Delayed gratification

This weekend I looked at myself with a sense pride for the first time in a long time. I felt like someone coming back from the frontline after one long year in the cold tranches. It was hard but I came back alive and with new allies.

This is a reflexion on what happened.

Last month, we created a feature following a thrilling design discovery process. We were on a journey and we all came back with a feeling of pride.

For that particular feature, we bridged the gap between two development teams; one based in Australia and one based in India. We took the time to do design engineering, collect user feedback through usability testing, create design artefacts such as; user flows, sketches and prototypes. We had healthy debates about the design and we really took the time to flesh out all the details. The whole process felt like one of these success stories from Spotify or Atlassian but this time it was us, we were the heroes of our own story.

To me, the feature we designed last month is one of the biggest achievement in my career because a year ago, we were like astronauts on a mission to Mars, except that we never met each other before leaving Earth.

It has been one year since I asked my very first questions to the team; “What is the vision of your product?”, “How can I involved the engineers from India in the design process?”, “Can I have a look at your backlog and initiate design discussions around the future working items?”. My questions were intriguing and felt nearly absurd coming from someone where the role “was not clearly defined”.

I was hungry, hungry to produce great work but I had to build a discovery process that everyone understands first. It was hard, very hard.

Before having our first real success story I had to educate the team about UX design, I had to change my own mentality, shave my head and reboot my entire brain in order to see new perspectives. I was not only transforming the dynamic of a team, I had to transform myself in order to implement a design culture that made sense to everyone.

Rejection, acceptance, fear, curiosity, doubts, confidence, delusion, and joy. The word “work” was taking a totally new meaning for me. It was not about going to a place from 9 to 5, it was about shifting a collective thinking and building what seemed impossible at the time.

It has been one year and I now understand the true meaning of delayed gratification.