Every Wednesday afternoon, the design team I’m currently working with, opens the door of their already crowded room for a “Show & Tell”. All project owners that will be affected by our work are invited to see what we are up to, and encouraged to give feedback.
This week was the first time I attended. Usually I spend Wednesday afternoons with my kids, but since their grandma was in town, I could be part of it and showed the current state of affairs.
Of course it obviously makes sense to involve the people who are crucial to getting our designs properly implemented and applied from the get go. But I guess it’s rarely done in such an open way, especially in large and long-standing companies like this one.
And while getting the buy-in of those people, and the valuable information and expertise they can provide, will pay dividends in the end, this openness is not without risks. In such big organisations you always have people with agendas that may not be compatible with your ideas.
To make it work, you have to be careful. Not during the Show & Tell, though. If designers would have to think about politics while presenting their work, it wouldn’t be the same.
To open up, you have to create a safe space first. The guests need to be vetted, their expectations managed, a friendly, constructive atmosphere needs to be established and maintained.
It’s a lot of work which is invisible and rarely appreciated. But it makes all the difference.