golden opportunity, a case and a very unusual proposal

21 Jun 2006 - 10:19pm
8 years ago
7 replies
670 reads
Simon Asselbergs
2005

Hi All,

I am almost upto doing something which is rather unusual, I guess. I want some opinions of the most passionate interaction designers of you. It might be insane, it might be insane but good for our profession. You think you have the almost ideal job, and might to do something crazy, to get it even better. But by doing it, you might lose your job or credits.

The case:

This is my first job and I am their first and only interaction designer, a medium size company (300 employees). They never made a job offering for interaction design. They didn't heard what it is, if it wasn't me to tell them. I just wrote them a mail about the benefits of Interaction Design and what we could mean to each other. They were enthousiastic, so everything went natural and well. I work there for hardly two months and I see so much oppportunties and inspiring challenges for interaction design I know those are waiting to be dealt with, it's like being a kid in the candystore.

However, they are so far away of understanding the real potential of interaction design as a discipline, that it's sometimes so hard to make them understand what they really need of an interaction designer and how much it could improve their understanding and of potential for their products. It was quite hard to make them understand so far. I only had 1 hour to tell them at the job interview before I started.

In those to months they gave me some compliments. Hell, they might even want to keep me for good. The latter I don't know. But I am a little impatient with getting results, because I know when I see an opportunity and how to make my hands dirty. Like everyone els on this list.

I already said to my boss, just google "interaction design vacature" (dutch vacature= english job offering), see 10 of the search results and then you will have a better idea what it is required from interaction designers. It will become clear what you might expect of me. I already said it twice. I must say I find my boss a exceptionally good manager, that at least means a lot to me. But he forgets to google it.

What if I propose them something quite unusual (I guess):
"Why not inform yourself? Publish a job offering about my job, maybe even extended with the knowledge of a google "interaction designer vacature (ed: job offering [Eng])" and then see what they tell you what interaction design is and how you can reap the benefits. The more you know what you might expect from my profession, the better I can materialize it." I could lose my job in a snap, because they can find someone more suitable for what tey want. But if not, I could also be used in a better way. And that thought teases me like mad.

It is better for them to know my value and usefulness in the market. And better for me they exactly know what I have them to offer compared to others. The sooner the better. I don't like to make large income. I like to compete and I am passionate about my profession: Interaction Design.

How would you react if you where my boss and you're in the mentioned circumstances?

Simon

--
_______________________________________________

Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow Pages

http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10

Comments

22 Jun 2006 - 12:21am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Hello Simon,

Let's see if I understand you correctly: you want your boss to do more work,
not less?
That seems like unreasonable suggestion to me.

Your other approach of seeing design opportunities and acting on them,
showing tangible product improvements should be more fruitful, if somewhat
frustrating, especially in the beginning, when you need to establish your
credibility (similar approaches worked for me in the past).

