Why do we all suck at collaboration? For starters, we have bought into a myth of collaboration without much consensus on what it actually looks like. We also tend to be guarded about the actual process of collaboration. Regardless of whether a process is healthy or a complete disaster, we only share the final result of the work and not the messy, chaotic, flawed process that went into achieving that result.

Most will agree that collaboration is essential to designing impactful solutions, but to collaborate effectively, we must work with people from different experiences, opinions, and motivations. Of all the problems we must solve, people problems are the most complex and also the most rewarding ones to tackle. Join me as we explore the challenges of collaboration and how designers can use the skills they already have to confront those obstacles.


With over 20 years of experience designing for enterprise software, Karen VanHouten has seen the good (occasionally), the bad (often), and the ugly (too frequently) of the user experience world. She’s recently shifted her work focus and now uses her experience and skills as a researcher, information architect, and UX designer to intentionally design a healthy environment. The latter focuses on collaboration and innovation to support and nurture the next generation of designers. (In other words, she’s basically a UX therapist!)