The most rewarding skill that I have learned would be research. More specifically, qualitative design research. Learning about people and hearing their stories always fascinates me. You never get the same thing twice when you’re out in the field. Everyone is unique.
I have been involved in generative research studies, investigative research studies, design research, and prototype tests. The activities range from one-on-one interviews, focus groups, co-design sessions, journey mapping, take home studies, and various other methodologies.
Each project has rendered a different set of outcomes. While there is always an end goal, I don’t like to restrict myself on the final framework of what the end of a research project is going to look like. I always want the data to tell me how it wants to be presented, allow the story to be uncovered as insights are gathered. The most exciting part is being able to tell these stories and have those stories influence strategy.
Drawing something out quickly on paper or a whiteboard is always an intimidating idea. You are taking your ideas and bringing them out officially into the world where they can be criticized. However, drawing, doodling, writing, and mapping are some of the best alignment tools. They allow for everyone to see what a team is thinking, or what they have learned. Doing real-time meeting illustrations has worked wonders in being able to focus conversations and reach goals. Journey maps and service blueprints expose how a user is moving through an experience and how a client can influence that experience.
I have worked on journey maps, service blueprints, meeting illustrations, and storyboards in order to tell stories to clients. Some are simple, some are complex, others are rough, and others are highly refined. Every single one has been useful in making ideas and goals more clear so more desireable solutions can be made.
Workshop sessions are both a science and an art form. They require a lot of pre-planning, while at the same time require you to be extremely flexible. You get many ideas and opinions about what the goals are in the room. The main goal in any workshop setting is to reach concensus on the things that are most important, while also informing each other about knowledge that other team members might have.
The workshops I have worked on range from small, work session discussions with a couple of simple activities to reach that collective understanding, to large, complex ideation workshops with 20 to 30 people rotating through different ideation exercises. Workshops are intricately designed to create a safe environment to talk about concerns and ideas. It is imperative to me for workshops to be fun while also having clear goals in mind. You always want your participants to leave feeling like they accomplished something.