’s best served by these deliverables but sometimes fail to see the reality of the situation. At the end of a project, we’re usually a few steps removed from the hands that make the thing, e.g., engineers and product designers who design and develop our recommendations. So how can we shape our handoff to better suit those in between?

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Digital accessibility: Hover and focus style

Navigating through a website with just a keyboard is challenging. Instead of using a mouse to hover and focus, point and click, you can only tab over the interactive elements to advance you to the next section. Approximately 20 million people in the USA have difficulty lifting or grasping, significantly impacting their ability to use a mouse. Without the ease of tab navigation, disabled people are more likely to leave a page in search of digital accessibility. 

Today, accessibility in the physical world is regulated by the ADA. People with disabilities have dedicated parking spaces, ramps, and even wide entryways so they may patron their favorite businesses. Screen reader and keyboard access along with caption and transcripts have enabled better access to digital experiences. However, the pandemic has made the need for digital accessibility experiences to be greater. From mobile apps to websites, many organizations are beginning to learn why it is so important to factor in human-centered design when building or optimizing their existing digital product or website

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Judith Sol-Dyess talks TXI, 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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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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5 barriers to healthcare innovation — and how to avoid them

This article was written by Tim Berendt with support from Table XI.

Barriers to healthcare innovation are baked right in to the American healthcare system. The never-ending siloing of disciplines and expertise along with HIPAA regulations and archaic legacy systems are all barriers to driving new innovations in patient experience. 

Which is frustrating, because moving healthcare forward depends on innovation. Especially now. 

COVID-19 has made it clear that healthcare needs to be able to pivot — and fast — to meet the rapidly changing needs of patients. The users need care, they need it now and they need to leave the process feeling better than when it started. 

Yet healthcare is often cautious, with an old guard that’s slow to innovate. Insurance companies and hospital systems are not always built for rapid innovation and can be at odds with the way new actors seek to disrupt and improve the current healthcare landscape. Unlike many other industries in America, healthcare has dragged its feet when innovation is at play. But it doesn’t have to.

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Our favorite accessibility testing tools for checking our work

Being an organization that’s truly devoted to equity means bringing accessibility testing tools into every part of our process. It’s not a box to check — making our products accessible makes them better, and we have a responsibility to make sure what we build works well for everyone. 

Still, accessibility isn’t static. Much like our commitment to anti-racism, our work with accessibility involves ongoing work and an evolving process. It’s also not work we get to grade. Ultimately, it’s the audience who determines whether our software is accessible, as we’ve written about before. 

Thankfully as our understanding of what audiences need grows, so do the tools to help us meet them. We surveyed some of our team to share their go-to tools for making products user-friendly for the widest audience.

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The ideation process helps your team find the most compelling solution

Getting to the ideation process in the double diamond method of design thinking starts to dial up the excitement. By this step, you have had a whole team of different subject matter experts soaking in the details of the user. You all have a clear picture of who you are building for and what problems they are facing. 

Now you get to invent things. 

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