I am currently working my way through the book ‘The Element’ by Sir Ken Robinson, his underlying principle throughout is that if we can unite our natural inclinations with our passions then anything is possible. I know in my own experience when I am working on something I am interested in, the work gets done a lot quicker and usually to a higher quality. So why do I find myself procrastinating, stalling when talking to others in the field, cautious about joining in conversations online and in the real world. Fear. Fear that someone will point and say – you don’t belong here, you don’t know x,y,z!
What has changed? Last night we had a frank and open talk by Steve Portigal and what happens in a typical project in their consultancy. One thing he said that inspired me was ” I’ll show you our framework, so you have something to push against”. He wasn’t saying that his was the right way, rather here is something that you can build on – take forward in your own way. I now realise, we can’t standardise Design Ethnography, Experience Research, User research…what ever you want to call it – and thats okay. But we can talk about what WE do and allow others to talk about that. (A root of this thought lies in the wall of terminology activity that the DE students undertook this week, more on that later).
So talking about what we do is the first step. If we and clients understand, document and communicate what we do, as a field of practitioners and buyers we can benefit from the work of others. Instead of building walls around ourselves for protection, we should open the gates and let people wander in and have a nosy. Therefor building a community not a minefield. Can we replace competition with collaboration, instead of being overworked and exhausted can we connect individuals and companies who are well suited? I am not naive enough to think that it will all become rosy, but I hope that if we can accept and understand our differences, we can also see what we have in common, especially the values that underly our work. Though this can only happen if we are able to talk honestly about what we do, without fear and ridicule dictating our interactions.
So what can I (we) do?
Can we learn to ‘pay it forward’ in Design Ethnography?
We need to understand and define what we do, so we can tell others.
We need to understand and define what we do, so we can tell clients.
We need to understand and define what we do, so we can do our job properly.
We need to understand and define what we do, so we can say no to jobs we can’t complete.
Others need to understand and define what they do, so they can tell us.
Others need to understand and define what they do, so they can tell clients.
Others need to understand and define what they do, so they can do their job properly.
Others need to understand and define what they do, so they can say no to jobs they can’t complete.
Pause before you say yes to that next job. Question yourself, why are you taking it, is someone more suited? Can you connect that potential client with a researcher/company that will deliver what they need? Cat Macaulay said recently, ” in our business a successful project is one where you get hired again”, that gives me ‘something to push against’. I think a successful project is finding that client that you would like to work with again, because the values, project process and outcomes and steps after came together in a way that allowed everyone involved to find their element.