Lyft's VP of Design Katie Dill on helping others unlock their potential
Lyft’s VP of Design, Katie Dill, joins us on Overtime to talk about her path as a designer, why she loves being a design manager and learning to speak a new language when it comes to recognizing designers on your team.
We also chat about Lyft’s vision for the future, redesigning Lyft’s passenger app, using storyboards as a design tool, and of course the pink mustache.
This episode is brought to you by Wix. Push the limits of design and start creating beautiful, impactful websites that are uniquely yours at wix.com/dribbble.
Links mentioned on Overtime
- Katie on Twitter
- Katie’s instagram post
- To show recognition, try speaking a different language
- Lyft on Dribbble
- Lyft’s Design Team on Twitter
Dan Cederholm: All right, welcome to Overtime, Katie Dill.
Katie Dill: Thanks so much. Good to be here.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, it’s a pleasure having you here and I’m excited to talk about all the stuff. I’ve got a crazy bullet list of things here.
Dan Cederholm: It’s funny, I’m gonna start off with your latest Instagram post because …
Katie Dill: I’m like what did I post? Uh oh.
Dan Cederholm: Right, right. Yeah. No, don’t worry. It’s a really good one. It’s actually an amazing photo of a redwood tree with a John Steinbeck quote that I had not heard before about how it’s impossible to paint a redwood.
Dan Cederholm: Anyway, I just wanted to mention this because I live in New England but I visited redwoods and they are incredible. But I just wondered what the story behind that.
Katie Dill: Yeah. Very lucky to live in northern California where I guess it’s sort of in the middle. San Francisco and redwood trees, actually, I can go about 200 yards from my house and be sitting next to redwoods.
Katie Dill: I live in the Presidio in San Francisco and then of course, love getting away to Tahoe and Muir Woods. There’s just all these fantastic places north, south, east, and west and I’m just particularly taken by the redwoods.
Katie Dill: There’s just something so strangely and uniquely peaceful about them, just- They knock you speechless when you first look at them because they sit so quietly but they have a commanding presence for sure.
Katie Dill: The more you learn about them, the more interesting they are. Just the way that in some ways they repel fire and they can live through things that have taken California by storm numerous times as we all know, including right now.
Katie Dill: They have become an anchor for a lot of California lives. Yeah, they’re pretty special.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, it’s so cool and they are, they’re giant. You’re in the Bay Area and you’re currently VP of Design at Lyft.
Katie Dill: That’s right. Yes.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah.
Katie Dill: Been there for about a year now.
Dan Cederholm: Awesome. We’re gonna get into some things regarding Lyft and the new passenger app and design and stuff. But I wonder how, starting at the beginning maybe, how you got into design because before Lyft you were, I believe, at Airbnb, right?
Katie Dill: That’s right. I was at Airbnb for about four years and then came over to Lyft some time around last October.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, how did you get to design? I think your path was interesting and I wonder if you could share it.
Katie Dill: Well, I’m a part of the generation of designers that often grew up without design as a common profession. I went to college in upstate New York at a liberal arts school called Colgate University.
Katie Dill: I studied history because I just wanted to know why things are the way they are and I had never even heard of design other than interior design or fashion design. It just hadn’t occurred to me that that was a profession.
Katie Dill: I had graduated college. Of course as a history major there’s not a ton of different jobs available to you but I also knew I didn’t wanna be a historian. I knew that there were more things ahead of me that I had yet to explore.
Katie Dill: I actually thought I wanted to be an architect. While I was studying abroad in Florence when I was in college, I just fell in love with architecture and thought that might be what I would pursue.
Katie Dill: But when I was exploring that avenue while living in Boston, I started to realize by talking to a lot of different architects that it was probably not the right job for me.
Katie Dill: There were so many wonderful things about it, but one of the things that was kind of consistent with every single person I talked to is their frustrations with just how long things take.
Katie Dill: Frankly, between you, me, and everybody that’s listening, I’m a pretty impatient person so it became clear that that was probably not the route for me. At the same exact time, I was very fortunate that a roommate of mine had seen the IDEO Making the Shopping Cart 60 Minutes special.
