, Head of Innovation & Design at Visa

This article is part of a series of 10 interviews with world-class designers. I’ve interviewed Junior to Senior designers from companies such as IDEO, Dropbox, Visa, Airbnb, Toptal, Shopify and others.

“Questions to your younger self” was the format I used because I believe that it’s easier to give advice to my younger self than to someone else. So, in order to make the life of my interviewees easy, they would just have to give recommendations and advice to their younger selves on what it takes to become a world-class designer and what they should avoid to speed up the process.

Without further ado, meet Erico Fileno, designer and lecturer from Brazil, expert in Service Design, Design Research, Interaction Design and .

Erico leads innovation and design projects as Senior Director of Visa in Brazil and coordinates the Service Design Network Brazil. He has pioneered the field of interaction design in Brazil, serving as an evangelist and leading the way in promoting the discipline’s relevance to business. On this path, Erico has coordinated an international-level postgraduate program in Human-Centered Design and has been involved in many project implementations in this field.

1. Guidione: How would you explain Design to your younger self with one year of work experience?

Erico: If I could translate, there are two words I use a lot. Design for me is a project. And to understand the creation of the mentality to execute the project. Project mentality to develop new solutions, to create new products and services. And the other word that defines design a lot for me is the user, that is, there is no design without the user who you are projecting for. If I were to translate it into two words, for me, design is project and user.

2. Guidione: How would you explain your UX design process for your younger self?

Erico: I do not use the term UX design process, I use Design process. It always begins with a human approach. I work a lot with Design focused on the human being where, through the identification of problems — and these problems are identified through research, qualitative research -, we capture problems and opportunities. After that, the second step is exactly how we work the part of generating ideas. How can we create something that will improve this problem? What ideas can I generate so that, in a collaborative way, I generate a new solution, a new product, a new service? And the third stage of my process is how I can materialize my idea. That’s why I need to prototype and have this prototype be validated by people. So my Design process is, research, ideation, and prototyping.

3. Guidione: Which mistakes would you tell your younger self to make?

Erico: The first big mistake we have to make is to get out of the front of the computer and hit the street. Give face and see and know. Sometimes we are afraid to talk to people, to relate to people. Many times the design happens inside our closed offices. That’s why I think we should go the street. Talk to people, and make a lot of mistakes. I remember the first time I did research, coordinated ethnographic research, I said so much bullshit when I directed the research, thinking it was the right way to do it. You must go through these errors and these research experiments.

4. Guidione: What would you recommend your younger self to focus on?

Erico: One thing I would ask the younger Erico is to be able to learn more about business. A lot of my career was spent on technology, so I focused a lot on design and technology. But it’s very important to understand business. When designing it is important for us to understand business, to realize how things are built. In other words, understand who will finance it and how much it will cost.

5. Guidione: What do you advise your younger self to learn (to get extra skills)?

Erico: One thing that I also had to learn was to think of design from the eyes of a facilitator of the Design process itself. I suggested taking courses in the facilitation of workshops, improvisation, oratory, coordination of multidisciplinary teams.

6. Guidione: Which books would you encourage your longer self to read?

Erico: Books related to the connection between design and business. I would recommend “Change by Design” by Tim Brown, books like “The Art of Innovation” by IDEO’s Tom Kelley, Roger Martin’s books are also very important, like his “The Design of Business”. Going more to the project part, and ignoring the business part a bit, more practical and fundamental content like Fabien Gueret’s blog and books by Donald Norman. Everything you can read from Donald Norman.

7. Guidione: Which people would you advise your younger self to follow?

Erico: The authors of these books. Tim Brown, Donald Norman, Louis Rosenfeld, Dave Malouf, Allan Cooper. These are the people that I admire enough that I always try to read. There is also LukeW (Luke Wroblewski).

8. Guidione: Which tools would you suggest to your younger self to learn (become an expert in)?

Erico: Tools are changing, digital tools as well as workshop tools. I think what we always have to learn is communication. Design is communication. It’s how we develop the art and talk more with people. I do not like to specify tools, because vice only takes 1 day. As soon as you learn a tool you can become addicted to it. The most important is to know which tools we’ll use to show or prototype our ideas in a fast, synthetic and minimalist way.

9. Guidione: What wouldn’t you tell your younger self?

Erico: I would not say “Designers will get rich”. As much as the profession is always on the rise, it does not have the same professional appreciation as other areas. If you are going to work in the field of design in a company with technical personnel, they will earn more than you. If you’re going to work with people who focus on business or management, they will earn more than you do too. So I would not say that to my younger self at the beginning of my career.

10. Guidione: In talking to your younger self, how much of your current success would you attribute to hard work and how much would you attribute to luck?

Erico: I stay within the Pareto ratio. 80 effort and 20% luck. I was lucky enough to catch the internet at it’s very beginning. In part, this helped me quite a lot. But I’ve always had to work hard.

I hope you enjoyed the as much I did. See you around.

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