I sat in a meeting, in fact I’ve sat in many meetings where it’s been said “Right, that’s decided.. and you’ll design that later” and I’ve been ok with it, I did design it later and it did succeed.

It gained the figures they needed, it ticked the boxes and I delivered something good.

Something good, but not something great. It answered the “now” problem, it did what they needed, it answered the issues for the next 3 months but a year later it was outdated and not fit for purpose.

So I did well, what’s the problem?

I didn’t answer the problem, it was the thing I see so often - “the conveyer belt of design”, it was passed down and I was expected to deliver the creative juice.

I see this happen so many times, private and public services - a designer holds a key to the mystery box of design and that approach, has put us in this space that we don’t want to be in. We disappear into that “yes” job, not early enough to say no, not early enough to do creative thinking or worse - miss the product strategy conversations and that key co-design sessions are what makes a product and team tick.

Design is complex, but we’ve made design a mystery, where there is no mystery.

Design is a team sport, UX is everyone’s job, no one wants to deliver a bad service or experience - along the way there a lot of gatekeepers, and design is one of them, but to be a silo key holder is anti co-design.

Opening the room gives you more voices, more choices, more opportunities.

This is scary for most designers, some are precious about design, some are just scared if feedback, some think non-designers should be designing, whether it’s a service map, or wireframes or even straight to hi-res mocks, we need to give back, we need to allow others in, and in return we must be involved in other disciplines. Imagine sharing the burden and weight of designing something special, a clear brief, clear boundaries and impressively no one questioning your design when/if you insist on the big firework”show and tell” presentation of your majestic work.

Rolling back to my example, I remember it like yesterday, it’s a reminder tool that I use often when telling the price of co-design, I also know a certain PM I worked with who will also share this terrible tale of silo work which lead to nothing, a shot, a stamp of a pretty visual but not much substance.

So what did we change next time I can imagine you shouting at the screen?

We talked, we spent time together to find the real problem, the real thing THEY - the user, the stakeholder wanted - a problem / opportunity statement. We ran workshops, we planned roadmaps, we got brains in a room and made such brilliant magic we enabled a dream to become reality and that is when REAL design happens.

Communicating with the team was the best gift I gave myself, sharing the pressure of delivering design freed and still frees me of any constraints and limits of my own ability. I am the best designer in the room (best being - I’m the paid designer, it’s officially my job), no one can challenge that, BUT I’m not the most knowledgable of the problem, and that is something to keep remembering - you aren’t handing over your job keys, you are opening your job and delivering something that is better, and that is most certainly going to be nearer to the solution quicker than I could possibly deliver.

So, I challenge you to include as many into your process as possible and see what happens, remove the secretive cycle and allow others to pick up a pen and scribble, they might just surprise you.


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Weeknotes No.24