After three years, I’ve decided to leave Avaloq. The most important lesson I learnt from this experience is, if you want to build trust among your co-workers and managers, you should start by demystifying the design process itself.
I know it sounds odd, something like the geek version of the Oedipus complex. However, I strongly believe this is the best starting point to help non-designer people not to look at the design process as if it was a Being 747 blackbox.
At Avaloq, I had the chance to work in a context that was mature enough to start to see things from a different angle. Thanks to an open and direct relationship with C-level people and colleagues, I could gear most of my effort towards three main points:
- Reinforce trust towards the Design Thinking (DT)
- Demystify the Design Thinking oriented Design Process
How to destroy the “please, could you make it nicer” stereotype? I haven’t any rabbit in my hat for this. It’s a matter of fact, every organisation has its own dynamics in terms of structure sensitiveness towards the design topics. During my time at Avaloq, and in other companies too, I’ve always tried to communicate on the basis of a neutral approach. I’ve always striven to avoid the design jargon, I’ve clearly shared the metrics we can adopt to evaluate the design options, I’ve evangelised the human performance as opposed to system performance. But more importantly, I’ve always sponsored the “Design Doing” rather than the purely “Design Thinking” approach. Together with my team, we delivered a bunch of LOW-FI and HI-FI prototypes to show the complexity of user interactions. We’ve shared our tools with our colleagues to review and to evaluate the design options. We’ve striven to avoid presenting design deliverables embedded in PowerPoint decks stuffed with Steve Jobs quotes. All the design options were always presented in their reference context. For instance, we’ve alway showed the prototypes embedded within the browser window, to show the limitations and the suitability of the different options
- Pushing the “user prospective” ever since the first stages of the project
Like every complex and leading organisation, Avaloq knows how to run its own business. Very often I heard my peers saying“we do know what the users need”. Very often, I invited them to drill down this sentence to collect a list of measurable objectives and targets. A perfect environment to push forward this conversation materialised itself when I jumped into a brand-new project, which I designed with the client. It was the right moment in time to put on the table questions such as:
How does the user run this task at the moment?
Will she/he be able to receive support and training to learn how to use the APP?
On average, how many times do we expect she/he will use the APP?
Which type of tools will she/he use, together with the APP, to accomplish the task?
I’ve noticed that this type of questions trigger a variety of reactions. First of all, they drive the conversation towards the first two points of this post (Increasing the trust towards the Design Thinking and Demystify the Design-driven Process), and they boost the chemistry between the product people and the soon-to-be user. I’ve relied on this momentum to boost the persona topic to avoid to forget it or keep it separated from the DP. I bored my colleagues to death when constantly reminding them that we design for a human being and we are aware of her/his limits, needs and – more importantly – personality. In short, I’ve tried to always connect the product with the real “fictional” character.
This is, in a nutshell, my logbook as a designer at Avaloq. Beyond the technical and professional side are the people I met and the 3 years we spent together. A bunch of geeks, very skilled in what they do. I will always cherish my time at Avaloq, a company that deserves to be a leader, so much so because its people do their very best to build what is “essential for banking”!
Live long and prosper!
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