As Executive Director of Design at Method, Helen Le Voi is responsible for the quality of the agency’s design output across Europe. We spoke with Helen about some of the challenges and opportunities amidst the pandemic. While the story of “how a company adapts to virtual collaboration” is a common tale these days, we’re intrigued and inspired by how Method leveraged the moment to lean in and further transcend borders, literally.
Method turned 20 last year, and, since its inception, the agency has been instrumental in shaping the concepts of experience design that we all know so well today. Method has core offices in both New York and London, with a focus on full-circle strategy for its varied client roster, delivering everything from digital strategy to product implementation.
In part, it’s Method’s relationship with its parent company, GlobalLogic, that allows it to provide this end-to-end service. GlobalLogic provides access to 17,000 engineers and hundreds of in-house designers, in locations around the world. “Effectively, we can build anything,” Helen Le Voi said.
Coming Together While Apart
We asked Helen how her team continues to create and collaborate while apart, physically. “It’s the same thing we do normally. It’s partly because of the people we hire,” Helen said.
Like so many others, the agency doubled-down on communication channels and transformed in-person activities to virtual stages. But Method also discovered that remote working enabled teams in New York and London to come together more than ever before. In this case, it was as simple as shifting time.
For example, Helen’s London team had a standing Monday morning meeting to tee up the week ahead. Because of the time difference, the New York office was not a part of these discussions. But shifting to a Monday afternoon and making it virtual and thus more accessible enabled the New York team to participate and engage more closely with the larger Method family.
Helen also runs a weekly lunch program featuring external speakers or a series of internal “Method and Me” presentations to get to know the team better. In this case, the program was moved to accommodate a virtual “lunch” in the afternoon that New York can now join, to get to know colleagues across the pond and to benefit from speakers on everything from establishing narratives, new approaches to design to quantum computing.
The challenge of being suddenly distributed was not much of a challenge, as “we already work with distributed teams and clients across the world,” Helen said. “We all know each other across borders and boundaries and COVID has been great for this,” Helen said.
Shifting Client Needs Amidst the Pandemic
Helen has seen a bit of a shift in client needs from the start of the pandemic to now. “When COVID first started, the work we were being asked to get involved with was all very tactical,” Helen said. “It was like, we’ve been thinking about doing this thing for a while and now we really have to do it because we want to get our end customers to our physical products through a platform.”
In this sense, Method’s client work was very much driven by articulated business needs.
But now, Method is experiencing a “slow shift” to clients who are beginning to ask: Where are we going next? “We’ve got companies thinking now is the time to really do something different,” Helen said. “If this is a new version of our lives that is normal, we need to operate differently, get savvy, and get more clever with how we generate insights on our customers, because they’re all at home,” Helen said.
Helen’s team is also conscious that the client team itself is also likely working from home these days, too. “It’s changed on all levels. It’s an interesting mix and a really rich time for innovation,” Helen said. “We could be that Uber in the market that didn’t exist, we can see where we might play in the future. Some of this means we’re working out different ways of designing interactions, which is where we love to play.”
“Massive change and chaotic times always generate the opportunity for innovation and positive change,” Helen said.
As a result of the pandemic, Method has also grown their robust business and data design disciplines. “We know that, as a client, and this is especially true with COVID, you want to make something viable and feasible and usable and beautiful,” Helen said. Through business and data design strategies, Helen and her team leverage a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to better understand target audiences and achieve new scales of impact and resilience.
We also asked Helen about any perceived differences in how teams and clients in the U.S. versus the U.K are responding to the changing market amidst the pandemic. While there is undoubtedly a shift in client work, it’s been similar between the two geographies and markets, “it’s just that we see beyond borders more,” Helen said.
Recruitment at Method
One thing that hasn’t changed is how Method finds and hires the top talent. Method’s recruitment strategy “is very much a values fit,” Helen said. “We’re hiring someone who we want to stay around, who will complement the team and share the values we do. We’re a close-knit bunch and we work in a collaborative way,” she said. For Helen, this translates into traits like an inquiring mind, an entrepreneurial worldview, and, most importantly, a keenness to learn and grow.
“Everyone has some sort of side hustle because we’re not very good at keeping still,” Helen said
“This explains who we look for,” Helen said. “It’s people who are explorers and thinkers who want to make something of value for real people that will be used in the world and can make a difference.”