Having a wobble
I wanted to write this post so I may look back in a years time and see what has happened since and also share it to the so many that find themselves wobbling at work and worrying.
After a successful 3 years at Sky Bet, it was time to move on - due to one reason and another, and I found myself interviewing at DWP and (finally) returning to the one ultimate challenge that I vowed to return too. Coincidentally, its also been 3 years since I last worked at DWP, a lot of good work has happened in that time, there is much more of community vibe; people have got better (something that everyone should be proud of), mids become seniors - there also seems to be a lot more work to be done, which means the trust in us as a department is where we all dreamed it to be - 100%.
I’ve found the first couple of weeks exciting, challenging, tiring - I honestly couldn’t of asked for a more different culture, and at this point of my career its exactly what I want. I wanted a fresh challenge, something to push two things:
- My skills as a designer - not just doing the pretty, but also providing an answer to designing services and using workshops and everything else that needs post its,
- (but more importantly) I wanted to work harder on my communication skills, the so called “soft skills”, the ability to get everyone bought into my/our design vision is the biggest test of all, it doesn’t matter where you are this should always be a thing we all strive for, and I wanted to get knee-deep into this.
So, what’s this post about?
The wobble. Why did I suffer from this? Was it people disliking my work? Nope. Was it my industry wasn’t valued by the wider team? Really no.
It was a minor moment where design wasn’t discussed, more so, development was put as an important factor and how we can’t amend anything for a while on the front end, I sat in silence trying to not scream out “what am I here for?”. I exited the meeting with a mood that could only compare to an album by Slipknot.
This sounds terrible, as designers with the mission “to make things easier for the user”, it beat me up.
I mentioned the community earlier - I came out and straight away from this meeting, spoke to other designers in my team, sometimes having a calculated rant clears everything (coaching yourself or being coached is the best), and literally - in a flash the smoke cleared.
Good “proper” people are amazing, and working with people you’d call friends is even better. This is DWP.
Lots to fix? Not really, polishing up rough edges sounds more apt. Do I have support from my line manager and more? Heck yes. Will it be tough work? It better be!
Where to start?
The difference from many places to here is, you are trusted for your skills - you have to use your initiative to get work, work doesn’t come to you via a ticket or a walk to your desk, we need to sell design, we ALL need to sell design, we need to get amongst the people and let them design and learn of its value. “Design in the open” isn’t just a poster - it’s a rule all designers should be doing from their first day, if you get paid to design you need to share everything - however little, however boring or however “everyone knows this anyways”.
It’s not personal, people do want to work with you - but in reality they don’t know what you do, they don’t get it, they don’t see value and why should they? Designers sometimes go for the big firework display presentation, writing or designing in the dark - who ever thought this was a good idea certainly hasn’t gone further than a Dribbble shot and spoken to a user.
Finally, I want to instil the self-belief in others that it’s a team sport - we all fail, we all succeed. One of the best things said to me was:
“You’re the designer, what ever you say is right* - and we’re fully behind you”
We being the design team.
I’m happy to lead by example and be the voice of change (I’ve done it so many times before), but together we’ll fix this to be in the design world we want.
*Needless to say.. not EVERYTHING
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