Most people love parties, I do. Actually I love the food and the music. More than that, we love being invited especially by those we know. Most of the time, all you have to do is show up and you will leave well fed, perhaps drunk, but mostly happy. It is comfortable.
As a User Experience Designer in the working world, the party could take the form of a service or product your company is providing, it could be a project meeting, it could be a planning meeting. When parties are thrown there are some key roles people need to take on to make the party a success.
It doesn’t matter how beautifully planned a party is, if people do not come it is a failure. Being invited to these parties, your role is clear cut, your stake low, it’s easy to go. Not much is required from you. You have to accept what is available, and take what is given to you. You are crucial in the wider scheme of things, but easily replaceable. Your work as an invitee-UXer is limited to what ‘Business’ dictates, it usually takes an extraordinary person to influence the party at this level.
Party Planner and Host
Now, every party has a planner(s) who decides what the party should be, what people would eat, the theme if any, so on and so forth. The host makes sure everyone is comfortable, everyone has enough to eat and that they are having a good time through out the event and beyond. They can make or break these events, it is not a comfortable position but it is a very influential and powerful role.
The party planners and hosts I’ve worked with in recent past have been Business Owners, Products Owners, Marketing Execs e.t.c They usually have a clear idea of what they want and have low tolerance for a deviation from their plans. Some have excelled in this role, by taking everyone along the way, keeping an eye on things from start to finish and beyond, truly leading in the best sense of the word.
I love firemen and the work they do. Saving people from themselves, from others and from death. With all the good they do, who thinks of them when planning a party? No, you don’t, until something starts to go wrong. Cat on the tallest tree? Trigger-happy cooking? Fire-starting demented neighbours? (who you did not invite), stuff hitting the fan? It gets messy.
Many times working in UX I’ve had to do a lot of fire-fighting, which is essentially trying to revive a product that UX was not invited to take part in at any level of the process but has gone LIVE but with so much UX-fail that everyone is wringing their hands and feet.
Don’t leave UX to the fireman role, sometimes it is too late.
The crucial thing
While every role above is important, UX needs to acquire skills which move us into position of influence within companies. We need UX leaders willingly to suffer the lion bites. UX is bigger than the UX designers or Architects, everyone involved in a product or service needs to own it.
However it is far easier to share or direct a vision when one is at the top, when one has the ability and capability to plan, strategise and host the party.