I was a UX Project Lead for a group of 11 students, who wished to gain hands-on, real world experience on a project for a duration of 5 weeks.
Team Composition: Participants + Observers + Fellow Leads
- Walked the team through a rigorous, hands on introduction to Design Thinking, Design Research and Design Process.
- Presented and delivered content on UXR, UXD and IxD.
- Trained the team on different stages of the design process through supervised hands on activities.
- Made the team comfortable with the idea of “iteration” in design, through regular feedback and revision.
- Ensured well designed projects grounded in user research.
- Ensured that the team does not fall prey to confirmation bias.
- Got the team comfortable with the idea of remote collaboration.
- Got the team comfortable with the idea of giving and receiving regular feedback.
- Trained the team in articulating, presenting and advocating for their work.
- Mentored the team throughout the process to help them with their challenges, roadblocks and questions, and fostering interest and rigor in UXR and UXD.
- Mentored the co-leads (Technical and PM leads) and helping improve their negotiation, communication, leadership and conflict resolution abilities. The co-leads were promoted to Project Leads based on their improvement! (Super Glad, I’ll vouch for them!)
- Polished the team and the co-lead’s to the ideas of soft skills- confidence, belief in ideas, design advocacy, communication (especially in a remote setting), collaboration and conflict resolution. They have learnt how to respect each other’s ideas.
- Directed and shared a vision with the team and leads on the project.
- Ensured conflict resolution between people, ideas and thought processes between the team, and the leads.
- Guided the teams towards accomplishing projects which were wrapped up in time.
- Established ground rules for communication, and set up meeting times in an extremely diverse team, spread across 5 timezones.
- Developed the confidence to talk about UX, articulate thoughts and give constructive feedback.
- Developed the ability to diffuse tension and conflict.
- Was able to find the balance between approachability and authority.
- Improved my visual presentation skills.
- Improved in establishing empathy with people from different cultures, backgrounds and mindsets.
- Was able to provide value to the team, hone their skills and surpass their expectations.
- 2 Meetings every week with the Team
- 2-3 Meetings with the co-leads every week
- 1 Meeting with pathway leads almost every week
- 1 Meeting with UX Mentor almost every week
- Feedback session with Stakeholder(Debaleena, CEO) and UX Mentor (Benjamin)
- Was invited to provide feedbacks for UX Team 1 and 4 in the June Sessions.
Takeaways From This Experience
- Joy: Very, very happy to see the improvement graph of the the team and the co-leads. They have learnt, and applied their skills- technical and soft, and conceived a project grounded in user research, iteration and design principles.
- Leadership Experience: Conflict resolution in a cross cultural, cross timezone team was hard. I was met with assertive, strong willed co-leads, and meek, underconfident team members. Negotiating amicably and remotely to reach resolutions that is optimal given time, logistic and aspirational constraints was new for me.
- Decision Making: I have improved my ability to take decisions quickly, under very short notices and under very diverse circumstances. I have learnt to chart out decision trees mentally on the possibilities of actions. This was crucial to set up the scope and wind up the project and the content on time.
- Optimism about Remote Collaboration: It is very much possible!
- The Beauty of Mentorship: Based on this experience, I discovered that I loved helping out people in the design process. I have taken and scaled up this experience forward, by becoming a Teaching Assistant for the course “Design of Interactive Systems” at my College. Now, I’ll be helping out 17 teams work on their projects!