Dan Cederholm: Oh wow.
Katie Dill: Yeah. A lot of folks that I’ve heard in the design industry, that was their first learning of product design and I’m one of them. That kind of was just eye opening.
Katie Dill: It’s like wow, there’s this job that people have that seems to be exactly what I love to do. I just never knew it was a job. Then, started to talk to product designers, started to figure out how do I go and do that?
Katie Dill: Of course, all of them said, “Lovely that you have a history degree, but you’re gonna need a lot more than that”, recommended I go back to school, so I went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and got a second Bachelor’s.
Katie Dill: I studied Industrial Design and never looked back. Best choice I’ve ever made, including moving over to the west coast. It’s a lovely place.
Dan Cederholm: Wow. That’s interesting because I would think that there are a lot of similarities between architecture, for instance, and product design for the web and stuff. Would I be accurate there?
Katie Dill: Yeah. I mean, I never really truly pursued architecture, so I guess I can’t speak too thoughtfully about it. But, I would say that there are definitely, in all functions of design, there are a lot of similarities.
Katie Dill: In many ways, design is, it’s a process for bringing intention to decisions and- An architect might be looking at something at the scale of a building and an industrial designer might be looking at something the scale of a blender or a transportation designer, a car. A digital designer, a website.
Katie Dill: But any one of these things, although they’re extremely different, of course there’s a step to that process. You work at different levels of fidelity as you get further in and you prototype and you iterate. Any one of those will adopt a lot of the same methods.
Katie Dill: Actually, I find when we hire onto the design team, for example, we have folks who have formerly been architects or formerly been historians or formerly have been anthropologists.
Katie Dill: They bring really unique things to the process, but they also have a lot of commonality in the way they approach things that help them get into this type of work more easily.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah. That’s interesting. I like what you said about design being an intention, right?
Katie Dill: Yeah.
Dan Cederholm: I think, it’s funny. There’s the ongoing debate about design versus art. Is art design and vice versa or whatever? Let me get your take on that. Would you consider art design or vice versa?
Katie Dill: Hmm, yeah. I think design is an art but I wouldn’t say all art is design.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah.
Katie Dill: I think with design and to the point of, as I mentioned earlier, intention, to me that’s really what design is. It’s bringing intention to something and I wouldn’t say that all design is good.
Katie Dill: Sometimes your intention is wrong. Sometimes your intention is not based on true insight or you make assumptions that are inaccurate or you have bad taste.
Katie Dill: But the intention is well, I want this can to be easy to hold. I want this website to be something that helps people move through it.
Katie Dill: The design work is the series of decisions that you have to make in order to fulfill that intention. I don’t think that means that designers own that explicitly.
Katie Dill: I think designers are trained to do that well, either through apprenticeship or through schooling but it doesn’t mean that we’re the only ones who can bring intention to these ideas.
Katie Dill: I think artists have an intention to themselves as well. I think, a lot of times, the intention might be to invoke a feeling, express an emotion, whereas product design, for example, usually our intention is to solve a problem.
Katie Dill: That’s where they end up deferring but I wouldn’t say that there isn’t an art to what we do.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah. I agree, totally. I think there is art in design. I don’t know why we’re arguing about that as much. You’re currently at Lyft, the VP of Design there, which is super cool.
Dan Cederholm: I know you guys have just launched a redesign of the passenger app. I wonder if you could share a little bit about that, the process and kind of how you’re involved and how the team, maybe how the team is structured there at Lyft.
Dan Cederholm: I guess that’s a pretty huge project, right? That’s kind of the center of the company, right?
Katie Dill: Yeah. There is definitely a lot that goes into it. It is a big undertaking. Having now been a part of a few product redos, I can also speak to the fact that these things are never done lightly.
Katie Dill: It is a big effort. It’s a company wide effort. It’s an exciting piece of work, but it’s no easy task for sure. What I mean by the two is that when I joined Airbnb, we were just in the midst of our rebrand.
