–Engage

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Where are you? I’m hiring … come find me!

So here I am. I’m a successful designer/design manager working a small and growing internet application service provider. My career in this company and the effect that I’m having there are both growing at a nice pace. It’s a small design team and to be honest I don’t think I would want it much bigger. But one day I come to work and my team of 3 becomes a team of 1, ME. So now I am scrambling and the experience gives me a lot of fodder for thinking about hiring, interviewing, and yes, organizging.


Some more background, so you know where I’m coming from.

  • I lead the IxDG
  • I’m taking 2 industrial design classes, and I just read Part 2 of my professor’s Master’s Thesis. about becoming a successful designer.
  • My career spans 2 this continent, in that I’ve lived and worked in both NYC where I am today and the Bay Area.

The Problem
With this in mind and heart I have gained more and more insight into the team members I want and more importantly what I don’t want. What I’m struggling with is that there are so many titles that my HR person is about to have a stroke. (God bless her! and keep her healthy.) What I’ve noticed is that is is just really hard to describe what it is I’m looking for to her in a way that she can understand mainly because it is hard for me to articulate it to myself. The words she is searching for are all “good”: interface design, design, designer, user experience, usability, information architecture, GUI etc.

Based on those and other similar search criteria she ends up sending me mostly usability engineers who are more about evaluation than they are about ideation/creation and especially creativity and at the other extreme are interactive (NOT interaction) designers who are visual designers with technical skills, usually around Flash. Argh!

I’m so frustrated with the results of this job hunt. 4 months into it, I have 1 viable candidate who may or may not be reading this (hopefully he is so he can learn how he needs to present himself to get the job if he wants it) that is I’m sorry to say adequate at best.

Why should it be so hard to find someone who is a true designer, someone with application (not web site) experience, who understands task flows, user context, and yes basic usability. Oh! and the last point that usually breaks the bank is someone who can communicate. I mean really present with passion their work and their ideas in a persuasive way. Where’s the moxy?

Part of me feels this is a NY problem. Is it? I would almost feel better if I knew it was one.

Organizing
So people who are a part of the IxDG community mentioned a lot stuff about the job initiative that has been stalled. To me this is an end to a much bigger problem that we need to solve if we are to organize well and more strategically. We need to train up. We need help from the outside, and we need to advocate across to the other disciplines under the User Experience banner who just aren’t getting it.

This last point seems most poignant at the moment. The HCI, Usability, IA communities think they have it all locked up (overstating a bit), but the reality is that at best only IA is a creative endeavor and ONLY because they add and not remove as part of their processes. But they are not a design oriented discipline. I feel these 3 communities which are juxtaposed and integrated to my own need to grow. Research & Evaluation (HCI), Validation (Usability) and definition and structure (IA) are not enough in this day and age. Even if I brought in behavior and presentation into the mix, this isn’t enough.

Problem definition is still missing. Problem defining is very different from problem relating. Most people relate problems. This means they say what they see. There is no process to dig deeper and uncover the latent unstated and unobserved problems that really require the answering. that is part A.

Part B is the how to create. Creation requires 2 things to thrive–freedom and collaboration. All the above disciplines bring in other sources for input of data, but they are not known for employing a process where 2 or more central nervous systems are actively owning, creating, and defining a solution. Most of these are processes of what I call isolate and critique. Criticism again is not a positive creative endeavor. The freedom part is best described as working with a wide berth. Extend your boundaries way beyond the reasonable and rational.

A lot of people have looked at the IxDG initiative and said, “Do we really need another organization?” I say, “Look at yourselves! There is obviously something you are not getting because we as UX professionals are not done growing.” IxDG unlike Visual Design is a discipline inside UX that can’t be pushed aside. We can’t just say, we can plop the behavior layer on top of the structure like we can with presentation (though we shouldn’t). The level of integration required here is just too strong So, yes, until the design of behavior and “Design” process itself are made more clear within the UX community there is a purpose for a new organization.

But this needs to be about building a unified community out of the sub-disciplines where all the subdisciplines ccan come together. How can we better make these connections? I think UXnet is a great start. But is there something else we can be doing? Is DUX enough? just case studies?

I went this route because I believe that since most practitioners are generalists, they go through stages of focusing on the various sub-disciplines. However, the work practice of most has not included the design of behavior, Interaction Design, as a primary skillset, even when it could be most beneficial to practitioner and to the organizations they are working for. The User Experience community needs a very big hand to help cross-train individuals who need these skills. I hope that one day the IxDG will be far enough along and stable enough so that we can have a job initiative that is more than just a job board but actually one where we help people with their personal growth as User Experience professionals.

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  • http://www.odannyboy.com Dan Saffer

    You might want to target some career/job fairs at universities. CMU has one in February that I could hook you up with.

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