Notes from Courtney Hemphill

How to Promote Psychological Safety on Your Team

By on in Culture, Everything Else

Psychological Safety is the shared belief that everyone within an organization can take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed. Almost as simple as it sounds – it’s the idea that employees feel safe to do their best work.

When an organization prioritizes psychological safety it creates an environment that also promotes inclusivity. It ensures that everyone from different backgrounds, mindsets, and life experiences can share their thoughts or ideas and not be punished for them. Organizations that are struggling to retain employees or attract new and diverse talent should look at their processes for encouraging employees to take calculated risks without punishment. Continue reading …

Come hang with Carbon Five at Techweek LA

By on in Events

Interested in the current state of tech in LA and meeting key leaders in development, startups, media, fashion and more? Join myself and several Carbon Fivers from our Santa Monica office at Techweek LA, Nov 20-21st to hear from top thought leaders in LA and attend a variety of events and networking opportunities.

Register for the event through our City Partnership and get a 15% discount.

Techweek Los Angeles

Carbon Five will be participating in the judging of the Launch competition and hackathon where we see what next big thing will shape the future of LA and beyond. Interested in competing? Rally your team and apply today!

Techweek LA runs from Nov 20th – 21st in a custom built tent on the Santa Monica pier. Check out the full schedule and contact us if you want to meet up with one of our developers and designers at the event.


Scoot & Doodle Featured in the App Store.

By on in Design, Development, Process

Chris Egy Rose and Patty Chang came to Carbon Five in spring of 2012 with an exciting new concept around facilitating human interaction and connected learning. The idea was to allow young people to connect with their friends, classmates and families through face-to-face interactions and a shared canvas. The interactive canvas overlay allows participants to use simple tools to create and draw with one another. The initial ten-week engagement happily turned into a rewarding long term partnership that shepherded the product and team through many iterations over many months, resulting in an outstanding, feature rich set of products.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 11.17.54 AM

Scoot & Doodle’s Scoodle Jam is featured in the Education section of the app store.

Continue reading …

Connecting and speaking

By on in Events, Process

Mixing Lean UX with Agile Development

Last night I had the opportunity to do a dry run of my talk for the Flowcon conference coming up this November 1st at the Lean UX SF Meetup. The event was hosted at WeWork which has a beautiful office conveniently right around the corner from ours. Thanks to great promotion by Mike Long and Niley Barros, we had a sell-out crowd which at one point resulted in a line out the door. The folks from WeWork and the Flowcon conference, which was sponsoring the Meetup, were incredibly helpful and accommodating and we packed everyone in that we could fit.

Line outsideLine inside

Getting in front of a room that crowded had me battling quite a few nervous jitters but the friendly, enthusiastic faces in the crowd brought a ton of great energy. By the end of the night I realized how inspiring it can be just sharing stories with people about the work that we are all doing. I know that personally it always serves to refocus my efforts and ensure I’m on top of my discipline going into work the next day.

The slides for the talk are up on the Carbon Five Slideshare account:
Mixing Lean UX & Agile Development

Thanks to everyone that came and for all of your questions and helpful feedback. Really excited for the FlowCon conference on November 1st followed up by Balanced Team November 2nd and 3rd.


Join Lane and Courtney in the Big Apple for LeanUX NYC

By on in Design, Development, Process

Join Lane Halley and Courtney Hemphill in NYC April 11th-13th, 2013

Spend some time this spring in Manhattan learning from 25 designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and at least a couple developers at the LeanUX NYC conference. TLC Labs and Lean Startup Machine have partnered with NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Cyrus Innovation to bring you 3 days of talks and workshops that delve into the entire product development lifecycle by accomplished practitioners and leaders in the LeanUX Design community.

Lane Halley (@thinknow) and Courtney Hemphill (@chemphill) will give a talk: “Mixing Lean UX and Agile Development: How to minimize risk, maximize flexibility and create the right product.” and run a workshop: “Conversation, Cadence & Culture: Recipes to Inspire Collaborative Teams.” Grab a ticket soon and come on by, say hi, and join in the conversation!

Disruptive Innovation using Agile Development and Lean UX

By on in Design

Rob Fan, CTO of Sharethrough, recently gave a great talk at the Lean Startup Circle on “Sustaining Disruption: How to Balance Innovation & Early Growth“. Rob spoke about the difference between sustainable and disruptive innovation and the importance of maintaining a balance of both in the progression of a company of any size.

Today’s startups are challenging many traditionally established companies with a healthy dose of disruptive innovation. Larger organizations cannot often effectively respond since it requires diverting resources from their established products, markets and customers. If unable to find ways to continually innovate and improve their offerings, established companies run the risk of flat lining their revenue streams as doing what they already do offers less and less bang for the buck over time.