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 6/21/06, Simon Asselbergs <interaction-designer at lycos.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi All,
>
> I am almost upto doing something which is rather unusual, I guess. I want
> some opinions of the most passionate interaction designers of you. It might
> be insane, it might be insane but good for our profession. You think you
> have the almost ideal job, and might to do something crazy, to get it even
> better. But by doing it, you might lose your job or credits.
>
> The case:
>
> This is my first job and I am their first and only interaction designer, a
> medium size company (300 employees). They never made a job offering for
> interaction design. They didn't heard what it is, if it wasn't me to tell
> them. I just wrote them a mail about the benefits of Interaction Design and
> what we could mean to each other. They were enthousiastic, so everything
> went natural and well. I work there for hardly two months and I see so much
> oppportunties and inspiring challenges for interaction design I know those
> are waiting to be dealt with, it's like being a kid in the candystore.
>
> However, they are so far away of understanding the real potential of
> interaction design as a discipline, that it's sometimes so hard to make them
> understand what they really need of an interaction designer and how much it
> could improve their understanding and of potential for their products. It
> was quite hard to make them understand so far. I only had 1 hour to tell
> them at the job interview before I started.
>
> In those to months they gave me some compliments. Hell, they might even
> want to keep me for good. The latter I don't know. But I am a little
> impatient with getting results, because I know when I see an opportunity and
> how to make my hands dirty. Like everyone els on this list.
>
> I already said to my boss, just google "interaction design vacature"
> (dutch vacature= english job offering), see 10 of the search results and
> then you will have a better idea what it is required from interaction
> designers. It will become clear what you might expect of me. I already said
> it twice. I must say I find my boss a exceptionally good manager, that at
> least means a lot to me. But he forgets to google it.
>
> What if I propose them something quite unusual (I guess):
> "Why not inform yourself? Publish a job offering about my job, maybe even
> extended with the knowledge of a google "interaction designer vacature (ed:
> job offering [Eng])" and then see what they tell you what interaction design
> is and how you can reap the benefits. The more you know what you might
> expect from my profession, the better I can materialize it." I could lose my
> job in a snap, because they can find someone more suitable for what tey
> want. But if not, I could also be used in a better way. And that thought
> teases me like mad.
>
> It is better for them to know my value and usefulness in the market. And
> better for me they exactly know what I have them to offer compared to
> others. The sooner the better. I don't like to make large income. I like to
> compete and I am passionate about my profession: Interaction Design.
>
> How would you react if you where my boss and you're in the mentioned
> circumstances?
>
> Simon
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
> Pages
>
>
> http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

22 Jun 2006 - 9:41am
Michael Micheletti
2006

Hi Simon,

Business managers are usually interested in improvements or suggestions
that will help them be more successful or the buisness be more
profitable. So making a business case for interaction design may be a
good direction to take.

Try buying a copy of "The Inmates are Running The Asylum" by Alan Cooper
for each of your decision makers. It's an inexpensive and readable
paperback that speaks well to businesspeople about why design is
important. Read it first yourself so that you can engage them in
conversations afterwards.

I've learned from experience that a company values my work as a designer
more after I've helped them solve some problems by using design skills.
Try simple and quick proven techniques, like paper prototyping during
iterations of a software specification, and those around you will begin
to see the value of what you bring.

I hope that this is helpful. Good luck with your work,

Michael Micheletti

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Simon Asselbergs
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:20 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] golden opportunity,a case and a very unusual
proposal

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]

However, they are so far away of understanding the real potential of
interaction design as a discipline, that it's sometimes so hard to make
them understand what they really need of an interaction designer and how
much it could improve their understanding and of potential for their
products. It was quite hard to make them understand so far. I only had 1
hour to tell them at the job interview before I started.
...
How would you react if you where my boss and you're in the mentioned
circumstances?

Simon

22 Jun 2006 - 10:47am
Josh Seiden
2003

Simon,

The best way to demonstrate your value is to deliver value.

If I were your manager, I would be frustrated by these meta-discussions. I
would try to direct your boundless energy and enthusiasm into the product.

Be patient. Deliver good work. Make yourself indispensable. Here's your
goal: make yourself so useful that they won't consider having a meeting
about the product without inviting you. That will be your proof that you've
demonstrated the value of interaction design.

JS

> -----Original Message-----
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant
> quoted material.]
>
> Hi All,
>
> I am almost upto doing something which is rather unusual, I
> guess. I want some opinions of the most passionate
> interaction designers of you. It might be insane, it might be
> insane but good for our profession. You think you have the
> almost ideal job, and might to do something crazy, to get it
> even better. But by doing it, you might lose your job or credits.
>

22 Jun 2006 - 12:56pm
jbellis
2005

Simon,
Lie down on the couch. Let me see if I understand this.

1) You accomplished something really great: you solicited and succeeded in
creating a Ux role for yourself where none previously existed.
2) The company is pretty decent but you're frustrated with the slow pace
with which your role is being embraced, and it shows in the product results.

3) You're saying that you are thinking of telling your employer the
following: "I don't feel we are seeing eye-to-eye on my role. I propose a
little exercise. Why don't you post a job opening for the role I am
currently filling? You will get lots of solicitations explaining Ux, and
this might help. If you find a better candidate, that's a risk I'll take."

