By Athena Herrmann RGD, Design Director at Akendi
Are you friends with your design team? If not, now may be the time to start working on your relationship! Designers who are not just colleagues – but friends – are much more likely to go the extra mile for you, enhance your team, and ultimately help you to be more successful.
Just as a friend who works in the service industry can let you know about upcoming deals or set aside that product you love before it goes out of stock, a close bond with the design team can not only simplify your work life, but actually improve your outcomes. Here’s why:
- When designers know a lot about you and your product, they’re more apt to suggest ideas and make recommendations that will benefit you.
- Designers help you communicate your ideas more effectively because they have an innate ability to add clarity to ideas and convey a message with impact.
- Designers back you up and offer support when dealing with the “powers that be.” When you bring a designer to the table, you have a professional at your side who can corroborate and substantiate your points.
- Designers know how to solve problems. They are expert at analyzing complex situations and developing innovative solutions.
- A designer adds a perspective that may not be represented elsewhere in your organization. Their fresh voice can often enhance a conversation and move it in a new direction.
- Designers are creative, fun people. They have great taste in shoes and, at a minimum, brighten up even the most boring meetings!
Start the Relationship Early
So how do you make friends with your designers? Well, it starts with bringing them to the table at the outset of any activity. You may think that this would only complicate an already complex project, but the opposite is true. Building a well-rounded, strategic team from the beginning saves time and effort because it gives everyone the opportunity to ask questions, learn from one another, and clarify the project’s goals and expectations before things get underway. This goes a long way to preventing the surprises that can derail even the most well-planned project.
In fact, when designers contribute throughout a project, they’re able to give you advanced warning of design tradeoffs and compromises that might need to happen down the road. In this way, designers can serve as a lookout and powerful buffer between the business goals and the technical team’s desire to build things faster, cheaper, and easier no matter the consequences. Designers are adept at turning big picture, blue sky goals into language that technical people can understand. As such, they bridge the gap between the high-level desires (we want “wow” and “pizazz”) and the tactical “what” behind the project.
Pull in the Same Direction
Ultimately, when you befriend designers, you gain a team in which all members work together and leverage their respective strengths. You can’t get to the Stanley Cup by waiting until late in the season to bring in talented players, and you need everyone to pull in the same direction to achieve the ultimate goal. A team mentality removes people from their silos and their old ways of thinking (“It’s not your job to think about my job”) which improves communication and, ultimately, leads to better outcomes.
So, bring your new best friend to the table and start thinking about the end product — the experience — from the beginning. With a friend on your team, you’ll be much better placed to achieve glory with your product and within your organization.
Athena Herrmann RGD, is Design Director at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design.