This post. It’s a little interesting that it comes after my previous one.
My previous one was a heart/gut wrenching experience as I was struggling to transition from the traditional UX role to a new way of working. It’s part leadership-by-learning (from a thousand mistakes). It’s part ‘letting go’ of the things that I don’t need to control. A new way to just be. To allow for others to participate in the creation of the User Experience.
Hi, my name is Ariel and a few months ago, I finally understood a few things that I once read many years ago. An article written by somebody who was one of several consultants Consultants who are incredibly gifted User Experience professionals that have deep-trenches of knowledge and experience. They wrote about their process. How they approach their consultancy. They encouraged groups to have productive conversations, while being mostly silent participants who just nudge conversations with information and reminders of past group-shared knowledge. They wrote about helping these folks find their own solutions to challenges within their products and service offerings.
Being silent and not producing the solutions themselves? This seemed foreign to me, but brilliant. Something I have since aspired towards. I finally understand it.
Working within a real Agile environment is different than anything I have experienced before. Little did I know – before this – I was a bit of a dictator. How could I not know this?!
I did usability studies. I heard business leaders and their interests. I took into consideration the short-term and long-term goals and plotted plans for execution in iterative phases. I created holistic experiences that were seamless, end-to-end, and… passed them off. Product managers who worked closely with the development teams would then handle the daily implementation. I would be brought in to do visual and interaction QA and to work with the developers who weren’t nearly as comfortable with CSS as I was.
… but I was a dictator.
How? Well, let me tell you. I created the entire experience one-sided. User testing and business needs were considered, weighed and solutions were crafted to meet those needs. Where were the developers in all of this? Well? They weren’t.
I have worked with a lot of really great people. I have had a blast with them too. I miss them. But they weren’t really part of the conversations until the crafted solutions were already signed-off by business leaders. In this way, what I said and put together was dictating many people would be working on! They had no say in the matter unless they encountered something which was too difficult to do.
I should have known better. I was once a front-end developer and I felt like a code monkey. Interactions and behaviors thought through, they made sense, but if only they had thought about this, that or the other thing – it would be SO MUCH better, richer, complete.
I was a dictator and the developers weren’t part of the conversation.
They are now.
While I have the acquired knowledge of user experience, information architecture, psychology, and design, that doesn’t mean I am all knowing, all encompassing. Nope – that sort of thing only comes from the minds of the many, from consideration and compromises, and the ability to step aside and to guide rather than doing.
It is hard to explain, but I really prefer this method of feature creation. I gather information and am happy with a handful of many different outcomes. So long as they reach the goals of the user and the business. If what the team creates does not, then it needs further investigation, further discussion. But working with a team of many minds has a way that enables a more comprehensive and thorough approach to accomplishing a feature’s goals. It’s quite amazing and quite satisfying.
I <3 working with an Agile team and practicing Lean UX. I hope our team is able to continue this practice in the future for a very long time.