Thinking about developing partnerships within and outside your team to drive future growth of…
As I have been recently preparing for launch on a product I designed, I have had more time to ruminate over next steps of my project and what I want to work on next. A goal of mine is uncovering opportunities for growth and impact within the product I am working on and ambitious step to potentially establish partnerships and work with other teammates or teams. This means that in order to do that, I have to know what other people are doing on the design team and related teams and how that feeds into the bigger goal or pillars (small goals) that we are trying to achieve.
Because I had been working so much in one space, I was starting to feel like I was boxing myself in to just my area, which isn’t the best thing to do because I feel as though it affects the mindset to continuously learn and keep a curious mindset to new things. As much as I felt comfortable sticking to my space, this wasn’t an effective way to grow. Old habits started to trickle back into my work and had made me jaded from seeking new knowlege from my surroundings.
If you are a new designer who has been finding themselves stuck to a routine or hasn’t been taking the time to understand how your work contributes to the team as a whole (which can fuel your design and drive future ideas that have yet to exist), here are a few tips that have been useful to me when planning out next steps on the design and to advocate a core user story that should help drive design decisions.
Establish monthly sync ups to share work and strategy
On my team, we have weekly stand-ups and workshop time, but often times we don’t sit down to really talk about our work and how we are working towards our small goals, maybe even the big goal. By understanding how each part of work relates to other parts can lead to undiscovered insights, which can lead to more cross-collaboration amongst teammates or other teams. Personally, I believe that working with other teams and streamlining existing products to create a new design within an ecosystem is more valuable than simply working on one product without the intention of expanding. I had the chance to partner with another product that works back and forth with mine and it was a humbling experience to tackle another problem besides my own and creating a relationship between the two.
If you feel like there is an opportunity to know more about what your teammates are working on, propose to establish a monthly meeting that doesn’t just have people list a quick summary of specific tasks within their project but explaining the progress of their project or projects thus far, maybe reiterating what the project is, and how it has been addressing the user goal and the team goal.
Sit in on research share-outs
When I was working on my project months earlier, I felt as though there was little to no time to attend other meetings not as related to my work. This kind of thinking has isolated myself and has caused me to think very narrowly about my work (with disregard to future initiatives).
I have been making more of an effort to sit in on more research share-outs and have found them extremely useful in filling in the gaps of knowledge with the basics of my work which relates to my product, and gives me insight into other users. In a bigger organization, there can be more obstacles with doing research because of approvals and more crafted planning involved, so listening in on share-outs is effective to keep your users in mind when designing if you don’t have a chance to conduct research on your own.
Read slide decks
Usually, when research is completed, they are compiled into shareable slide decks which are useful in gathering metrics or understanding your users for future design work. Reading decks to understand your team’s work is helpful when you start out in a company or even if you have been working for a while and want to find relatable information to help map out next steps, new features or collaborations in what you are working on. If you need a specific slide deck, don’t hesitate to reach out to the researcher for it if they don’t share it across the team.
If you have a burning desire to know what your team is doing, it’s best to start broad in gathering information and then ask questions as a follow-up. You could be asking all the questions you want about what your teammate is doing, but it can save a lot of their time if you start finding information of previous work they have done first.
Have 1:1s with PMs
If you want to know about anything about a product, from metrics to features, setting up time to talk to a PM is a great way to understand where your work fits in and where the opportunities for future work can happen. Because PMs are usually super busy, you want to make sure you prepare a specific set of questions first or at least have a goal for the 1:1 with what you want to know and gathering information on how you can prepare. Reading decks can be a good way to get a basic understanding of the space you are looking to do more work in and then getting additional information on your proposal.
I realized it’s harder to know what to build and design when you are in the launch stage and you have yet to understand what needs to be done before encountering it post-launch.
Understanding next steps on where to take your product takes time. It takes time to understand the value of your team’s work and how to identify future opportunities within it. If you are ever in a pinch, your team is always open to having you ask questions and there isn’t a judgment to knowing something out of your scope because it is hard to know what everyone is doing.
The message I hope to spread across is not simply fixing small features, but it’s about developing initiatives in which you design solutions to reach that.