Katie Dill: I joined the company and they had already had the new logo and the new typography system and color system. But it hadn’t yet been applied to the product. I joined while we were essentially redoing every single pixel across every digital property and every physical thing as well.
Katie Dill: Then of course with Lyft, I joined and similarly they were actually in the middle of this passenger app redo and with the passenger app redo at Lyft, it was also when we were introducing a design system for the first time.
Katie Dill: Before that, Lyft, like other companies, it’s like okay, there’s a style guide. Hey, use this button, not that button. But we didn’t have a sophisticated design system, so we were taking this opportunity to launch it.
Katie Dill: I do recommend to folks that are looking at bringing out a design system in their company, it is very helpful to pair it with a redesign. Otherwise, it’s really hard to get that actually brought out into real life.
Katie Dill: You can create a bunch of components but when is anybody going to update the product to bring it to that? You do like to tie these two bodies of work together. But I would also say, by tying them together, it gets pretty complicated.
Dan Cederholm: It’s funny applying a system retroactively, it would seem like it’d be really hard and maybe not as fun, either. I’m thinking of Dribbble for instance, we didn’t have a system because it was just me initially.
Dan Cederholm: I guess it was in my head, but now it’s a bigger team and I could see- Yeah, it makes more sense to couple that with an overhaul of the UI, for instance, rather than going back and trying to document a system that might be there, sort of.
Katie Dill: Yeah. I tell a story of- A hypothetical scenario, one that I hadn’t experience. But, imagine you just wanted to do a design system and that nobody else wanted to redo anything about the app or your website.
Katie Dill: You’re just like, let’s no componentize. Then, you get some people in a room and they try to come up with this design system but they’re basically looking at everything that exists today and try to componentize it.
Katie Dill: You’re not really able to make an improvement on what it is today. Then, if they try to make an improvement on what it is today and change things potentially, then of course, that requires quite a bit of work in order to identify what is this new thing gonna be.
Katie Dill: If it’s disassociated from any actual work, you’re basically making a design system in a vacuum. Design systems done outside of the actual work of oftentimes pure fiction until you actually do apply them into the product.
Katie Dill: For example, you might come up with okay, we’re gonna have these row items and this is gonna be what it looks like when you can have a button next to an icon and this is what it’s gonna look like when you have detailed information.
Katie Dill: Then, you just do that completely in a silo and then by the time you would try to bring it to the product, it’s like, well, actually, we never need those instances. Or when we do, it needs to do these two other things as well.
Katie Dill: It’s really helpful to be responsible for the product as well at that time or that area of the product, the features, because once you have the understanding of what are the goals of the features, you’re gonna do a much better job actually articulating components that really work to achieve those goals.
Katie Dill: I hear you guys separating them and it’s like, sometimes it’s less complicated but you just end up taking yourself more time anyway because you’ve gotta find that information eventually.
Dan Cederholm: In regards to the Lyft app specifically, did you find that as these things are happening together, was it a back and forth type thing? Or does it come up with the design for a certain part of the app and then go back and make components out of that? Wondering how the process worked there.
Katie Dill: Yeah, what the team was doing was essentially looking at the passenger app. Let’s take a blank slate approach. How could we do this differently?
Katie Dill: Literally, we were looking at anything. What if you completely changed the flow? You ask instead of this question and then that one, you switch ‘em and you don’t even ask that one or you first offer them five options and then they can whittle it down.
Katie Dill: We tried everything. Flip it all around. With the Lyft service and, in fact, that is what the new app does is it changes it quite a bit. The Lyft service app used to ask you first, where are you? Then it would offer you different ride types and then ask you where you were going.
Katie Dill: That’s good because the one thing you usually know really well or have an understanding of is this is where I’m standing. But the problem with that is that if we ask you that first, the ride types that we offer you- Do you want a bike, a scooter, a train, a car, a shared ride?
Katie Dill: They might not be the right ones for where you’re actually going because you might be going really far, you might be going really close. We found that that actually was making it take longer for the person to get the information they need and meant that we weren’t making this easy on them.
