2011 Recap: Lessons learned

It’s been a rather hectic & intense year with travel, summits, workshops, etc. Many achievements “unlocked”, so to speak. However, it’s also good to sit back and itemize the critical lessons learned in the course of all the madness of the past year. Here are my top lessons which I will try to carry forward into the new year…

  • Don’t go actively seeking to mentor someone; just let it happen naturally. People should seek you out, not the other way around. (yet, gently let folks know you are available!)
  • Not everyone responds to your instinctive passion for design excellence the same way. Gotta be sensitive to others’ personal and professional motivators and calibrate yourself accordingly, particularly in difficult situations.
  • Always verify someone’s assumptions before suggesting a design idea. You might be wrong, and be unnecessarily intruding into a space not your own.
  • Know when to be efficient, and when to be messy. It’s a balancing act that takes care and sensitivity.
  • Always clarify who’s exactly the driver/owner/contributor (DACI) first, don’t just jump in. Suss out the situation first (and verify with key folks), even if it takes more time. A variant of “measure twice, cut once” when it comes to organizational issues.
  • Especially in firedrill mode, try your very best to be calm, constructive, and optimistic in offering peer design feedback, or even general design strategy advice.
  • Assume constant regular communication / education / repetition because everyone is swamped and rapidly context-shifting from project to project. People often forget what you advised or delivered, so don’t get worked up over it. Just gently remind.

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