Continue reading …

Help send Carbon Five to SxSW

By on in Everything Else

The South by Southwest Interactive festival (SxSW) in Austin, TX is a great opportunity for our community to meet and mingle at sessions and social events. Carbon Five has two great proposals this year and we’d like a chance to tell our story. How can you help? First, visit the Panel Picker and register to vote (it’s quick, we promise!) Then search for “Carbon Five,” check out our panels and vote for the ones you’d like to see at South By Southwest. If you want to be extra helpful, please leave a comment and pass the word to your friends via the social media links.

Unicorn Quest: How 3 Teams Blend UX & Dev Skills

User Experience (UX) is a hot topic. It seems that everyone wants to hire people who have skills in UX, visual design and front-end development. Some people call this person a “unicorn.” Do unicorns really exist?

This panel will feature participants from three different companies who build Web and mobile products with small, collaborative teams. Brittany Hunter, (Atomic Object), Courtney Hemphill (Carbon Five) and Jonathan Berger (Pivotal Labs) will share what it takes to work on a team of software generalists jointly responsible for UX, visual design and development.

Lean Forward & Back: Social Video Can Have It All

Can great technology and elegant UX solve the problem of how to fully engage audiences with online video while still providing a “lean back” viewing experience? Or are these two modes of experiencing media forever incompatible? Come find out as we look at the case study of OVEE, the Online Video Engagement Experience, a one-of-its-kind social screening platform created by the Independent Television Service in partnership with software development agency, Carbon Five. OVEE was created to meet the challenges of presenting high quality film and television content, and building a unique real-time engagement experience around it for teachers, public television viewers, community organizers and dedicated fans. Meet the lead developer and lead strategist who have committed to this search for the holy grail of online video experiences.

Thanks again for your help, and we hope to see some of you at SxSW!

Carbon Five Visual Metaphors, Interactive Skill and Interest Map

By on in Design

We recently recognized the abundance of blank wall space here at Carbon Five and in an effort to both stretch our creative muscles and give a little love to our daily visual experience at work, we came up with some ideas for ways to overtake one particular wall and engage in a rotating series of experiments depicting Carbon Five using visual metaphors.

Our first idea came from a desire to facilitate internal sharing of skills and interests within Carbon Five and find some cool ways to map that out in a visual manner. So, just prior to our holiday party and just after our design bootcamp, we grabbed everyone in an exercise to capture a snapshot of our company knowledge and interests.

Our thesis was that sharing skills and interests amongst each other would build better communication and help identify future paths for us to explore. We were hopeful this would produce a visual map of where the company is now, where it can go, where the gaps are and how we can collaborate to fill some of those gaps. This is how we went about it; if you are interested in trying it out as well let us know how it goes.

1.) Identify the main core competencies and skills relevant to your work and interests and print each of these onto paper circles. You can then distribute these on a large blank wall in any kind of loose configuration or a predetermined one based on some set of gradients or axis. Our distribution of these was vertically rather random but moved from left to right in a loose gradient of client facing/creative to technical/back end skills.

2.) Gather together as many different colored slips of paper (we used paint chips liberated from a big box home improvement store) in two hues per distinct color. Write on the lighter hue (I) for interest and (S) for skill on the darker color.

2.) Isolate some time in a casual environment (beer thirty?) and hand out to each participant a set of colored cards (we used 10), half of which are the lighter hue and represent interest and the other half  are the darker skill set.

3.) Have each member write their name on their color chips and place a skill chip next to a competency that they feel themselves to be an expert in. We generally gave the guideline of a skill as being a domain in which you would be comfortable having others ask you a question in and you wouldn’t have to look up the answer. After placing their skill chips they can then add an interest chip next to any domain that they want to pursue proactively.

4.) If you are missing any capabilities from the original set, give users additional circles to write down their own custom skills and add those in to their appropriate place.

Outcome and Analysis
It seemed that most everyone was able to identify their core expertise with just the 5 chips. There ended up being quite a few detailed competencies that people wanted to add in, “Jumping” being a notable one and for those of smaller stature, an impossible interest to mark.

Visually the colors were quite aesthetic but the diversity made it difficult to draw out any kind of aggregate patterns of skill versus interest. You could easily discern clusters of trends towards certain capacities and gaps in both our interest and skill in others.

There was definitely a perceptible interest in subjects outside of our current skill set which alone makes the exercise very worthwhile and informative. One discovery we made on the fly was when some people put both an interest and a skill chip on a single domain; we called those “passions”.

The data itself has shown some intriguing possibilities for different visualization treatments which we are now developing into a pretty cool interactive infographic. We’ll post a follow-up soon with the fruits of our labor.