Design Digest: Creative Leader, Productivity, and the Headset of Truth

    Creative Leader

    At some point, the best employees become managers. There are several reasons for this: loss of interest, the need to transfer experience or dissatisfaction with current management. The work of the leader is different from the work of the employee, so the new managers make typical mistakes. The author of Taming the Tigers writes how to avoid them

    The main mistake of the new leaders is to do the work for subordinates, instead of managing them. This does not allow employees to take the initiative in solving new problems, without which growth is impossible. Of course, the leader has more professional skills, so he will cope better with work - this is good in the short term, but if you look in the long term, this strategy is wrong. If people do not grow, solving complex tasks, work ceases to inspire them, they lose motivation and think about finding a new job.

    But, even if you do not do the work for your employees, problems may arise in the team. This happens if you simply give tasks without explaining why they need to be done.

    Here is what the author writes:
    “If employees achieve the set results over and over again, but they do not have professional growth, then you teach them how to work, but don’t say why this or that technique is effective. Sooner or later people get bored and they leave. ”
    The way out of this situation is as follows: a balance of restrictions and freedom. You can maintain this balance by forming the principles of work and giving the team complete freedom within these principles.

    Henry Todd offers four questions that help shape your principles:

    • What kind of employee behavior do you welcome regardless of its consequences?
    • How should employees behave while working on a project?
    • How do you prioritize?
    • How do you distinguish good from bad?

    Some creative people believe that they need complete freedom and any restrictions negatively affect the result, but without limitations it is impossible to focus their skills in one direction and create something worthwhile.

    You are not your idea

    A common problem in many discussions is the struggle of ego and authority, and not a reasoned defense of ideas. Everything comes from company culture. If people care about the common good, it’s important for them to choose the best idea. If people care only about themselves, they need to defend their own.

    To avoid the latter, I try to adhere to the following rule.

    Even being confident in my innocence, I admit that the colleague’s idea is true and try to find confirmation of this. Because the best way to confirm your idea is to try to find a rebuttal to it.

    Headset of Truth

    The book “ Now You See It ” talks about an interesting experiment, the purpose of which was to find out how fonts affect the perception of information.

    The reader was asked to read two texts: about the probability of an asteroid colliding with the Earth and the safety of the modern world. The reader was then asked to agree or disagree with the truth of the allegations and indicate the level of confidence. By the result, it was possible to determine how many readers are optimistic and how many pessimists.

    But it was a trick. In fact, it was not the text and type of reader that was tested, but the effect of fonts on the perception of information.

    The participants in the experiment read an excerpt from one of six headsets: Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet. Not surprisingly, the text written by Comic Sans was the least trusted by people. What about the most trusted headset? Yes, there is one. The result of the experiment showed that it is Baskerville.

    After reading this essay, I remembered how the perception of information changes from the quality of the layout of the article. It turned out that this is not a professional defect of the designer, but a feature of each person that can be used for different purposes.

    Time or result

    We are often advised to evaluate the work according to the results - they say it doesn’t matter how many people come to the office, the main thing is what he does. A sensible thought, but the author of Taming the Tigers looked at this question differently. Instead of evaluating employee productivity by results, Henry Todd recommends measuring it over time.

    Initially, this thought seemed controversial to me (after all, the main thing is the result!), But a little later I realized that it corresponds to my productivity system, which looks like this:

    1. Choose 2 key tasks for the day and 1-3 minor
    2. For each task, determine the required number of 25-minute sprints. Usually the main task is 4-6 sprints, the secondary ones 2-3
    3. During the sprint: the phone is removed, notifications are disabled

    I run tasks on Google Keep. It looks something like this:

    • Presentation for exhibition (6)
    • Telegram Channel Post (3)
    • Read book on trucking (2)
    • ...

    As you can see, there is nothing about the result in this technique. You only need to devote a certain amount of time to the assigned tasks. And that’s why it works.

    When you simply set a task, you may have two desires: to postpone it later or deal with it as soon as possible. None of this leads to quality work. And when the goal is to devote 25 minutes to the task, you can relax, realizing that at what speed you would not work, the length of your working day will not change. In other words, you give the brain an opportunity to focus on quality.

    How would it work if it were simple?

    I regularly ask myself this question. It helps me distract from the existing templates and come up with a solution that matches the current task.

    At the start of my career, like many others, I first ran to design resources in search of “inspiration” and tried to find a solution that could be applied to my task. Although in fact, I was not looking for inspiration, but only tried to strain my brain less.

    Copying someone else's solution is tempting, but do not forget that any pattern can work well in one case and absolutely not work in another. And what will you become, just imitating the work of others? After all, a good designer is always distinguished by the ability to think.

    It is useful to learn from someone else’s experience, looking at concepts and working services, but when confronted with a new task, you should not forget to turn on your head, asking yourself the question:
    How would it work if it were simple?

    Even a good idea is easy to kill.

    I remember how at the beginning of my career, presenting a design solution, it was easy to confuse me by asking a simple question, for example, why some element is just like that. Then I tried to reasonably answer the question because of which there was a meaningless dialogue that influenced the perception of the whole work.

    It was only with experience that I realized that issues not related to the main topic should be ignored. For example, saying: “These are just the details, so let's discuss the main things that affect the business, and in the end we will return to your question.”

    Oddly enough, this answer saves you from a useless conversation and presents in the form of a professional who cares about the client’s business, and not his ego.

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