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Design as if a life depends on it

By Sabrina Mach

Session type

Lightning Talk


Thu, 24 Oct 2019


Main stage

About this session

As product designers we are in a unique position to positively impact people‘s lives. We negotiate with business stakeholders to achieve the best outcome, while retaining a good relationship. But compromise on the wrong thing, and the product will fail.

Hostage negotiators find themselves in a similar, but more extreme situation. They negotiate to secure a person’s life! Compromise is not an option. They cannot say: „Give me two of the four hostages, and we call it a day.“ They have to get everything they ask for, and in a way that leaves the adversary feeling as if they have a great relationship.

Through this extreme situation hostage negotiators acquired methods and tools, that we too can use to achieve a better outcome. Saving the life of the product, and a lifetime of our customers and users.

This talk shares lessons from hostage negotiation, and how we can use them to become better product designers.

About Sabrina

Sabrina Mach

Sabrina Mach

Design as if a life depends on it at ThoughtWorks

Sabrina is a Lead Experience Designer and Product Strategist with over 13 years of experience in entrepreneurship, UX research, design, and product strategy.

After running her own technology and consulting firm for 8 years, Sabrina joined a FinTech Startup where she leads the UX effort: defining the UX strategy, executing it, and advocating UX throughout the whole organisation. Sabrina is now at ThoughtWorks, where she shapes products strategy, discovery, and delivery.

Sabrina is passionate about creating impact by delivering value fast. She goes beyond designing products, by bringing the user’s perspective to every aspect of the product and service development cycle. Sabrina creates real change by engaging stakeholders. Taking them along a journey towards a desirable outcome.