Quick reflection: Design as a confidence game

I don’t mean a “con game” whereby someone is getting swindled out of a proper deal and left holding the bag. I mean, there’s a game of coordination and competition amongst stakeholders (Biz, Tech, Marketing, etc.) with diverse (or perhaps at-odds) interests, priorities, goals, agendas that must be somehow mutually enabled into some harmony of purpose and value. For the designer, this often requires tough, smart, negotiated compromise while striving towards an ideal vision of what’s best for the users and the business. And this means, as the designer driving the (user-oriented) end of the deal, you must be confident in your approaches, speak with a voice of conviction (“Have a point of view”, as Citrix CEO Mark Templeton likes to say), and design capably with a sense of ambition to carry the team and company forward, not simply settling for “low-hanging fruit” or “table stakes”. Marshaling a vision that encompasses the widest range of criteria yet addresses the sharpest, focused needs of a distinct persona can be incredibly difficult, and it takes a strong dose of being confident to instill confidence in the team members striving to achieve what seem impossible. However, you must also have the humility and self-awareness to step back and realize when not to overstep your place on the field of play. Sometimes certain levels of accomplishment take more time and slower progress than expected, with small battles cast aside in service of better collaborations.

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