… And while she had her own personality, she imbibed a bit of ours as she played these roles for us. Isn’t Alexa us? Isn’t she an amalgamation of all our learnings and behaviours speaking back to us? Maybe that is why it was called an Echo.
…er-indexing on the creative leadership qualities over design management and operational leadership. While a creative visionary naturally would have had taken a lot of bold bets and has big ideas alongside a beautiful portfolio (oh the sight to behold!), often times they would not have the patience or the mindset needed to run the complex machinery of a design organisation at scale (0, 10?, 100!). So what happens then? Team members struggle without good management, flail without tight operations…
I’m always working, whether I’m working or not. I enjoy what I do, so when I get a free moment, I’ll usually spend it doing more or less the same things I do at work. But I don’t think of any of these things — designing, writing, developing apps, consulting or mentoring — as “work” per se, because they’re the things that give me energy and keep me motivated. It just so happens that my idea of non-work activities are also what I am fortunate enough to get paid to do.
From that experience, I learned that sometimes outwardly boring projects — anything business or ads related, free from the shiny aesthetic of consumer-facing experiences — are often the absolute best projects to work on and learn from.
Not many people want to design a dull-gray interface for several months, but what I learned in doing exactly that, was just how important systems thinking is for any design project. And if you’re just starting out in digital product design I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to start with a large, systematic project. Doing so means you’ll have to learn about collaboration, how one small interaction impacts the larger part, and how one key from research or testing can have a cascading influence on future decisions.