I’ve spent the last few days in San Francisco where I was hosting Leading Design.

It was excellent. Rebecca did an absolutely amazing job with the curation, and the Clearleft delivered a terrific event, as always. I’m continually amazed by the way such a relatively small agency can punch above its weight when it comes to putting on world-class events and delivering client work.

I won’t go into much detail on what was shared at Leading Design. There’s an understanding that it’s a safe space for people to speak freely and share their experiences in an open and honest way. I can tell you that there were some tough topics. Given the recent rounds of layoffs in this neck of the woods, this was bound to happen.

I was chatting with Peter at breakfast on the second day and he was saying that maybe there was too much emphasis on the negative, like we were in danger of wallowing in our own misery. It’s a fair point, but I offered a counterpoint that I also heard other people express: when else do these people get a chance to let their guard down and have a good ol’ moan? These are design leaders who need to project an air of calm reassurance when they’re at work. Leading Design is a welcome opportunity to just let it all out.

When we did Leading Design in New York in March of 2022, it was an intimate gathering and the overwhelming theme was togetherness. After two years of screen-based interactions, it was cathartic to get together in the same location to swap stories and be reminded you are not alone.

Leading Design San Francisco was equally cathartic, but the theme this time was change. Change can be scary. But it can also be energising.

After two days of introducing and listening to fascinating talks on the topic of change, I closed out my duties by quoting the late great Octavia Butler. I spoke the mantra of the secular Earthseed religion founded in Parable Of The Sower:

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

Is Change.

Have you published a response to this? :


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Previously on this day

2 years ago I wrote Design leadership on the Clearleft podcast

The first episode of season two is here.

7 years ago I wrote Handling redirects with a Service Worker

A bugfix for Chrome’s errant behaviour.

9 years ago I wrote Workshoppers of the world

Divide and take over.

15 years ago I wrote The L words

Oh, what a difference an Oh makes.

20 years ago I wrote Music for the masses

I’m back from a day in London where I enjoyed the closest thing a geek like me is going to get to culture.

21 years ago I wrote Nokia XHTML Browser

This is one of the best arguments I’ve seen so far for coding in XHTML-strict.