4) You want us well-adjusted Ux folks to approve this insane plan? (Sorry,
I'm tipping my hand.)

By the way, are you a full-time employee or a contractor/short-term?

Thanks, Jack

----- Original Message -----
From: "Simon Asselbergs" <interaction-designer at lycos.com>
To: <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 11:19 PM
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] golden opportunity,a case and a very unusual
proposal

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]
>
> Hi All,
>
> I am almost upto doing something which is rather unusual, I guess. I want
some opinions of the most passionate interaction designers of you. It might
be insane, it might be insane but good for our profession. You think you
have the almost ideal job, and might to do something crazy, to get it even
better. But by doing it, you might lose your job or credits.
>
> The case:
>
> This is my first job and I am their first and only interaction designer, a
medium size company (300 employees). They never made a job offering for
interaction design. They didn't heard what it is, if it wasn't me to tell
them. I just wrote them a mail about the benefits of Interaction Design and
what we could mean to each other. They were enthousiastic, so everything
went natural and well. I work there for hardly two months and I see so much
oppportunties and inspiring challenges for interaction design I know those
are waiting to be dealt with, it's like being a kid in the candystore.
>
> However, they are so far away of understanding the real potential of
interaction design as a discipline, that it's sometimes so hard to make them
understand what they really need of an interaction designer and how much it
could improve their understanding and of potential for their products. It
was quite hard to make them understand so far. I only had 1 hour to tell
them at the job interview before I started.
>
> In those to months they gave me some compliments. Hell, they might even
want to keep me for good. The latter I don't know. But I am a little
impatient with getting results, because I know when I see an opportunity and
how to make my hands dirty. Like everyone els on this list.
>
> I already said to my boss, just google "interaction design vacature"
(dutch vacature= english job offering), see 10 of the search results and
then you will have a better idea what it is required from interaction
designers. It will become clear what you might expect of me. I already said
it twice. I must say I find my boss a exceptionally good manager, that at
least means a lot to me. But he forgets to google it.
>
> What if I propose them something quite unusual (I guess):
> "Why not inform yourself? Publish a job offering about my job, maybe even
extended with the knowledge of a google "interaction designer vacature (ed:
job offering [Eng])" and then see what they tell you what interaction design
is and how you can reap the benefits. The more you know what you might
expect from my profession, the better I can materialize it." I could lose my
job in a snap, because they can find someone more suitable for what tey
want. But if not, I could also be used in a better way. And that thought
teases me like mad.
>
> It is better for them to know my value and usefulness in the market. And
better for me they exactly know what I have them to offer compared to
others. The sooner the better. I don't like to make large income. I like to
compete and I am passionate about my profession: Interaction Design.
>
> How would you react if you where my boss and you're in the mentioned
circumstances?
>
> Simon
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
Pages
>
>
http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

22 Jun 2006 - 1:56pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Baynes, Crispin wrote:
"Why don't you ask your boss if you can schedule a time for a Ux seminar or
workshop that will not only allow
you a forum to explain..."

That's very good and workable suggestion. Do couple Interaction Design brown
bag lunches (ask your boss to finance the food - that's reasonable request).
Choose specific problem and give several simple design solutions (don't
forget to toss some paper planes around the room).

