Finally… it’s time.
Listen to the customers & keep the trash bin nearby
I believe most designers have an attachment to their ideas and their work. At most of the interaction design classes, I learned to craft my work, and claim my ownership on my work, and believe my thoughts are valuable. But it’s not what design is meant to do. In the short sprint cycles, we are forced to re-evaluate the value of our ideas every week. What we considered to be a fantastic idea could be proved to be the perfect solution that nobody wants the next week.
It is an essential step for a design student to take: to understand the people and problem. To validate the assumptions by walking out of the room and talking to people. To throw the ideas into the trash bin (or archive folder) without hesitation and move on.
Finding THE idea takes time
Transitioning from a designer’s mind to an entrepreneur’s could be difficult. Fifteen weeks sound like a long time to craft a portfolio piece, but it’s way too short to validate a set of assumptions — it probably takes forever! It is one of the most struggling parts of the process for our team.
Am I confident that our assumptions are validated for our product? When it came closer to the end, I realized that the answer is no. Is it because we don’t talk to enough people and do enough work? It’s not — we chose to tackle a complicated problem, we’ve done everything we could do throughout the fifteen weeks. There’s always more work to be done, but to find the idea that crosses the line of confidence takes time…… with maybe a little bit of luck.
… with people
Acknowledge the differences & allow room to grow
I appreciate proactivity. I tend to take initiatives in group work. But should I expect the others to do the same? If it were in the startup world, I probably would. But what if people in our team are not used to it? This is just one example of many differences in working styles, skill sets, and personalities that exist in our team.
In the beginning, I expected our team to take initiatives, I expected our team to understand project management… I expected our team to be perfect because I felt the responsibility to push ourselves forward. All I saw and felt was the failure, disappointment, and frustration. But we’re not born-entrepreneurs — we’re here to learn how to become good entrepreneurs. I want our team to achieve great success, but I didn’t save space for ourselves to grow.
The closer to the end, the more I am aware of the importance of recognizing my teammates’ strengths and achievements. I still care about the excellence of our work, but I want to pay more attention to our growth and achievements along the way. Sometimes, without a person to say it out loud in the room, others wouldn’t realize the incredible progress they’ve made. Instead of saying “You should…” (or “I think it’ll be great if you…” as the nicer version, cause it’s still the same), I asked myself, “how can I help them to achieve their goal?”
It took a long time to shift the perspective, but I was glad and proud to see that our team went through the fifteen weeks with great learnings and became more proactive, articulative, and united. It was simply the best group work I’ve ever had.
… with myself
How perfect should I expect things to be?
Even though I’ve written down the kind words above, until I started writing this paragraph, I’ve always felt somewhat disappointed about group work. I’ve always compared the result of group work with the four of me in my imagination. It exists because I always set the expectation for myself. Since I’ve set the perfect comparison, working with a group feels like giving up on the excellence of work.
But does that perfect imagination exist? I will always work with people of different skill sets, personalities, and work styles — how can I expect my teammates to contribute different thoughts if they think the same as I do?
At the night of the pitch day, when all of us sat in the bar to celebrate, in the middle of a discussion, Nathalia told me: “You need to be easier on yourself.”
In fact, different people have been telling me the same thing this semester. Am I too hard on myself? Maybe, I never took it seriously. But after I saw the problem arose in group work, as mentioned above, I saw how little room I saved for my teammates to grow, and so did I for myself. I rarely stop at the moment and take a step back to look at how much I’ve learned. In my eyes, what I see is perfection, but not growth.
This is the final takeaway I have after fifteen weeks with three wonderful teammates in Creative Founder class: to appreciate the growth of myself.