Event Notes: On Some Soft Skills for Designers

This session was hosted by DocuSign, as part of SF Design Week 2018. The designers at DocuSign talked about how soft skills helped two of their past projects.

There are a number of things I’m sure we’ve heard over and over again as designers. And it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves once again, because soft skills will make you a truly great designer.

What can you do when disagreement happens?

  • Go back to the original problem statement
  • Research to back design decisions up
  • Have EMPATHY for your coworkers. You’re in this together. See where they’re coming. It’s not about proving you’re right. It’s about building the right thing with your partners.
  • GOOD: Debate on the topic, facts
  • BAD: Attack person

Be Courageous

  • Have courage to ask questions (as many as you can), even if everyone else is on the same page — you can disagree to something. You have to ask seven questions before you give up. You will help your team get better.
  • When there’s no book can help you, just do it and adjust as needed.
  • Attitude Don’t do it if you’re not serious about it, or can’t do it. Know when to say no.
  • What if you fail?You’re going to fuck it up. And that’s totally fine. Learn from it.

Be a leader / Influence

  • When you lead a project, guide the team towards the goal
  • Align the team: Value/Risk evaluation framework – similar to effort / impact framework
  • Don’t just execute. Make your influence.
  • Make your problem visible. Have convos with other people (maybe leaders). Be honest with your concerns. Print work out. Put on the wall. People will start offering help.
  • Write down & share accomplishments. Make people feel acknowledged.
  • Be designer representative, consistently.

RACI – decision making framework

  • R – responsible (the doers)
  • A – accountable (decision maker)
  • C – consulted
  • I – informed

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