“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

Re-looking at T-types and collaboration in UX

Rethinking my T-type (maybe even my I-type) against the commodity, firmness, desirability framework ala Vitruvius. I’m pretty much focused on commodity, utility or usefulness.

This doesn’t mean I don’t understand the greater whole that the triumvirate express together so well. It means that my self-admitted mindset and bias focuses my attention and my skillsets have matured next to that mindset against a sharp focus on making sure that solutions first and foremost fit the needs and motivations for people.

I love desirability and understand the power of the emotional story that an amazing product or service can co-create with people. But for whatever reasons my mindset and skillsets have not led me in the same direction of mastery in this direction as it has in the other direction. The same can be true for what makes up “firmitas” which breaks down to both usability and performance. This can equally just be called engineering. Making it right.

Utilitas – utility – Getting to the right design = research, analysis, synthesis
Firmitas – usability and performance – Getting it to work right
Venustas – Beautiful or desirable – Getting it to feel right

All three are equally important. I know a few people who are a true M-Type person who’s special ability to change mindsets and who have the special discipline to learn all the mindsets and skillsets required to be effective, efficient at quality being an M-Type. But hey, aspirations are great.

But for me, I have found comfort and success with my focus on utility and my ability to collaborate with others who compliment me.

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  • emenel

    Dave, I love this little piece of self reflection. We too often equate “success” with things like “unicorns” (blech), which puts pressure for everybody to be M-shaped (I like this term much better). Understanding the value of the other pieces of the puzzle is equally as important as mastering one of them – especially as a design leader in an organization where your role becomes more and more about fostering the balance of the three aspects across a team, rather than doing them all yourself.

    We all struggle to find our place and specialness in our practice, a journey that can take a lifetime.


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