How I Learn

Here’s a list of methods I’ve been using in the past couple of years to learn and grow. And a second list of new methods I would like to spend more time trying.

How I’ve been learning

  • Consulting: Working at Pivotal means that I am rotation through several projects each year. Each project has a unique set of teams, users, stakeholders, domains, constraints, timelines, goals. New challenges, mean new ways of solving them. While I’m not an expert in any business domain, I’ve helped client teams see the value of establishing and adopting new design practices.

  • Pairing: All the developers pair program at Pivotal, and designers pair design quite often. Pairing with client and Pivotal designers means I get to see different approaches to solving problems. It also allows me to learn what didn’t know I didn’t know.

  • Managing other designers: Becoming a manager recently means I am gaining additional perspective by helping others reflect on their own growth. Seeing the contrast in my reports’ goals, challenges, and working styles, I get to reflect on my own approach. Learning from what works well across reports helps me share it and apply it back to everyone.

  • Friendtorships: The conversations I have with my manager, my project team, and other designers, are invariably different. Friendtorships are peer-mentorships that create an additional space where I am able to reflect on my projects, design practice, and goals in a way that doesn’t happen in other contexts. It’s more reflective, less output driven, and the exploration reveals new paths in a way that is not pre-defined.

  • Side Projects: Creating safe spaces to practice and explore new skills are crucial for personal growth. It’s the equivalent of an R&D approach for personal growth. A place to try new ideas and fail safely and productively. It’s a sandbox of deliberate play and practice, good frustration, and tiny-but-personal victories.

  • Defining Skill Benchmarks Working with a larger design team has allowed me to see the way we define expectations for successful designers. We have a set of core values that include a set of possible behaviors/actions. Articulating the behaviors and actions allows me to see if I am doing what we say we value. To see what values and priciples a team cares about, see how they manifest themselves in the process and working relationships.

New Learning Experiences to Try

Methods I’d like to continue practicing and new ones to explore:

  • Continue managing
  • Continue old and start new friendtorships with others
  • Start mentoring designers outside of work
  • Find new formats to gather feedback and reflect on my work and myself
  • Start learning about education methods and learning styles
  • Start pairing with more designers