Category : Design Management

Reworking Basecamp with PlannerX

For years now, KA+A has been using 37Signals’s Basecamp product to manage our projects and improve collaboration with our clients. On several occasions a colleague or client has even asked me to share how we’ve successfully implemented Basecamp, and how it might work for them. Which is why today, I want to share with you a great tool I’ve found to improve the way we use Basecamp.

With the advent of a particularly complex project, I began to have my doubts that Basecamp could handle it. The need for Gantt charts was especially desired, so that I could get a good handle on where each task was taking place in time and space. Fortunately Basecamp has a large following, so there’s a plethora of third party companies…

SXSW: Achieving a Pain-free Design Handoff

Whether a client or a designer, many of us have been through a not so ideal web site design situation, resulting in a frankenstein web site no one likes, and an uncomfortable void of silence. We know how it got that way – but how we can we prevent it from happening again?

Paul Boag of Headscape presented some best practices that keeps his team moving through these projects, and ultimately achieving satisfaction for both the client and the designers.

What’s his secret? Collaboration not confrontation.

1. Ensure everyone understands their role in the project.
The client’s job is to find the problems and the designer’s job is to find the solutions. If this breaks down, because the client is presenting solutions (i.e. make the…

Tools of Brand Design and Works of Art


Lists help us stay sane, organized, and get projects done – yet they don’t get much honor in the end. However, from November, 7, 2009 to February 8, 2010, lists are basking in the limelight at the Louvre, thanks to Umberto Eco and his exhibition “Mille e tre” (the Infinity of Lists). Including ancient and contemporary graphic works, and multidisciplinary events, the exhibition traces the evolution of the list through history. “From its ancient use in funerary traditions to its present-day use in everyday life, via the creative processes of contemporary artists, the list is a vehicle for cultural codes and the bearer of different messages.” (Louvre)

I recently read an interview with Umberto Eco…

Bigger Ideas Conference Video Available

The gang over at SmallerIndiana, have posted all of the video content from the Bigger Ideas Conference. If you missed the event, head on over here, to catch-up on what you missed out on.

Kristian Andersen from Smaller Indiana, Bigger Ideas on Vimeo.…

The Essence of Leadership


While at college, I’ve had many opportunities to develop, and redevelop, my own understanding of what it means to be a leader. Through example, observation, exposure, defining, reading, questioning, exploring, researching, and listening, I’ve documented several key components that can help curate a person’s character for optimum lead-ability.

A very pivotal event happened during one semester that has helped shape my identity as well as my desire to lead. As the year began, our class was split into groups of 6. Our goal as a group was to efficiently work together to solve real-world problems with realistic solutions. Among my team were two very dominant and assertive individuals, two somewhat dominant and assertive individuals, and two not so dominant or assertive individuals. We started…

Web 2.0 & The Future of Software Panel at Camp Hern 2009

This weekend, I had the opportunity to moderate (which is a bit of a stretch) a panel discussion on Web 2.0 and the future of software development at Camp Hern. Camp Hern is an informal gathering of mid-career executives and seasoned business leaders that takes place in various locales every year. This year’s event took place from August 28-30 in Chicago, IL.

Our expert panelists for the discussion were Jason Fried, of 37 Signals (developer of BaseCamp), and Chris Baggott, of Compendium Blogware (and one of the founders of ExactTarget).  The discussion was highly interactive and felt a lot more like a casual conversation, rather than a typical panel discussion. We gathered around an outdoor fireplace, at our host’s home…

We Got Fired & You Can Too!

You're Fired!

Recently we were informed by a client, with whom we had been working for several months, that they were moving their account to a design shop, located in a very large city on the east coast. It wasn’t ugly or contentious, there were no angry words, or overt slights – it was all quite civilized. But that didn’t temper the sting of rejection. This particular relationship was, by our standards, extremely short-lived. Of course, we’ve had client relationships die slow deaths of attrition. It’s a fundamental law that in this profession, client/agency relationships will come and go… and oftentimes come back again. But this experience was something all together different. The terminus of a less than ideal working relationship typically…

The Role of Brand Experience Design in Start-Ups

At Kristian Andersen + Associates we bill ourselves as a brand experience design consultancy. This is a pretty nebulous way of trying to package a handful of distinct, yet deeply connected, disciplines into one cogent, tightly-edited description of our services. As we continue to refine our offerings to clients and partners, we also continue to struggle with how best to articulate those offerings. Ultimately, our mission is to help technology-focused start-ups (and growth-oriented companies) become more successful. The reality of what we do at a high-level is really quite straight-forward.

We help our clients develop their brands and design brand experiences that support the growth of those brands.

This all seems simple enough at first blush, but things start to get complicated when you begin to…

The Role of Trust in Building a Great Design Partnership

Have you ever been involved in a client engagement where you felt that you just couldn’t get through? Where mediocre work kept bubbling to the top and the most compelling ideas kept landing on the cutting room floor. Where in spite of you and your team’s best efforts, you just couldn’t seem to get the client to rally around and support your recommendations. We’ll you’re certainly not alone, since time immemorial practitioners in the creative services industry have struggled with spending more time defending their work, than creating it.

A lasting (and successful) business relationship between a design consultancy and a client is built on many things, including: great communication, mutual respect, and shared vision and goals. Of all of the elements that coalesce to form a great partnership however…

Letters From Leaders

Henry Dormann has compiled an interesting book of Letters From Leaders. Or as he calls it “Personal advice for tomorrows leaders from the World’s most influential people”. A heady title to be sure – but definitely worth a look (see below).

My favorite:

“Be conscientious. A true leader pays attention to the details. So sweat the small stuff.”
Howard J. Rubenstein (President,Rubenstein Associates, Inc.)
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