We developed a cutting-edge web app to limit the effects of human bias and social coercion in the collaboration and decision-making process.
We don't need data to show that humans can be terrible decision-makers. This is a reality we've all experienced and one often amplified by poor collaboration and unhealthy collective dynamics. Bias and social pressure lead to inequality and result in unfavourable outcomes for individuals, groups, and society.
Data is nice though so..:
"Studies have shown that when people state they’re 65–70% sure they’re right, those people are only right 50% of the time. Similarly, when they state they’re 100% sure, they’re usually right about 70–85% of the time."(1) "...cognitive biases affect the outcome of our deliberations...decisions may be poor and risky in a broad range of modern, complex, and long-term challenges..." (2)
I joined Enswarm as Head of Product after a professional meet-cute with the founder in an East London pub – three pints down and six months into living in the city. My heart had just warmed to London's dirty glow, and my partner and I had decided to stay beyond the completion of her Ethics Master's at King's College.
I had recently begun an MA (in Global Leadership) and had been spending my time exploring the social, political, and economic systems that create the world we share. My interest was to understand how these complex systems interface and identify opportunities to influence them toward the support of human flourishing. I had been sketching a decision-making tool (coming soon to experiments) to enable an individual or group to offload the cognitive burden that arises when dealing with complex decisions that involve a variety of options, factors, human contributors, and unequally weighted selection parameters.
The founder and I connected around this problem space, and I accepted the role of Head of Product. I was tasked with guiding the UX/UI design of the Enswarm platform and collaborated with the leadership team on the broader business goals.
Moved to London while doing an MA in Global Leadership & joined Enswarm as Head of Product
Designed a new way (and app) to facilitate collaboration while reducing the impacts of bias and coercion during the collaboration process
At Enswarm, we worked as a globally distributed team, with the founding and design teams based in Europe and the development team in Asia. The founder had previously delivered a product in the space and had not yet reached market fit. It was a unique position to try and lead product design grounded in fundamentals while navigating the already complex hypothesis that the founding team had around what a solution needed to look like.
My design process broadly follows: (1) identify/validate the problem, (2) find out how people are already attempting to address it, (3) build a clear and specific view of what we can offer + why it matters, then (4) follow cycles of iteration until problem/solution fit is met within the product (and for good measure (0) make sure people want to pay for it).
I worked to clarify the problem within the team, settling on the difficulty of collaboration amplified by bias and social coercion; all leading to unfruitful and un-preferred outcomes. We began work on a simple collaborative decision tool but pivoted to a complex mind-map platform due to pressure from an investor/advisor and the founding team's preference for an interface similar to incumbents. It was challenging for me to align with the more complex direction when we were in such an early stage of problem/solution validation, but it's all part of the game, and we got to work to bring it from dream to reality.
I grounded the UI design in the visual language of the era (2018) while working to keep it fresh, clean, and inspiring to use. I created custom iconography, built out a fresh yet professional colour palette, and designed the UI/UX in a series of sprints.
I introduced tools internally that reduced our time/error from design to code, ensuring a more seamless implementation of my design system with our front-end team. This provided a helpful reduction of complexity, helping us to address the lengthened time between rounds of feedback/implementation caused by the distributed nature of our team. We completed the web app in a short amount of time and rolled it out for user testing.
Worked in a globally distributed team with exec + design teams in Europe and the dev team in Asia
Executed the entire UX/UI design, and oversaw front-end implementation
As a team, we deployed an engaging web app with a fresh visual design and an essential take on the collaboration space to a market who had indicated a need for a tool in this area. I led the customer research conversations after deployment, spoke to consultants across Europe, and worked with executives in the 'Big Four' consultancies to attempt to understand their core needs and tailor our product to address them. We aimed to make Enswarm a platform that people would turn to regularly similar to tools like Slack, MS Teams, Trello. We eased the onboarding process using 'magic link' invites and spent time teaching new users while observing their behaviour on the platform and the outcomes they did or did not achieve.
We deployed a well functioning and unique SASS product for collaboration
I led customer/product research convos – interfacing with executives in the big four global consultancies
LEARN / TRANSFORM
Enswarm was a unique product in the market and a valuable learning experience for me. As a team we deployed a delightful web app with a compelling design and witnessed it begin to make a meaningful contribution to our users. There was, however, a deep irony in the challenges we faced internally as a distributed team attempting to create a collaboration solution.
We ran into complex internal dynamics that slowed progress at critical times of build, deployment, and business development. I witnessed the challenges of investor/founder relationships and the necessity of clear lines of decision-making within executive teams. These challenges ultimately led to the exhaustion of the startup's runway, and the lack of proven product/market fit made it difficult for the leadership team to secure further funding.
There is a need in our world to create better tools to support more equitable outcomes and just futures. This need requires courageous founders/builders who address complex problem spaces and build meaningful and ultimately viable solutions. Enswarm may no longer be live but it began important work and so the vision remains...(and coming soon).
We built a beautiful, useful, and meaningful product
No matter how enjoyable the product is, it has to meet a recognized need in the market in a way that proves the business case