Vikki’s blog article about the correct place of UX design discipline in organisation raised lot of memories to my mind. I had a time in my career when I was working as a UX graphic team leader under the umbrella of product marketing. It was really inspiring time, because the atmosphere was…well, it was a marketing type of atmosphere. You know those crazy over-energetic (Meaning hyperactive) marketing geeks. That organisation was excited about everything, it was also optimistic. Often also too optimistic, but anyway. We had a mission to create something new and unique, we were pioneers. And our position in product management, in the place where the product was actually defined, was the best place for innovation. It was inspiring.
R&D guys were sometimes quite suspicious towards us. It was sometimes a challenge to lead the boat to correct direction but fortunately there was a crucial ingredient in the recipe: enthusiasm for novelty. That gave good basement for team work and finally implements fruits of that inspiration. The UX was also great, because we were bringing new UX related technology to the markets. Every tech geek in the organisation was inspired by this fact. It was easy to think about good UX.
Later I was working in the organisation which had different goal: To copy the innovations done as much as possible. The goal was to make the machine work so smooth that it was able to productise the innovations as efficient as possible. The machine of software production required lot of food. The role of the UX discipline was to produce design assets as fast as possible. Naturally there was a need for innovation also, to maintain the competitiveness. The software guy gave orders to UX designer: I need this kind of component, please define it.
Well. That organisation was also build in a way that UX had certain role in product marketing. The practical UX work was still done under R&D. The atmosphere was much more pragmatic. And short sighted. Agile process was thinking about what design assets there are needed this week. Well, that icon and this wireframe. Make a requirement out of them. Now when I think it, the inspiration was missing. It was more factory type of production. No similar inspiration than when the marketing propel-heads were in the leading position. Not even the megalomaniac UX process development work helped the situation. If the inspiration is missing, no quality process or organisation can help it.
It is always easy to do something novel. It is always easier to go and sit under the apple tree, without limitations of realism. It is always inspiring to dream without limitations.
That is something marketing guys know well. Marketing has an skill to dream, make visions and also good tools to implement at least part of them. R&D is often stuck to depressing challenges of technologies and timetables. They have the responsibility to make every dream happen. Sometimes it is a crushing responsibility. In those situations the organisation should be forgotten. Innovation process sounds like a paradox to me; it should be called inspiration. There are needed the correct thinking. Optimist thinks that “we can make it”, and marketing is surely full of optimists.
Forget the organisation, remember the correct attitude. Think positive, get fascinated about everything new. Think like a marketing geek. And the most important: Cherish the inspiration.