This last week marked the start of a new journey in my life. I started the MA Digital Experience Design program at Hyper Island UK in Manchester as part of DXD Crew 2 (the second group of students doing this program). After just 5 days, I can already say with my full heart that this is exactly the place that I need to be right now in my career, and in my life. I’ll add a side note here:There was an initial hesitation on my part in going to a “non-academic” master’s program outside the traditional model of university education. After this week, I laugh at the idea of attending another university to do a masters in design. No other program in my opinion could offer the type of education that Hyper Island provides in order to develop successful design professionals (and it’s only been a week!). I’ll let you know if I change my mind on this opinion later.
The first week of the program is aptly named “Hyper Island Way Week”, wherein we experienced the processes, methodologies and theories that the school is founded on. It also kickstarted the process to intentionally develop what our culture and group dynamics would be.
The core tenet of the program is experiential based learning…and we experienced A LOT. In addition to experience, the program stresses reflection. I’ve never reflected on my life or my experiences so much as in this last week. For the initiated, it can only be described as designer therapy. Keeping in line with the idea of reflection, I wanted to re-start this blog into a platform to document my thoughts and learnings for the remainder of this program.
The amount of “stuff” we learned and experienced this week is too much to try and document so I’m only going to reflect on my biggest take aways from the week:
1. Power of Personality
We are all human. We all have histories, traumas, emotions, and experiences that have shaped our lives. It’s amazing how quickly and deeply you can connect with total strangers by sharing these stories. If you want to develop an intimate working group with your team, get to know each other. REALLY get to know each other. Openness & transparency are key to creating a trusting team.
2. Personal vs Professional
In the “working world” we are often taught to leave our lives at the door and enter a world of “professionalism”. However, work and life are not two separate entities. When a loved one passes, you split with your partner, your stressed from moving, these all affect your working behaviours. Teams need to provide space for people to share their lives and feelings so everyone is on the same page. Your team is there to support you, but they need to know how you are feeling.
3. Reflect. Then reflect some more
We learning by doing. But simply “doing” doesn’t provide enough of the tools required for understanding, and more importantly development. Every experience should be reflected on. This applies to both personal and group reflection. No two experiences are alike, and by understanding the group’s reflection it can make yours shine brighter.
- What happened that affected me?
- What did/do I feel about this?
- What did I learn?
Earlier I wrote that this week was like designer therapy, reflection will do that to you.
Beyond your personal reflection, your peers will be your greatest champions to help you develop and succeed. They can see and experience a side of you that is called the “blind spot” or “what I don’t know about me”. Feedback has scary, often negative connotations, but when it’s done properly it can have a hugely positive impact. Being a good feedback provider takes finesse, skill, and experience. But watch out, when it’s done poorly it can do more damage than good. Use it wisely.
These 4 points are just the broadest of takeaways from this last week. I was amazed to be able to see my own personal development take shape throughout the week, and was finally able to find “my voice” in the crew. I’m really looking forward to exploring further who I am as a designer and a team player.
Next week starts “Creativity Week”, and I can’t wait to begin.