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Returning to craft

Returning to craft

www.doc.ccdoc.cc2 weeks ago in#Outside Love24

Returning to craft How returning to the craft taught me to be a better leader Illustrations from the book “Focus” by Evan M. CohenI recently made a few “fresh starts” in my life; moving countries and changing roles in my career were two of the most significant. With my job, I decided to move away from design leadership and return to being a product designer. However, I didn’t anticipate that going back to the craft would also teach me to be a better leader.I went back to the craft because I missed delivering products and services for people. The transition away from management (where I mainly designed slide decks) back to designing products wasn’t an easy switch; many of the tools and practices have changed over the years. For a while, I asked myself daily if I still “had it”, whatever exactly “it” is. In sharing my reflections and learnings, I hope to spark a bit of curiosity in others, so they too might play with the idea of practicing again. Your technical skills don’t disappear; they morph as you grow in other areas. Recognizing knowledge gapsFirst off, your technical skills don’t disappear; they morph as you grow in other areas. When you move into a leadership role, the scale in which you interact with problems shifts. As a practitioner, you address mostly product-level problems, being responsible to define a customer experience that delivers on the overall strategy. Whereas for a leadership role, the focus shifts to higher-level strategic decisions and supporting their teams to execute on it. Going back to delivering the work requires an entirely different mindset, and it isn’t easy to switch off the management tendencies.I genuinely enjoy managing and creating scaffolding for teams to do their best work. However, over the past few years, I’ve had this lingering feeling that I need to better understand what it takes to deliver products and services in the current environment to show up as an authentic leader.  The higher the level of the manager, the harder it is for them to stay on top of all the new tools and practices needed to deliver on a space that is constantly evolving. As a result, leadership practitioner skills naturally depreciate over time.By focusing on the bigger picture, a manager might also miss the intricacies of how their product actually works. As digital products become more sophisticated, understanding the trade-offs,  complexities, and dependencies. As Rochelle Gold articulates in their article, it’s a risk when there is a gap between where decisions are made and what happens on the ground. “When there is too much distance between where decisions are made and the day-to-day delivery, we risk not understanding what is truly needed.” Rochelle Gold, Head of User Research, NHS Digital Beyond the tooling and capabilities, our field also matured on how to better serve the users impacted by our products. There are simply better ways to design, build, and manage services for the business and for the customers: design justice, equity, ethics and bias in tech, accessibility, disrupting power, liberating technology from capitalism, and trauma-informed design are just some examples.  Understanding each of these areas theoretically is different from actively reflecting and applying learnings in practice.  » Read More

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