I started doing these year end summarizations in 2015. They’ve become a written testament to assess goals that I set out to achieve, but also a reflection on professional endeavors, what I’ve learnt during the year, not only in the Design field, but also in Technology, Innovation and if I may humbly say, life in general. Hope this makes for compelling reading and for some opportunities for discussion.
Covid, Design & Enterprise Software. This year will always be associated in the annals of History with Covid 19, and how everyone’s lives around the globe permanently changed as a direct result of that. However, and even before the ramifications of the pandemic started spreading, 2020 started for me in the midst of a FAST UX exercise (Focus, Attendance, Summarization, Translation), and having to refocus the product journey for an Enterprise application, whose journey had started in the middle of 2019, and whose Development cycle was about to start. User Testing feedback, Stakeholder input, and overall uncertainty about scalability and longevity of the solution initially conceived, forced me not only to reconsider options, but how to re-adjust the direction of the exercise itself, considering variables such as resources availability, timelines pending and go to market deadlines. The flexibility and agility that is associated with the Design Thinking process had to be leveraged, in the sense that new concepts had to quickly be triggered, tested & validated, across internal teams, and of course, with other participants fundamental to the success of the Process and Product itself, outside of the Organization. This example reinforced the need for a Design Process, or any process for that matter, to remain limber, for the process to account for the unexpected, and consider changes in direction as needed be. Ultimately, piercing through the needs of users and clients is fundamental, but so is nurturing and constructing scalable and timeless solutions, that empower thriving businesses. By the time Covid 19’s rapid proliferation became all too evident, the priorities changed both from a Business & Product perspective, reinstating the need for the Design process and the professionals involved in it, to be flexible and adapt, while of course remaining focused on products which needed to be delivered to market in times of need. This lesson of agility, rapid inflection and quick validation also occurred in the latter part of the year as I embarked on a Design Process revolving around a series of tools which needed a quick to market perspective. Once again, availability of a series of key personas to the Design Process was fundamental, as was the understanding of technical and resource limitations. Much like my article on “Constraints…” highlighted, being able to understand the context in which this product solution will operate is essential, as are of course the constraints with which teams have to operate in order to make these solutions a reality. What I’ve continued to observe and reinforce as a practice after all these years working in the Design world is the following: prepare adequately (and that means, prepare workshops, research endeavors, sketching sessions, remote sessions, toolkits, tool assessments, among many other factors), since preparation will enable you to handle the unexpected, while still being productive on outputs which will maintain the process moving forward. Secondly, continue to learn, study, refine your education. Only by continuously learning, across a variety of topics, does a Designer get a sense of what happens across different disciplines and the world. This continuous education isn’t limited solely to new software tools and understanding new trends, but it also ties with other subject matters, such as psychology, ethnography, economy, and the list goes on. Having an understanding of the world we operate on is fundamental in order to produce solutions that resonate with the variety of audiences that live within this globe. Now more than ever, we need to reach out to a variety of audiences, as opposed to crafting solutions that are a strict reflection of Designers themselves, and therefore a myopic view of the world and consumers themselves. Thirdly, is of course, collaboration. Any process, be it Design driven or otherwise, is only as effective as team members converge on a process that is understandable and shared. Designers now, more than ever so, have to play the role of catalysts, but also deftly understand timelines, understand contexts, perspectives, collect, organize and showcase information that can be digested by all. This sharing and collaborative efforts, including of course, clients and users, make solutions more effective, functional and ultimately usable (and credible).