Katie Dill: We did reverse that in our new design. Now, we ask you first where are you going? Because we can pretty much assume where you are. Most of the time we know that because of the GPS location.
Katie Dill: We can save you that trouble. If you tell us where you’re going, we can immediately give you your ride options that are appropriate for where you’re likely standing and where you wanna go.
Katie Dill: We do confirm where you are because sometimes you might wanna get picked up on the other side of the street corner, whatever it is of course.
Katie Dill: But that switch was, it’s a big undertaking, it causes a lot of rework, but it was absolutely a win for the passengers and just an improved experience. While we’re thinking of all that and we’re rebuilding and architecting, we were also thinking of the componentry and the styling and what typography and the white space and how are we going to surface this information and how are we gonna stylize these choices?
Katie Dill: Then the real, the brainteaser of course is then imagine what’s gonna happen with this choice of style or this row item or this button and how is it going to actually work across all other aspects of the product, not just the one that we’re actually setting out to redesign at that moment.
Katie Dill: That’s where, that’s why it becomes such heavy work and that’s why these kinds of redesigns do require full buy-in from your company and your leaders because while it was the passenger team that was redesigning this and owning this work, it’s gonna be the driver team and the growth team and the enterprise team that are going to help to really bring this thing to light across all other areas of the product.
Katie Dill: Now, we’ve got new button styles, new row styles, new components to use elsewhere. Hopefully with the introduction of the design system, it makes it easier for folks to build in the future. But it’s gonna take some time to first bring that system to light across all aspects.
Dan Cederholm: That’s awesome to hear. Did Lyft take advantage of user testing or any surveys based on- I imagine there’s a lot of data, there’s an enormous amount of data you have available to go on and I wonder how that played a role.
Katie Dill: Yes. Research and data are integral parts of the process at all stages. For example, when we’re first setting out, what are the problems with the current product?
Katie Dill: What do people want to do that we’re not helping them do? Then, as we’re going through our design iterations, bringing in people to take a look at things, going out into the field, going to different cities to get a different perspective.
Katie Dill: Showing them prototypes or kind of getting their reaction to things that we’ve tried. We definitely get creative with how we integrate research because we’re a growing team but back a year ago, we were almost half the size we are now, so it was challenging to get the coverage we need to get a perspective from people in all different walks of life.
Katie Dill: We use a lot of digital tools to be able to survey and learn from people and get the product in front of them no matter where they are. That becomes invaluable because a lot of our assumptions-
Katie Dill: We had some really cool ideas that we thought this is awesome and this is gonna be so great. It’s so fast, you can do this out of the corner of your eye. Then, what we learned is just actually, it’s not that clear for people.
Katie Dill: Our product is something that is a habit forming product. You use it a lot, but we also, we’re onboarding so many new people everyday as people become more and more interested in ride sharing.
Katie Dill: We have new people starting on our product everyday. It’s not okay for us to make it, well it’s a feature that’s discoverable, right? It actually has to be really intuitive from somebody who uses our product two times, three times a day to somebody who’s never seen it before.
Katie Dill: Research helps us get out of our own way in that regard.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, I can imagine. I miss the pink mustache. Was that there when you came on board? I can’t remember … I was just fascinated by it. The first time I saw it on a car in San Francisco, for instance …
Katie Dill: Yeah. I love the pink mustache as well.
Dan Cederholm: Please don’t ask about this, but-
Katie Dill: No, I think we all love the pink mustache and it’s a part of our heritage, it definitely captures something about the personality for sure.
Katie Dill: We don’t look back though and I don’t think we’re seeing a need for it now. I think the pink mustache, in many ways, was a really powerful symbol of this is a friendly service. This is a service that kind of piques your interest and tells a story.
Katie Dill: There’s individuality and uniqueness and fun here. But I think what wasn’t told by that mustache was also this is a sophisticated service, this is highly intelligent, it’s trusted, and we know that that wasn’t coming through with that symbol.
