Darko Miličić, #2 overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft.

The New Job Requirements

Having talent is awesome, but it doesn’t mean you are good. It just means you are talented.

I wrote this “job requirements” email after a particularly harrowing experience with a talented designer I was expected to manage.

Skills Required:

  1. Ability to write.
    You must be able to piece together more than two sentences at a time. Specifically, you must understand how to communicate without bullet-points.
  2. Ability to ask questions.
    If you don’t understand something — whether it is the material at hand, or simply what is expected of you — ASK!
  3. Ability to say, “No.”
    We’re all human, and we all make unreasonable demands. Sometimes, you’ll be asked to deliver more than is reasonable. Let us know.
  4. Ability to set expectations and meet them.
    If you say you can get something done, we’ll believe you, until you don’t. Then we won’t worry about it again.
     … and as a corollary to both #3 and #4 …
  5. Willingness to work yourself to death when you were either too stupid to say, “No,” or you set unreasonable expectations for yourself.
    Your problems are not our problems, and they shouldn’t become our problems. If it gets to this point, not only will we not care but, short of a hospitalized injury or immediate family member’s death, we won’t even sympathize.

Talent isn’t enough. Talent may allow you to coast, but it won’t allow you to accomplish. You must understand your problem space, you must be able to communicate your ideas and your concerns, and, finally, you must always deliver on expectations.

As you get better, you learn to ask more questions early, you establish reasonable expectations for yourself (often by saying, “No,” to unreasonable demands), and you exceed those expectations through clear communication and by improving your abilities. You must always deliver on agreed upon expectations, whether those expectations are reasonable or not. If people are unable to make decisions based on expectations of your work (or your word), you are, quite simply, not good. Talented, maybe, but definitely not good.

This, and many more (far more) valuable lessons for working with others can be found in Dan Brown’s, Designing Together.

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