Let your Customers Write your Copy for You
It takes a lot of effort, coordination, and skill to deliver superior products. The product design industry is maturing at an incredible pace, and our customers’ expectations are so high. Very practically and unintentionally, this may end up being a breeding ground for some broken relationships between the teams making digital products. As designers, when the stakes are high, we tend to play our cards too close to the vest (I hide). When the barometric pressure to deliver is pounding, we tend to relax our standards (I become more of a layer slob than a layer mayor). When we feel adrift in the corporate labyrinths, we tend to shut down emotionally and professionally (I tend to blame). The pressure to deliver cascades to how our teams work with other teams in coordination of building those amazing products.Design teams could take a passive approach to working with others. But passivity devalues our craft by undermining our abilities, and ultimately becomes a breeding ground for frustration that we could have managed. Alternatively, design teams could take a more authoritarian approach to working with others. But this approach devalues our partnerships, and ultimately becomes a breeding ground for frustrations that other teams will harbor.In both approaches, relationships are damaged. As a parent of three children, it’s taken me a few years to realize that people don’t rebel against authority. They rebel against a lack of relationships.People don’t rebel against authority. They rebel against a lack of relationships.To make the way forward with your teams, a central theme of generosity tends to align the misaligned. “In healthy cultures, people rise by elevating others and fall by undermining others,” writes organizational psychologist Adam Grant. “In toxic cultures, people are forced to choose between helping others and achieving success. Choose the workplace where success comes from making others successful.” Transparency fuels generosity — it’s our way forward in this complex relational dance of product creation.After speaking with colleagues in the design industry, I believe there is a possibly counterintuitive and primary technique that is emerging as the way forward in generosity: transparency. Transparency is the foundation of “open design.” With an open workflow, I’ve found that the product, teams, and companies can be more successful when we include others and show our work. Transparency fuels generosity — it’s our way forward in this complex relational dance of product creation.Make design less about “magic” No one trusts magicians. Why should we? A magician is paid to trick you, to make an illusion so convincing that you suspend your belief of reality. Showing your design work to other stakeholders within your organization is the best thing for a design team to do when struggling with proving trust.To show what you’re proposing is reality. Your process might have a “™” or is out of a design manifesto or UX playbook. This is even more fuel for showing your work. When you prove your efforts by opening up your processes, thinking, and tools, you’ll likely find that other stakeholders and partners will either employ them (and thereby make better decisions on their domains), or will invite you to become more involved. At its core, Abstract can enable this type of transparency because it sits at the crossroad of delivering your process, thinking, and design.Overcoming silos and barriers can seem like a fantasy, but there are strong examples of open and generous working concepts that are rooted in transparent design. IBM is a good example of a large company that embraces transformation. There are few companies that have evolved so many times and yet still manage to be leading the way toward change. Their design…
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