Katie Dill: That’s where our updates to our styling and our marketing and our design system was just so powerful is that, we’re a large and serious company now. We want our language to explain that as well, because people trust us and we want to make sure that they can see the information they need and see that this app and this service and this online offline experience that they have is one that’s really well thought through and the details are all thought out.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, that makes good sense. It’s like one of those things that seemed to work really well for recognition too early on. Just a curiosity thing, too. What is that? What is the pink mustache on a car?
Katie Dill: Exactly.
Dan Cederholm: Now, Lyft is so large and well-used that it’s probably not necessary either.
Katie Dill: Right. If you think about these marketing, you’re striking up a conversation and the pink mustache was like, “Hey, we’re here!” You’re like, oh, who’s this? The next is like, well, now we’ve got your attention, we wanna keep it.
Katie Dill: The next part is you’re curious about, what are you gonna do for me? Can I trust you to get me to work on time? That’s our language now is making sure that that part is clear.
Dan Cederholm: I wonder, too, you wrote a really interesting article about recognition within teams and how to show recognition for folks on your team that are doing a great job. I thought it was really interesting and I wonder if this was something that you’re actively doing there at Lyft and if you could talk a little bit about what you expressed in the article? Something you came up with that’s based on the five love languages, right?
Katie Dill: Yeah.
Dan Cederholm: Which I thought was really cool. Anyway, I’ll let you explain.
Katie Dill: Yeah. The Five Love Languages is a great book. I highly recommend it to anyone, not just folks in couples. It talks about basically we live along side each other and sometimes one might feel like my partner doesn’t give me what I’m looking for as much.
Katie Dill: They’re not expressing love to me. What this book is talking about is just like, well, you might have a different language for what you consider expressing love versus what they do. Basically, you’re just talking past each other.
Katie Dill: I started to realize that that is what also happens in the workplace. You might consider yourself a fantastic manager and you go out of your way to make sure that people know when you appreciate them and the great work that they’re doing.
Katie Dill: You’re tapping yourself on the back thinking I’ve done a great job here. Then at the same time, you might hear from the same person and see that they feel like they’re never recognized.
Katie Dill: It’s that moment where you realize, they’re perhaps seeking something else. You might have thought just giving them a pay raise was enough, but they actually might find that hearing encouraging words from you matters way more than their salary.
Katie Dill: Or just the autonomy to take on a project on their own without so much leadership oversight is what they’ve been craving and not tangible salary benefits.
Katie Dill: You really do gotta just dig into that a little bit, because basically we’re all different and we all speak a slightly different language and it’s totally fine that we do, but if we understand what the other person’s preferences are, we can better cater our conversations so that they can resonate more.
Katie Dill: In the article, what I’m kind of laying out is I compare it to the five languages and I offer a recommendation of what these five languages are in the workplace. Things like encouraging rewards, further autonomy, visible impact, et cetera.
Katie Dill: And explain what each of those things are and how you might see that want in the people on your team. I also do try to make the point that people want all of these things, probably, but in different amounts.
Katie Dill: I think the key is trying to understand what are the things that are the primary drivers and motivations for folks and that will help you understand how to really drive home your messaging when you’re trying to provide recognition, appreciation, and encouragement to your team, which I think hopefully all managers know is a really important part of getting a team excited and driving towards the right things and frankly, just fulfillment in their job.
Katie Dill: We all wanna know we’re doing the right things and we need to hear that from our peers and our managers.
Dan Cederholm: Do you basically look at the people on your team and say- Do you come out and ask them, actually, how do you like recognition? How do you go about finding out which one or which ones they appreciate more?
Katie Dill: Yeah. I think it’s totally fine to have a real frank conversation about it, that’s like, hey- Even I have folks that have told me, “I shared this article with my direct reports and then we had a follow-up conversation after they got to read it”.
Katie Dill: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting to your direct report, hey, I wanna do right by you and I really wanna understand how you wanna work together. I think saying that helps.
Katie Dill: But I will admit, I think it’s a hard question to answer. Somebody says, “How do you like to be recognized?” You’ll probably be like, early and often! You know? That’s what everybody says.