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On 6/22/06, Baynes, Crispin <cbaynes at ritasue.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Simon,
>
> This sounds like a ridiculous plan that could see you lose your job - how
> are you going to explain what happened to your next potential employer?
> I am sure that a lot of people in this groundbreaking space have to
> educate
> their peers and managers on a daily basis on the value of UX and their
> roles. I am also sure that the majority (at least the sane ones) do this
> by
> producing solid work, with tangible results. You have a wonderful
> community
> here where you can draw upon many examples and business cases that can be
> used to educate your boss. Trust me, he/she boss hired you because they
> feel
> you have the potential to add value. They don't need to go through the
> hiring process again. Now it's your turn to demonstrate this by being a
> proactive advocate of UX in the company. Why don't you ask your boss if
> you
> can schedule a time for a Ux seminar or workshop that will not only allow
> you a forum to explain what you do and how you can add value but it will
> make you look proactive and guess what - you'll keep your job!
> Good Luck
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Simon
> Asselbergs
> Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 11:20 PM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] golden opportunity, a case and a very unusual
> proposal
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> Hi All,
>
> I am almost upto doing something which is rather unusual, I guess. I want
> some opinions of the most passionate interaction designers of you. It
> might
> be insane, it might be insane but good for our profession. You think you
> have the almost ideal job, and might to do something crazy, to get it even
> better. But by doing it, you might lose your job or credits.
>
> The case:
>
> This is my first job and I am their first and only interaction designer, a
> medium size company (300 employees). They never made a job offering for
> interaction design. They didn't heard what it is, if it wasn't me to tell
> them. I just wrote them a mail about the benefits of Interaction Design
> and
> what we could mean to each other. They were enthousiastic, so everything
> went natural and well. I work there for hardly two months and I see so
> much
> oppportunties and inspiring challenges for interaction design I know those
> are waiting to be dealt with, it's like being a kid in the candystore.
>
> However, they are so far away of understanding the real potential of
> interaction design as a discipline, that it's sometimes so hard to make
> them
> understand what they really need of an interaction designer and how much
> it
> could improve their understanding and of potential for their products. It
> was quite hard to make them understand so far. I only had 1 hour to tell
> them at the job interview before I started.
>
> In those to months they gave me some compliments. Hell, they might even
> want
> to keep me for good. The latter I don't know. But I am a little impatient
> with getting results, because I know when I see an opportunity and how to
> make my hands dirty. Like everyone els on this list.
>
> I already said to my boss, just google "interaction design vacature"
> (dutch
> vacature= english job offering), see 10 of the search results and then you
> will have a better idea what it is required from interaction designers. It
> will become clear what you might expect of me. I already said it twice. I
> must say I find my boss a exceptionally good manager, that at least means
> a
> lot to me. But he forgets to google it.
>
> What if I propose them something quite unusual (I guess):
> "Why not inform yourself? Publish a job offering about my job, maybe even
> extended with the knowledge of a google "interaction designer vacature
> (ed:
> job offering [Eng])" and then see what they tell you what interaction
> design
> is and how you can reap the benefits. The more you know what you might
> expect from my profession, the better I can materialize it." I could lose
> my
> job in a snap, because they can find someone more suitable for what tey
> want. But if not, I could also be used in a better way. And that thought
> teases me like mad.
>
> It is better for them to know my value and usefulness in the market. And
> better for me they exactly know what I have them to offer compared to
> others. The sooner the better. I don't like to make large income. I like
> to
> compete and I am passionate about my profession: Interaction Design.
>
> How would you react if you where my boss and you're in the mentioned
> circumstances?
>
> Simon
>
> --
> _______________________________________________
>
> Search for businesses by name, location, or phone number. -Lycos Yellow
> Pages
>
>
> http://r.lycos.com/r/yp_emailfooter/http://yellowpages.lycos.com/default.asp
> ?SRC=lycos10
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

22 Jun 2006 - 2:11pm
Katie Albers
2005

Well, first of all, Jack is right. For a variety of reasons, that is
a very bad idea. It not only leaves you without a job (because even
if they don't find someone better, it will lead to their thinking
badly about you), and it leaves them with a bitter taste in their
mouths about IxD...no one will win. I suggest a multi-pronged
approach:

1) There are many job descriptions for IxD practitioners out there.
look through those (you can find them on job boards as well as in
professional sources) and cull out some (4 or 5, say) that are for
companies in business similar to your company's and that conform to
the way you see IxD.

Include a description of your job as you understand it. Those other
listings will help you word things and put them in a coherent form.

2) You say you wrote them an email that got them to create a whole
new job in a whole new practice, just for you! Excellent! Now go
through that email and examine it with an eye to how to translate it
into practice. Come up with actual deliverables and processes that
will allow you to make the contribution they are expecting to see
from you. Describe what you need from the existing company structure
in order to be able to deliver. Describe what you will give them in
exchange and how they will benefit.

