Yesterday was my last day at US Digital, and the good will I felt from all of my co-workers there was wonderful. I arrived at my office to find it decorated in a matter only Dwight Schrute could have orchestrated:
Sitting on my desk (between the drab brown and gray balloons) was a box full of maple bars. Over the course of the day I would shake more hands and receive more kind words than I ever could have hoped for. Their graciousness has been overwhelming.
As I enter this new chapter in my continuing relationship with interaction design, I’d be remiss not to reflect on a few of the lessons I learned while working for this remarkable company.
- Really get to know your co-workers. Regardless of how your personalities click or don’t click, talking with someone on a human level will increase your understanding of one-another and ultimately improve your communication skills.
- Talk to other departments. In hindsight, I would have loved to work more closely with customer service to educate both of our departments as to how our web properties might impact work flow.
- Standardize your department’s service requests. We all want to be everyone’s buddy, but if we attend to every knock on the door with equal priority, no truly urgent tasks will ever be completed. A set-in-stone way of submitting requests will not only improve your team’s productivity, but ultimately give your colleagues a more reliable turn-around time.
- Ask questions. Seriously. A lot of questions. I’m still a little fuzzy on how encoders and inclinometers function, but I asked enough questions to empower myself and my team to market them in an aesthetically-pleasing and relevant way.
- Always ask “why,” and don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. This occasionally-irritating bit of inquisitiveness can save entire projects from developmental purgatory.
- Get away from the glowing box every so often. I know from experience that a game of air hockey away from your desk can go a long way.
- Present with conviction. Your opinions will come across much more accurately if you communicate in an articulate and compelling way.
- Practice the fine art of compromise. Argumentation has it’s own virtues, but allowing yourself an amount of flexibility will result in budgetary and time constraints impacting you much less severely.
- Be passionate in all that you do. Apathy is contagious, and enthusiasm is a choice. Every project benefits from minds actively engaged in the task at hand.
- Keep your higher purpose in sight. What are your goals beyond this job? Find them out, and work toward them in your day-to-day tasks; you’ll see the difference in the quality of your output.