After working across agencies, tech companies, and startups small and large, I’ve developed a few beliefs which I think help make great work happen. These are not comprehensive or set in stone, but I hope they give you an idea of the kinds of environments I try to create and be a part of.
My teams build to learn and learn to create impact. This means being flexible and open to deal with drastic changes of expectations or circumstances. Every piece of work is discardable and ‘darlings’ are killed routinely once they served their purpose. This is not a failure, but essential to continuous innovation.
Focussing on outcomes also means measuring everything we do. If you don’t measure it, you might as well not do it.
My drawings are ugly and my slides rarely have words. Let’s think, sketch, and problem solve together, in the same room, with representation of all teams. Let’s live edit code in a browser, play with prototypes, share research tasks. Then we’ll automatically be on the same page.
Anything that doesn’t move a team closer to its vision must have a really good reason for existing. Creating collateral - more often than not - is not one of those things. Whenever there is a need to put together some slides for internal communication, it represents a lost opportunity for collaboration. Instead, let’s get stuff done, together.
Having a clear story for the eventual goal a team is working towards provides the ultimate alignment, tie breaker, road map, and more. Before and throughout any project, I drill into the ‘why’ and make sure everyone on a team shares a clear vision. Often this requires nitpicking on individual words in mission statements and OKRs, but it is always an effort that immediately pays dividends.
I focus my efforts on breaking down the complexity of new and wicked problems, leading to unique solutions and I build cultures that empower teams to create original work. Time and talent are too valuable to waste on creating a slightly different version of what already exists. Besides, a cover band never changed the world.
“Breakthroughs happen when the team takes risks, trusts their instincts and speaks their mind – not when they tiptoe around each other.” (Stephen Gates)
When in a room with bright professionals, everyone has an obligation to share their professional views - and be open to having their mind changed. Only then, we learn from each other and grow together. I love being wrong.
The more experience I get, the more I learn what we don’t know for sure. Any project built on too many assumptions will eventually collapse. By challenging the most basic assumptions and best practices and focussing only on proven facts we can concentrate on what’s in front of us, find new ways of approaching a problem, and build a solid foundation for further experiments, testing, and learning. Instead of omitting what may seem obvious, and anticipating future user needs or pain points based on experience, playing the fool to confirm everyone shares the same foundational understanding of present facts often helps in the long run.
Proliferation of learning is inherent to my work, not an extra. I seek out new ideas, viewpoints, and more so I never stop learning and share what I’ve learned with my teams and through online channels and industry events. Part of this is educating non-designers in how to apply my creative methods to their problems. When we grow shared understanding, collaboration becomes ever easier.