Use your original email as an outline for this, like so:
-[Benefit quoted from original email]
--Your contribution
--Your deliverable
--Conditions on their part that will make contribution possible
--Why they care

Yes that's likely to wind up being somewhat repetitive. Just try to
use new words to say the same thing.

3) Find some resources -- preferably articles or blog entries -- from
people like Cooper (always good because engineers frequently cite
VisualBasic as some perfect tool for building usable
software...except Alan Cooper, father of Visual Basic, who considers
it pretty much unforgivable from a UCD standpoint), Don Norman, Jakob
Nielsen, et al. Try to choose authors who are either acknowledged
gurus in the IxD world and if possible, in the field of the company.
Do a little research and find out what the benefits have been of the
IxD work of these people. Type that up -- just put it in outline
form, don't spend hours trying to compose elegant prose.

5) Ask your manager for a meeting in which to discuss how you can
best integrate into the team. When he accepts, send him an agenda
that includes pointers to the files you've created.

6) Print all that stuff out (yes, print. On paper.) Put the whole
package together with a top level request for a chance to demonstrate
the value of this practice on a particular project. Do 1 short
paragraph summarizing each of the document groups I've outlined
above...not each document, each document *group*. Each paragraph
should be a couple sentences -- bullet points are better.

7) Put the packet you created in Step 6 on your manager's desk as
soon as he accepts the meeting.

8) Take a second copy for him with you to the meeting, along with a
copy for yourself.

Don't get drawn into arguing points. Just keep reiterating that you
want the chance to demonstrate your value on this team and that this
is what it will take to do it. Don't get hot and bothered. Don't get
upset. If your manager disagrees with something and he's got a point,
briefly negotiate a change. If your manager disagrees with something
and he doesn't have a point, simply say "I'm trying to demonstrate my
value to this company, and while I realize that it may seem
[awkward/difficult/unusual], in order for me to do so, I need to be
able to do this. Is there any way you can see that I can do this
without [thing you need]?

The point is that you don't ask your boss to do anything that he has
to remember, or react to over time. You do the research and you show
it to him. It's pretty clear that they want to include IxD, just tell
them how to go about it. My guess is that they'll be very agreeable
as soon as they have something clear-cut to work with. Your job (and
you're very lucky to have this opportunity) is to tell them what they
want. And then deliver it.

Good luck.

Katie

27 Jun 2006 - 1:57pm
jbellis
2005

Simon,
(Now that some dust has settled... sheesh. Is it safe?)

1) I too was going to recommend "Institutionalization of Usability, A
Step-by-Step Guide." I don't suggest that you will necessarily execute a
single item in it, but it will change what you perceive to be the road you
are walking. It sort of makes you appreciate that the logistics of your task
are less like "improving an interface" than, say, "building a democracy in
the
rubble of a dictatorship." (The dictator was the command line, with his
harsh demand that users learn his language.) I work at a company that is
right on page 1 of that book. Getting them to page 2 (out of 300?) will be
measurable success.
2) (I think?) you've accomplished the hardest part of many careers: breaking
into a field. Unless it was merely luck, it took some pretty good
sales skills. You have to decide if you want to exercise that same level of
skill to sell within the walls, now that you're inside. It sounds like you
thought you were taking a Ux job but you're actually a reluctant(?) "change
agent."
3) Your company might not know, care, or agree to what you think your
mission is. There are limits to how rapidly you can change them. Read this
great two-page explanation (from the QA/test domain)...
http://www.jrothman.com/Papers/Whatdotheypayyoutodo.html and do some
realignment.
4) Instead of ceding control of your resume to a company that probably "has
bigger fish to fry" take control yourself. Write out bullet items that would
be hypothetical accomplishments at your current company, that you would use
upon selling yourself to a next company... even if that never comes to pass.
Then set out to accomplish them.
If they're meager, so be it.Your current company will benefit nonetheless.
5) I'm not strong myself on the arm-twisting side of the job, but I'd also
recommend emphasizing the training angle... perhaps sessions that show how
great software does what it does. I'm guessing it might be easier
to influence folks by focusing on other software, rather than theirs.
Good luck, Jack

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