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July 2016 – Qa’id Jacobs
What do you do when you want to make a foundational design change to a large system? DESTROY something and see what happens. Think micro tears and ruptures. To improve the culture and the thinking inside an organization, you will need to make micro breaks in systems of thought, or patterns of behavior – and be ready to deploy a design that will help to RECREATE them in an enhanced way.
If you lift a heavy weight, your tendons and fibers are being stretched and contracted in such a way that they are microscopically tearing and rupturing. Work your muscles hard enough and they are sore the next day because they’re literally injured. They’re being destroyed so that they can be rebuilt and enhanced by the bodies natural processes. (The internet told me this is true.)
I practiced this destruction and rebuilding on a project I joined right after a previous UX designer had left. It was one of those situations where I jumped right into the shoes of someone else. What I found when I landed was that my predecessor had designed an expectation for the company that Design (big D) was a very limited thing owned only by one person: the designer. Further, they only practiced design thinking in the realm of the user interface. Of course no product can exist without some interface design, but my approach to UX design is much broader. As a UX and systems designer, the entire process from ideation to planning to coding to releasing is a part of the User Experience. In my view, both the consumers and the makers are users experiencing the product.
I completely dismantled the established ways of product design management and prioritization. Instead of a one-way, “what the expert says wins” approach, I established design sprints open to all staff who then collectively determined major product directions and innovations. Instead of time consuming super refined mock ups, I expressed my designs in interactive but disposable prototypes that were quickly generated. Although people had been very comfortable with the established ways and begrudgingly participated in the new directions I introduced, they ultimately became extremely engaged in the design process and were responsible for major innovations in the product and a shift towards proactive design thinking.
A Warning – Your Mileage May Vary
This might be a good time to give you a warning. Taking this “destroy something” approach is risky. Wanting to change the way an organization functions is a certainly a kind of UX design, but it can cost you your UX Design job. In many places, sharing your unique and challenging ideas outside of the scope of the product/project is like saying the ideas you oppose are worthless. Of course, that’s not what you’re actually saying, but in the distortion field of office culture, that’s exactly how your creativity could be misunderstood. Depending on WHO’s ideas you are challenging, you might end up on the losing side of a power struggle. You know – the one where you do all the struggling and someone else wields the power. If you can accept the risk then destroying things in order to rebuild them will provide invaluable experiences for you as a designer.
Measure / Adjust
How do you know if the approach you’re taking is working. Winning doesn’t have to be a binary, black and white thing. Design a solution that can manifest in varying degrees of fidelity. Select specific measurable outcomes that can help you determine whether your goals, tactics, and experience have been sensible. Make them formal and keep track of them in a document or tool or whatever.
A spreadsheet that lists your change goals, aligned with the seams you think effect that goal and the efforts put towards those goals will reveal patterns in your results.
A brief survey to colleagues after an event you organized, an emergency, or any unexpected occurrence can give you some insight into how colleagues are experiencing the job or the innovations you’re introducing.
If your tactics don’t seem to be working the way you want them to be, adjust them. Part of UX design is experimentation. Part of experimentation is being wrong and learning from that. Still, you deserve to work in an environment that allows you to be the best designer you can be. Don’t expect your office’s culture to suit you. It won’t suit you until you design it to suit you. The bad news is that it’s not easy design work. The good news? You love to design stuff. Also, now you have some strategies to use!
Source link http://www.uxswitch.com/part-2-office-culture-reshaped-ux-designer/