Great Things Come From Great Diverse Teams (with Katie Dill)
Who is Katie Dill?
Based in San Francisco, Katie Dill is the VP of the design team at Lyft. Her team is a part of almost everything that Lyft creates to build a product that is reliably great and enjoyable to use. She learned design later in life, and her expertise evolved as she worked with companies and brands. She previously worked at Airbnb before she joined Lyft about a year ago.
What are Katie’s weekly priorities?
Katie’s weekly priority is to make sure her design team — which is around 100 people — is happy and active to produce the best work of their lives.
The company’s ultimate goal is improve transportation in big cities, and to focus on the people, not cars. In doing some, it requires Lyft to make multiple ways of transportation enjoyable for people.
What makes Katie excited about when working for Lyft?
She is excited about the scooter and bike services that are available in some big cities around the country. Katie states how these transportation services are better and hope that they are being integrated well in big cities.
Early on in her career, Katie finds things to be more fulfilling and enjoyable when she’s looking from a distance and seeing the positive impacts and actions that affect people around her. She acknowledges how there are more talented people in her design team, so she enjoys helping these people bring the ideas to life.
What is the one thing that Lyft designers and employees have in common?
Everyone at Lyft has the same passion for their mission. They all want to have a positive impact in the cities and environments around them. Lyft is not just about ride-sharing, but about getting people to use cars less through other ways of transportation, be that bikes, busses, or what have you.
What is one of Lyft’s strong beliefs?
Great things come from great diverse teams. There should be diversity in every way, including skill set, thought, background, gender, and demographic. The company welcomes people from all parts of life to build their team and create efficient products and overall, a better environment.
How does Lyft onboard new employees?
Katie states that the company wants new employees to be a part of Lyft, so this requires clear communication on what it means to work for the company. She is proud of Lyft’s ability to embrace thoughts and perspectives because the company wants people to shape and contribute to what the company is going. New ideas are essential to have when implement new ways of improvement in their work environment.
How is Lyft conscientious about the environment?
Katie states how it goes back to the team, and that it’s important for people to realize that pixels are merely small parts of the equation when hiring people. She says that the real product and experience is 99% offline. It’s an absolute requirement to hire someone that sees beyond the pixels and thinks about Lyft's overall customer experience.
How does Lyft design different cities ?
While there are limitations on budgets, you can still gain customer feedback and insights about a city through various platforms. When you first make assumptions, you should push aside them because you don’t know until you find out.
Doing research from afar is not as effective as speaking with individuals in the designated city to gain accurate and helpful insights before you send your products in a new city and having to learn the hard way. The company always tries to learn as much as they can about a city before implementing their products.
What are benefits and struggles that agencies and in-house teams experience?
Benefits of agencies include getting to work on a lot of things while you’re surrounding with other people working on the same projects. Companies hire agencies to take off the edge work and gain an outer perspective. The negative is that you’re slightly removed from the company your working with, which means you may not have a deep understanding of what the company is striving for, so your idea may not be effective. Agencies sometimes view the impact of in-house work to diminish the agency’s roles.
If you worked in-house, you will have knowledge and know the company inside an out for potential opportunities. The negative side may include not being able to be included directly to work on the projects, but would have to push and support the idea to happen.
To achieve success, you’ll need to have an agency and an in-house team in order to collaborate and successfully work in today’s world as the work dynamics are changing. If you have both of these, you’ll get the best of both worlds and be more impactful once you take advantage of these opportunities.
What is Katie’s advice to female leaders and designers?
Despite not it being a preference, it means investing your time and getting out there, being a mentor, participating in talks, and being seen. Katie hopes that the limelight is equally shown on everyone. The host agrees, and this means hiring great people.
How do you truly have an inclusive team in a company?
The company should understand what it’s looking for. Decide what are the must-haves for individuals to make up the team, and what are the things that can be coached and learned on the job. A diverse group of people with different backgrounds can greatly impact the industry, and it's something that every company should think about when building a team.
What is the legacy you hope to leave behind as a design leader?
Ultimately, Katie hopes to leave a positive impact for people during her time at Lyft. She hopes that the people she encounters will enjoy what she’s helped do and has benefited from it. She strongly believes that Lyft will create positive impacts in the world due to the type of people the company hires. If she helps these people amplify their talents, then nothing can hold the company back.
“My role isn’t about seeing every pixel but setting the standard, getting the right people in place, seeing the big picture of where we are going and what we can accomplish.”
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