Well Made

Ep. 136 Building the future right now with Kristy Tillman

December 31, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

After four years as Slack's Head of Global Design and before taking on her new role at Facebook, Kristy Tillman brought her side projects to the forefront.

Kristy has a list of impressive side projects in her creative think tank, Tomorrow Looks Bright. It's a place where she does more than invite herself to the table — she creates the table and sits at the head. Kristy's work is always driven by optimism and an urgent need for a more equitable future which doesn't start in a decade, or in a year, but tomorrow.

In this episode, Kristy talks about incentivizing diversity, acting on your values early, designing for millions of people at Slack, and before designing for 30 people with her new fellowship, Made in the Future.

“I don't see the future as a destination that's waiting on us to land. I feel like every day we add a brick, and it's important to be conscientious about that brick.”

Kristy shares her bittersweet feelings on Slack's recent acquisition by Salesforce before diving into her main focus for the past few months — Tomorrow Looks Bright (3:26). Kristy shares what drives her urgency for a future that starts tomorrow ( 4:28).

On December 10, Kristy and a group of mentors wrapped up the first session of Made in the Future — a new fellowship for underrepresented design talent (7:54). She shares what's different, and what's the same, about designing an experience for 30 people as opposed to millions and what's she's learned from the current generation of designers (12:20)

For as quickly as tech moves, diversity progress is painfully slow. Kristy says that it's due to lack of incentives for the hard diversity work that needs to be done, in addition to relationship-based hiring that perpetuates underrepresentation (19:33).

She talks about the conflicts that can arise with designing for huge platforms that have become synonymous with modern life, and how some mistakes are just part of our evolution (27:49).

As an investor, she shares some advice that she often gives to founders, plus some of the key advice she gave to her first cohort of fellows (34:11), then she answers the question we've asked a lot on the show in 2020: "How do you give your company a soul?" (36:36). The answer is similar to the answer for more diversity — make your values a priority from the very start. Use your values as a map, rather than a pit stop.

Kristy talks more about her own experience with hiring diversity and what it looks like to incentivize for real progress (39:36). "Until companies, incentivize managers and other employees to act a certain way, I just really will not believe that they really are serious about their diversity inclusion goals."


Also mentioned in this episode: 

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