We often talk about the idea of unicorn designers or developers — something I laugh at a little bit because much of our industry is comprised of people who do a lot more than just their speciality or field.
The tech/app/internet field is rife with not just designers, developers or business people, but a group that understands, stretches out and perhaps overreaches (in the best way) into fields they don’t fully understand. We are a curious lot, a pioneering bunch, and we like to tinker. We are thirsty for knowledge, always seeking out that which furthers our own ambition.
Unfortunately, we like to dissect, categorize, label and put our people into boxes. If I were to explain to someone what I did, the CliffsNotes version essentially would be an interaction or web designer (and even that feels inapt). But if I were given room to expound, I would explain that I own and operate a small design studio — of which comes the job of being a business person, a founder, a principal, administrator, project manager, human resources allocator and, oh yeah, I like to code too. Fortunately, I get to dabble in all of it as well as share these duties with two other people in our little group, without whom Weightshift would not be where it is today.
What the cross-pollination of services and interests does is create empathy, understanding and broader strokes to paint with — knowing what the other hand is doing. In our compartmentalized, specialist designations, we are encumbered with responsibilities that seem one-dimensional, whereas our industry is far from that. It is a space of various dimensions and is ever-expanding as we blur the lines between software, hardware and emotion — a magical combination occupying not just the mind, but the heart.
Groups, organizations and companies need to embrace this vast breadth of knowledge that we’re striving to achieve because just being a designer, a developer, a project manager, a biz-dev person, a community manager or whatever-amazing-job-only-our-industry-could-have-created is reducing us to the plainest versions of ourselves.
We are the sum of our parts. Our pieces make up our whole. It’s the parts, the pieces — the people — that elevate your band of the-smartest-people-in-the-room to great heights and beyond.
This post first appeared in October 2013 on The Pastry Box Project.