The energy and enthusiasm that Indi Young brings into her work is electric.
Less than ten minutes into our conversation, Indi has already fired off some key ideas about her new perspectives on inclusion, solutions, and purpose in the design space that have been shaped by her years in UX research and coaching. As a Fluxible alumnus, she’ll be bringing all of this and more to the conference when she takes the stage in June!
More than anything, Indi seems to be an advocate for awareness.
“If we let other people’s perspectives into our mind, we’re way better equipped to start coming up with ideas, ideas for people that we may have ignored before this,” she says.
Being aware and other-oriented is an important part of Indi’s work. As a freelance researcher, coach, writer, and speaker, she certainly has an eye for detail. Organizations have been able to do their research more efficiently and effectively thanks to her work in developing mental models and thinking styles. Her analytical abilities coupled with her aptitude for empathy make her an invaluable asset to those who seek her guidance.
Indi has to be aware of the changes and trends that influence the methods of her field. Though she began in the research sphere, Indi has recently shifted her focus towards teaching and coaching. Many organizations are shifting away from hiring external agencies, building their own internal teams instead. That’s led Indi to reboot her career. She now spends more time helping companies build and improve their newly developed in-house teams through her courses, workshops, and individual training sessions.
“I think that’s why I started teaching: I want other people to keep passing it along, because if the lessons we learn get lost then we have to learn them again as a community, and there’s also new lessons to be learned everywhere,” says Indi.
Her desire to pass on lessons new and old is what introduced her to fellow Fluxible speaker Kunyi Mangalam, who Indi is mentoring this year as she develops her talk for the conference. The two first met years ago when Kunyi heard about Indi’s mental models and reached out. Kunyi then became part of Indi’s early training groups and later began working on a handful of projects with her. The fact that Indi lives in California and Kunyi lives in Nova Scotia hasn’t stopped the two from hanging out whenever they can, first having an impromptu sleepover in New York and now spending time together in June while having a blast at Fluxible!
When asked about working with Kunyi and why she recommended her for Fluxible, Indi says that Kunyi is a warm person who always embraces a challenge. But mostly, she thinks Kunyi has a unique perspective.
“I want other people to hear her voice,” she says.
Indi also appreciates how seriously studious Kunyi is. In a field where so many others are eager to jump to a solution, Kunyi takes the time to learn first.
Indi is likely to find some equally eager learners when she presents at Fluxible in June. Her conference talk will focus on inclusive and purposeful design. Indi wants designers to work with a purpose, not a problem, in mind. She says that purpose “is very easy to find. It’s easy to make into the deliverables that I help organizations with, which are mental model diagrams and thinking styles.”
And as for inclusive design, Indi wants to dive deeper. When we have a purpose in mind, we are better equipped to design with empathy. While focusing on a problem encourages us to glorify a single solution, focusing on purpose encourages us to consider the diverse perspectives of both those we are designing for and those we are designing with. The results of this approach are solutions that can help everyone.
You can also make the most of your time at Fluxible by catching Indi at her Friday workshop, where she’ll dive into techniques designed to help attendees listen empathically and encourage others to speak at depth. “What comes out of it is a much deeper understanding of what’s going through people’s minds as they’re trying to pursue their purpose,” says Indi.
Indi warmly remembers her experiences at Fluxible 2014. She had her palm read by fellow speaker Kelly Goto (who also returns this year!), delivered a hilarious short talk about the mental model of a dog, and experienced the fabled “goat check”, a station designed for snuggling real baby goats that was inspired by a misspelling of “coat check” at a previous Fluxible conference! For each unconventional experience, Indi thought “Ah cool! These are real people!” Though she was surrounded by UX experts and enthusiasts, there was no pressure to be serious and technical all the time.
Catch her at the conference this year and ask her about the research that she has been doing over the past two years about convincing stakeholders of the value of understanding people’s purposes. If that doesn’t pique your interest, you can also ask her about her dad’s fascination with World War II aircraft or the goats she raised as a child (coats not included)!