July 25-27, 2018 / Vancouver, BC

An Interview with Ron Bronson

Written by Shannon Fisher

March 15, 2017

Steve chats with Ron Bronson about his upcoming talk, Discovery and Micro Interactions and how to improve our product design toolbox. We hear a little more about what Ron is up to with Indiana Design Week, municipal government work, and of course, more about his love for Finnish baseball. As always, fun times are had catching up with Ron.

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Transcript

Steve
Well hi, we're back for another interview for the Design & Content Conference. Today I'm in a slightly different setting in Calgary Alberta, not in Vancouver today, but we're still going to talk all about Vancouver and we're here to hear from Ron Bronson. Ron why don't you introduce yourself again to everyone. You're a returning speaker and let em know a little bit about yourself.

Ron
Yeah, I'm Ron Bronson and I'm excited to come back and I am a Strategist and Speaker and person focused a lot on service design and realistic experiences in how we create experiences that reflect peoples' everyday lives. I guess probably the best way to explain things right now. I have my own little outfit called Starship that I run and also do some services and work for the city of Wheaton where I currently live.

Steve
That's excellent. Municipal work, I personally love municipal work.

Ron
It's very special. It's special kind of project.

Steve
Well it is. You know I actually find it pretty gratifying at times too because you are providing services and helping people, service all the people that are involved with the city which is a lot.

Ron
That's why I wanted to do it, yeah.

Steve
Why don't you tell us a little bit about some of the things you're up to. Maybe some things that you're passionate about currently, love to hear about that.

Ron
What am I up to these days? I am trying to figure out all the things I'm up to these days. I am really passionate about products and not about necessarily buying products, but how they make products, about experiences and thinking about things like you go to the supermarket and it says one price, but then when you go buy it, it ends up being something different. It always seemed like a really silly thing to care about, but these are the kinds of things that vex ordinary peoples' lives on a regular basis. I feel as designers the things we don't really think about enough. We certainly don't talk about them at all. I am on the board of Indiana Design Week, which doesn't exist yet. We're making it this year and it's just a whole event about you don't live in Silicon Valley you think a lot about how we interact with products and how we make, do things, do work online. Lots of cool things that are happening in other cities, other places and showcasing that talent and how sometimes because you don't have a critical mass, getting people to bring you people from all over, like in a particular place together, so I've been really evangelizing that a lot this year. I think that's all. There's other stuff I'm sure, but I'm really big into Finnish baseball. But I don't think anybody wants to hear about that at the conference, but if they do, they know where to find me. I will tell you all about Finnish baseball.

Steve
Well, maybe you'll bring it up at the conference. I've seen you confess about that on Instagram and other places.

Ron
Yes, yes.

Steve
You're actually coming to talk to us a little bit about what you were just mentioning, you're talk is titled, "Discovery and Micro Interactions: Improving the Product Toolbox." Love to hear a little bit more about your talk. What can people expect and what are you going to be sharing?

Ron
Well, what can they expect with me, so who knows? It's like with me it's like going to the potluck friends, I just don't know. There are so many things that could happen. Chose what you're gonna get, chose your own adventure, but I'm really excited about this and I'm really excited this opportunity to talk about this because what I'm talking about is is what about all the things between when we start something and when we launch it. I feel like there are so many conversations that happen in our organizations that we don't ... And I wonder a lot when you see something that you get made, and you go, okay what were we thinking when this happened? That was sort of a preface of my question last year. I started my talk with that, but I'm coming back to that because I feel like we didn't, I didn't really get great answers from people about it. When we think about those questions and then the outcomes of products whether you go on Twitter or you use a tool and you figure out that people who are using these tools, who are like ... Who see five really obvious flaws the things that we've built or really obvious, obvious to them. Issues with the way that our tools are made or we interact with them and I wonder is it because of bureaucracy? Is it because of the assumptions? Is it because our teams aren't diverse enough? Is it about that we thought the product was one thing and people thought that ... We thought that they'd interact with it a different way and it turns out that they're not going to do that. Confronting based on my research, based on the work I've been doing, talking to other folks, figuring about what peoples answers are to some of those things and then maybe looking at some frameworks or some artifacts in different ways that we can mitigate some of those issues, so that people don't run into those problems as much. It's gonna happen, but to try to head off some of those challenges organizationally before, before the product launches, not after we've already done it. Not that you can't fix, in VP I did all that, but I think a lot of these questions are so central to the product themselves, and you don't often get to come back to it because talking about everyday types of things too, not necessarily the next cool, your next Facebook clone or something like that. I'm talking about everyday types of products that in fact impact lots of different people. So, that's all in a nutshell. That's it.

Steve
That sounds really, really great. Like I said earlier, we're excited you're coming back to Vancouver and love to know is there anything that you're wanting to see or do or what are some of the things about Vancouver that you're excited about?

Ron
Well, the last time I was there, I was hanging out with you guys and I was promised a Pokeman Go tutorial and I didn't get it, so it's actually why I wanted to come back to Vancouver, but that's actually not it. The other reason I'm coming back is manage to switch food. I didn't eat nearly enough in Vancouver last time, I just kind of came in and got out, but I made a vow to myself this year that I was gonna spend some significant time ... I don't even know where I'm gonna eat, I just wanna eat my way around town. That's pretty much what's gonna happen for me. I'm really excited about that. I'm excited to see the city again and just walk around. I did that last time. You left the hotel, went out and went for a walk, looked around town, it's just such a safe place and just really enjoyed being able to be out, really good weather and just taking it all in. So I'm really excited come back and do that again, but this time with more familiarity then even last year when I was there.

Steve
That's great and last year Dave Chey jumped in and offered a few recommendations. This year we're kind of formalizing that and he's going to be sharing across best pubs to go to, sushi places, restaurants, bars, things to see. He's one of, I would consider, the local experts on that and so he's kind of going to be our tour guide ahead of time.

Ron
That's excellent.

Steve
Really excited that you're coming back, Ron and thanks for taking time today to talk with us again.

Ron
Thanks for having me. Cant' wait to be in Vancouver this year.