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September 2016 – Mark Hughes and Connie Missimer

As designers, we naturally open up our creative output to team members and superiors for their review, analysis and comment. So how does one navigate this world of varied critical reception? Mark Hughes and Connie Missimer have had their fair share of experience with both toxic (POUND) and welcoming (FLEX) environments. In an another UXswitch exclusive, they give us some advice for navigating your way more towards the latter.

Is it Me or My Work?

People higher up on the chain often are the ultimate judge of your design work. Their tastes and intuitions ultimately dictate the ‘official’ opinion of your creation.  These opinions can furthermore be informed by their perceptions of you— enter the distorting lenses through which we all view gender, age, attractiveness, extraversion, professional pedigree— all irrelevant to the quality of what you’ve designed.  If you happen to be on the losing side of these perceptions, over time judgments of this sort can erode your confidence.

There is another environment, an airy, high-vaulted space to the closed dark room just described. In this expansive arena, your creations are not pre-judged by higher-ups but rather tested in a larger audience. Qa’id Jacobs, in recent posts on UXswitch, describes the great accomplishment in having moved his company from a top-down method to one where a lot of people weigh in and drive iterations. However, he cautions that it is risky business to challenge those who (purport to) know better.

Eyes Open

If you wish to avoid such negative environments but don’t have the time or desire to shift the company culture, it might be an idea to find out how decisions are made in an organization when applying for the job. You can always ask questions like this during the interview. Better yet is to look at unfiltered job-review sites such as GlassDoor. Comments such as “highly political,” or “it’s not what you know it’s who you know,” signal a top-down POUND philosophyProcess-heavy, Overbearing oversight, Underused “underlings,” Negativity and Dogmatism.  Conversely, entries by current or former employees like “exciting,” “welcoming new ideas” and “freedom” connote a FLEX philosophyFluid, Loyal opposition welcome, Experimental i.e decisions made through testing rather than fiat.

A FLEX Future

In the end, every thing made by humans can incorporate the useful, the beautiful and the fun.  This is true not only of our designs but of the workplace. Only by employees and job applicants creating our own political pressure to move companies towards a FLEX philosophy will they feel compelled to cede power from the political in favour of the empirical. FLEX ultimately allows designers to create products and services that will result in increased sales, customer satisfaction and staff retention.

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Mark Hughes is Manager, User Experience PlayStation VUE in San Francisco, California.
Constance Missimer is Sr. Manager, User Experience Design at AT&T Mobility in Seattle.

 



Source link https://www.uxswitch.com/designers-join-the-flex-movement/

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