Katie Dill: I think it does help and this is kind of just like what you would say in user research, is don’t ask them what you want the product to be. Ask them about a story. Have them tell their experience, tell what they have seen in the past and how that made them feel.
Katie Dill: I would often ask, tell me a time when you felt recognized for your work. They might choose a story where you can pull out from that story what they’re talking about here is public recognition.
Katie Dill: They really liked to have their name in lights and people to get up and applaud about them. That’s useful information. Or they might talk about I got my dream project because I did well on that other thing.
Katie Dill: Okay, so you like visible impact and further autonomy. All right. It comes out better through a story, but I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with just being very blunt that this is something you wanna understand.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, yeah. That’s great. No, that’s great advice actually. Instead of just coming right out and asking. I think, yeah, it could work but I could see it getting a little weird depending on the person.
Katie Dill: Right. People don’t usually wanna admit money is what matters to me.
Dan Cederholm: If that was the top one and you felt uncomfortable saying it, right? In fact, it’s funny because I was reading the article and it reminded me of a scene in Mad Men, which I don’t know, have you watched Mad Men?
Katie Dill: Oh, yeah.
Dan Cederholm: Don and Peggy, right? Is it Peggy?
Katie Dill: Yep.
Dan Cederholm: Don and Peggy are having this heated argument in his office as usual and she’s feeling like not recognized because he’s kind of a jerk as a boss anyway.
Dan Cederholm: He’s a jerk, but at the same time, she doesn’t know it, I think, that he appreciates her and respects her and she basically asks him outright and he’s like, “Well, that’s what the money’s for!”
Dan Cederholm: Basically that he’s paying her a certain amount and he thinks that that’s enough of a recognition, I guess. Obviously, you said it right from the start, obviously that’s not always the case.
Katie Dill: Yeah, not for everyone. I definitely, I had a few instances just with the different types of folks that I have had the pleasure of managing over the last years.
Katie Dill: I think I’ve probably managed maybe 75 different people and every one of them got something slightly different about what they are looking for and how they like to work together.
Katie Dill: One of them that kinda got me the most was they told me that they weren’t interested in career progression. They weren’t interested in different titling. They weren’t interested in making more money. They weren’t interested in making more kind of autonomy or responsibility.
Katie Dill: This happened relatively early on in my management career and I was definitely thrown for a loop. because it’s like, what then? How do you get them excited and motivated for their work? What drives them?
Katie Dill: It was a conversation or many conversations that it took to learn that and find what really drove them. As a manager, once you know that, you can help to bring that out in their work and help them find that because you ask a lot of people, ask a lot from people.
Katie Dill: Every one of us is driven by something and it can be tough within your work to sometimes see that first hand and if you have your manager also helping you look out for those things and find areas to achieve your goals, then you have a much better shot of getting there.
Katie Dill: I also would recommend, even if your manager doesn’t read this article and isn’t thinking this way, shouldn’t stop you from just going up to them and telling them. Hey, I don’t really care about this, this, and this, but I really do care about these things. Help me find that.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, I think that’s great advice. I really do. To switch gears completely, I guess a little bit, at Airbnb, you talked a little bit about this, about using stories and story boarding for user experience design.
Dan Cederholm: I thought that was really interesting and I wonder if we could touch on that a little bit as well. I wonder if you continue to use that with your work at Lyft, for instance.
Katie Dill: Yeah. I think storyboards are a really, really powerful tool and I’d say I’ve been using storyboards as a part of the design process since I learned design at Art Center.
Katie Dill: We at product design, where I was for five years, it was probably a key part of 90% of the programs that we worked on because it’s illuminating for people and organizations to understand what it is that they’re creating for people.
Katie Dill: I know most folks are busy in their businesses sit down to try to understand it, the best they do is bulleted lists or boxes and arrows and unfortunately, that doesn’t really tell the story of what is a user going through.
Katie Dill: Storyboards, it helps you understand the emotional journey and the context of what people are going through when they experience you product. Are they carrying shopping bags while they’re moving around and they’re also trying to use their phone all at the same time while you’re trying to send them something.
