The Designer’s Native Ecosystem: Where do you thrive?
Having worked in a variety of physical environments (corner office, cubicle farm, in the basement of my house, and even coffee shops) I’ve become pretty adaptable to getting my work done wherever I am. What’s harder to adapt to is corporate cultures. Though intangible relative to the configuration of your desk, it constitutes a working ecosystem.
How do you measure a corporate culture? I look at a few things in the few few days and weeks of getting to know an organization:
- How many meetings do you and your colleagues attend?
- Are meeting facilitators good about cutting meetings short when appropriate?
- How adaptable are the processes to extreme circumstances?
- How many people need to be involved in decision-making?
- Do people respond to requests in a timely manner?
- Do people show up to meetings on time?
- What methods do you and your colleagues use to communicate?
- Is there an internal advocate for design?
All these things make for a true ecosystem, and like nomads through a landscape, designers encounter dramatic variations from project to project.
You may not always have a choice in the environment in which you work. But being self-aware means that you’re good at taking stock of a corporate culture and identifying where you’ll fit in and where you’ll struggle. You can say to yourself, “The tight deadlines will be good for me, and I don’t mind the frequent meetings, but I don’t have another advocate for design on the project. That could make things tough.” Knowing this about yourself doesn’t then give you an opportunity to make excuses. Instead, acting on this knowledge quickly–asking for help!–can make the difference between a successful project and an unsuccessful one.