Uday Gajendar Designing the context for design to thrive // a manifesto & CV //

Uday Gajendar, UX Architect at Automation Anywhere • Updated 1/28/21

It is time to move beyond velocity-driven sprint metrics & short-term UX/UI fixes.

We need to answer questions about creating long-term value for customers, via "metadesign". This is my mission as a UX leader.

This transcends UX/UI, buttons & icons, wireframes, or Sketch files. Instead, what is the shape, structure, and pattern of the journey, service, or interaction being offered? How are marketing comms & tech features tied across channels and devices in support of customer moments? How do they enable a benefit that will be enjoyed – ensuring satisfaction or fulfillment – over the long run? Is your organization set up for achieving this? This is about intentional change for positive outcomes through discovery: molding critical frameworks + systems, guiding process + strategy with impact on culture. There are no JIRA tickets or burndown charts for this kind of work – it's truly at the strategic level. But it's vital for any business that values satisfied, returning customers. And I can enable your team to pursue this path - successfully.

"Metadesign" is the designing that needs to happen before the design itself. It's defining a foundation that can flex & scale. I can help you do this.

My Background

From large corporate design groups to early/growth-stage startups, I bring a wealth of expertise benefitting any team.

I'm Uday Gajendar. With ~ 20 years of corporate & consulting experience in Silicon Valley tackling complexity & ambiguity, I am a design leader focused on innovation for strategic value. I am a proven catalyst for design-led innovation, defining next-generation concepts & coaching start-ups on UX fundamentals. My specialities include creating visionary concepts for new business models, leading collaborations with engineering & product, and shaping a progressive design culture. I bring versatile expertise, for enterprise to consumer, desktop to mobile, and beyond.

My Education

My design philosophy & methods are gratefully informed by various design schools and books.

My Approach

My process involves cycles of learning via customer interviews & disposable artifacts that anchor crucial dialogues with stakeholders.

There is no formula for good design! Instead, it's based upon cycles of learning: understanding your stakeholders, modeling the problems, and visualizing possible solutions – all powered by creative, iterative thinking in a deliberate yet efficient way. Sure, this all sounds theoretical...until you ask Adobe, LinkedIn, Netflix, Google, AirBnB, Square, Uber – who all apply this proven model in their own unique ways. Not so theoretical anymore, is it? Read more about why I can't design without research > (and neither should you!)

On Design Leadership

Being a design leader is a dynamic, multi-faceted pursuit – for a team and the industry.

What does it mean to be a design leader? I believe there are multiple facets which evolve over time per priority & context. The four facets of design leadership shown here amplify each other, fostering a cycle of optimism grounded upon coaching or sharing knowledge & passion, transmitting that value through impact, influence, and inspiration, whether working with startups, organizing conferences, or envisioning concepts. Leading by example is very much a big aspect, role modeling best practices for teams to embody.

UX Career Themes

Having delivered designs for web/mobile/desktop apps for ~ 20 years, certain themes emerge that exemplify my strengths & passions.

There are four key themes that summarize the arc of my design career thus far.

Sketching: I am unabashedly an artist at heart, so I thrive on pen & paper sketching — fast and gestural — as my primary means of problem exploration & solution generation. Plus, anyone can do it! I can teach you how.

Sketching: pen & paper, whiteboard, and scenarios.

Systems Thinking: No matter what kind of problem I’m given, I always seek to understand the parts and wholes, the pathways and elements, how they all relate. Diagrams are fantastic storytelling devices to foster cross-team alignment & agreement for the most complex products. I print them out large (as much as 7 feet long) for maximum engagement!

Systems thinking: sensing & revealing the relationships among objects, actions, and screens.

Enterprise UX: My path organically swept across many companies bent towards large-scale software rich with complexity & ambiguity, deep into business productivity arenas. I find this problem space intellectually rewarding and rich with untapped design potential. Read more on why I design for Enterprise UX > I also help curate the annual Enterprise UX conference via Rosenfeld Media, along with the monthly community calls and newsletter.

Enterprise UX: designing for business / IT productivity apps and scalable features.

Next-Gen Concepts: Naturally provoking speculative concepts to shift the design direction and motivate new business models, that’s a vital theme as well in my work. Sometimes you need to shake things up with something unexpected!

Next-gen concepts: visually provocative speculations to inspire new directions.

UX Talks

For well over a decade, I have spoken about UX topics at a range of popular industry conferences & corporate events around the world, from Austin to Bangalore to Sydney. It's my way of sharing professional insights, and learning through active dialogue with like-minded peers, all seeking to elevate our field.

Want to get in touch about these topics? For speaking or workshop requests, please email me: udanium@gmail.com

My services in pursuit of metadesign

As a principal/architect-level design leader, I provide creative, strategic value for my clients & employers, who leverage the expertise I bring to solving complex customer problems. I provide coaching, promote "Design IQ" within organizations, deliver rapid expert design in a collaborative manner, and create innovative concepts for enhancing business models.

Want to get in touch? For consulting or full-time employment inquiries, please email me: udanium@gmail.com
Useful Resources
There are many good books I've found valuable as references to guide me in various situations.
Created By
Uday Gajendar


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