Katie Dill: What are they going through? Because if you do know that, you’ll have a much better shot of really understanding how are you helping them? How are you getting in the way? Where are their opportunities?
Katie Dill: Yeah, we use that at Frog, we used that at Airbnb, and at Lyft now as well. In fact, just last week, we launched a new storyboard that shows the journey of what we want our passengers and drivers to be experiencing in the two year future.
Katie Dill: That’s a really powerful tool to align all the different teams that are gonna work on things that are gonna help to make that happen. See this is where we’re going and when they see that, there’s a much better shot at people actually coming out with things that are aligned to it as opposed to everybody off in their own direction going in their own way.
Katie Dill: We do have quite a few teams working at the same time and the more you can do to align efforts so that it’s not pent up in communication, the better.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah. Definitely. It seems like that coupled with user research and data, it takes even more of the guess work out of some of this, right?
Katie Dill: Yeah, absolutely.
Dan Cederholm: You mentioned user stories. You do use user stories at Lyft, as well. Did those come into play? I imagine they did with the passenger app redesign for instance.
Katie Dill: Yes. The passenger app redesign, we did use story to understand how does somebody use this, what’s the flow, what are the use cases? They’re running late to work. They wanna go to the grocery store. They’re out with friends and there are so many different ways a person would experience our product.
Katie Dill: The same person could have a business meeting or a big going out with five people and their needs are very different both those times. If we can better put ourself in those shoes or better understand the different experiences that people have, then we have a better shot of designing a product that’s actually gonna meet all those unique needs.
Dan Cederholm: Right. Totally. This is probably gonna get more complex as time goes on. You mentioned two years and I’m thinking in two years, things could look different with scooters and all different types of transportation, right, that I’m sure Lyft is getting involved in.
Katie Dill: Oh yeah. We have so many exciting things going on, between autonomous cars, bikes, scooters, transit integration. Our vision is we wanna change transportation for the better so that we can actually improve people’s lives and improve the cities that we live in.
Katie Dill: If we can help you move around more seamlessly with an actually sustainable transportation system, we actually kind of unlock the city. We can get these cars that are parked all over the place and taking up room just sitting parked 96% of the time.
Katie Dill: We can get them off the road and only have vehicles where you need them, when you need them. Then we can really change the way we live for much better. But that does mean that we have to make the product better than the status quo.
Katie Dill: Because the status quo is the hardest thing to change, right? Well, I have my car. I’m used to getting into my car and going to work. If we can make that just as enjoyable, if not more enjoyable, more reliable, more accessible then you don’t mind selling that car, not buying that car and instead, utilizing a system that’s far more efficient.
Katie Dill: That’s the exciting part but it definitely does mean that we have our work cut out for us to make that so, so simple and so enjoyable.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah. It’s a giant problem you’re solving there. Self driving bikes. Will we see those?
Katie Dill: Self driving bikes? Who knows what the future holds, but I do think riding bikes, riding scooters is a whole lot of fun. The electric aspect, it makes you feel superhuman. You can get to work and you don’t even break a sweat.
Katie Dill: It’s just so easy to get around. We’re really thrilled about our ability to bring bikes and scooters to folks and make that easier. There’s a lot we can do in the transportation space to kind of make better use of the environment.
Katie Dill: For example, public transportation as well. We are huge proponents of buses and ferries and trains. Unfortunately, sometimes, it’s hard to know what’s the right option for me? Maybe I’m new to this city. I don’t know how this bus system works.
Katie Dill: Or is that really quick? Where does it get me to? If we bring that into the app, you can see all that in one easy place and then you can make your decision as to, okay, this route is the cheapest and the easiest and the quickest. This is what we can do.
Katie Dill: That way, we can better direct traffic to the right mode of transportation and get less cars on the road.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, which is great goal.
Katie Dill: Yes, it’s a meaningful one, for sure.
Dan Cederholm: For all of us, right? What do you like the most about managing designers? And then, I would also ask what do you like the least about it? Tough question.
Katie Dill: It’s a great question. I realized this pretty early on in my design career while I was at Frog- Sorry, dog again.
Dan Cederholm: That’s all right.
Katie Dill: While I was at Frog, I was a designer and working on projects with small teams, looking at both industrial design and digital design and research all at once.
Katie Dill: While I was working at Frog, it started to become clear to me how much I just really enjoy the people side of the work and how we work as an organism.
Katie Dill: I just kind of found myself being drawn to how do I help other people be even more effective? I get more joy out of accomplishing that and essentially unlocking potential in other people than I do in even seeing something come from my own two hands.
Katie Dill: It can have that much more impact that way. If I can help five people have great impact, wow, that’s way better than just my one thing I could make.
Katie Dill: That, for me, has been always the anchor and the thing that I am most motivated by is that I would love to have a positive impact on the people around me and help them do better at their job and help them be more filled through their work and if I do that, I know that I’ll have that much more impact on this world and can do that many more great things.
Katie Dill: That’s what I love.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, that’s great. It’s a good thing. Very non-selfish way to look at it, too.
Katie Dill: Yeah, well I hope so. I guess the other thing, what I don’t love- It’s not necessarily an issue with management. It’s maybe my concern for the human race. Just to go there, why not?
Katie Dill: I do think the root of a lot, a lot of challenges, political, people engaging well on a team, people collaborating well, a lot of the issues are coming from our inability to understand another person’s perspective.
Katie Dill: It’s totally natural, but it’s really hard to step outside your shoes and see what somebody else might be experiencing at their reality and their truth and their knowledge of the situation.
Katie Dill: It happens, of course, in everyday life, in every scenario, but also in the workplace where it’s like us versus them. A PM thinking that designers all just do things differently or designers thinking at that the PMs just don’t get it.
Katie Dill: Or you’re on a team and you work with another designer and this designer doesn’t get it versus me. It’s oftentimes that they just have a different understanding of reality, they have different goals, they have different motivations.
Katie Dill: It’s not that they’re wrong. I do think that’s just a hard thing because one, I struggled with that too just like every other human. But you see that happen oftentimes with your team and a lot of energy needs to go into teasing out some conflicts that are often just based on a lack of empathy and understanding for the other person.
Katie Dill: If we could all just have a little bit more of that, I do think we would work a lot better together, we would be a lot more gracious and a lot more effective in our debates and our collaboration.
Katie Dill: I have lost countless hours to this and I think we all have and that’s where I just would say there’s maybe room for improvement.
Dan Cederholm: Well, yeah. I agree, totally. That’s probably good advice for the whole world in general right now.
Katie Dill: Yeah. It’s why I listen to the same amount of CNN and Fox News every single day.
Dan Cederholm: Right, right. Try to get both perspectives.
Katie Dill: Exactly. It’s a wild world.
Dan Cederholm: It really is. Well, Katie, listen, I thank you so much for spending time with us today. It was cool to hear a little bit about what you’re up to with Lyft and your career and all that.
Dan Cederholm: I just, we love it. What’s next for you at Lyft or anything else?
Katie Dill: We got a lot of exciting things going on as I mentioned. We’re just continuing to build out our team and expand our product and our product offering.
Katie Dill: We’re building out our industrial design team which is really exciting. That, as you know, is my background so I’m pretty pumped on that. We got just so many great folks joining the teams.
Katie Dill: We’re pretty thrilled. It’s important to us to keep it as one family despite our size and we put a lot of time and effort into finding the right people and I’m just really excited with the folks that we have brought onto our group and we’re looking forward to a good holiday season and next year’s gonna be a bright one, for sure.
Dan Cederholm: Awesome. I assume you’re probably hiring, too, right?
Katie Dill: We are. Yes. Indeed.
Dan Cederholm: I just threw that out there. No one paid me to say that. Literally, why wouldn’t you wanna work with Katie, though?
Katie Dill: Aww, thanks, Dan.
Dan Cederholm: Well, thanks again for being here and best wishes for the rest of this year and next.
Katie Dill: All right, Dan. Thank you so very much! Have a wonderful day and a happy holiday.
Dan Cederholm: Yeah, you too.