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Inculcate a Design Mindset to Kickstart Career

There are many character traits and mindsets that help people evolve into great designers. However there is one thing that is guaranteed to ruin even the best laid out plans and efforts to grow in your UX path: Ego. Yes, when one is rigid the options before her or him are closed and that snuffs out creativity. 

When Stu Smith, Product Designer, Atlassian urges young designers to let go of their ego, he also cites a book written by American media strategist, Ryan Holiday. Here is a quote: 

“Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It’s a magnet for enemies and errors.”

For those without experience and who are just starting out, the book may seem like one of hundreds of self-help books. We still recommend that you go through it.  For it will help the designer in you in many little ways. You will definitely not get these pearls of wisdom in any UX UI design course or even if you run a Google search on: how to start learning UX design in India 

Holiday identifies ego as the thirst for recognition, the default choices we make that soothes our sense of past achievements and makes us self-absorbent. 

More importantly, the subject of the book, “Ego is the Enemy” ties in rather well with the design mindset that Smith also asks beginners to embrace. 

Design mindset is catching up fast as a sustainable model to achieve innovation through constructive empathy. D-Schools commonly teach the following:

Focus on Human Values: A people-first attitude will help you find the needs of society through conversation, observation and first-hand experiences.

Radical Collaboration: Bringing together diverse and different talent to the table, all highly experienced and representative of real and valid stakeholders helps promote excellence.

Bias towards Action: Trying things out and facing early failure to gain experience and continuing to iterate in the right environment is a proactive mindset.

Experimenting and Prototyping: An attitude of carrying out trials, with low fidelity but lifesize representations of solutions, encourages real feedback from actual users.

Show, Don’t Tell: Designers should try to think visually and present analytical findings, and factual reports through a story-telling technique. 

Crafting Clarity with Simplicity: Coherent vision is critical to synthesizing an intelligent and interpretative solution out of messy problems.

In addition to this design mindset checklist, you should also realize that intuitive thinking will help to collaborate and have an open-mind. Ambition and confidence should not come in the way of your learning, just as shyness should not hold you back.

Here are some other co-attributes of the design mindset, set forth by Tim Brown of Ideo:

  • Have a mindfulness of the process, tools and techniques
  • Be comfortable with ambiguity
  • Be curious and customer-centric
  • Be holistic and embrace various perspectives
  • Notice what others do not see
  • Be optimistic and experimental

Let us return to Stu Smith here and understand why he underlines the need to be “like clay….pliable, have people shape you into the designer you want to be.”

Juxtapose this with what his favourite author, Holiday says in Ego is the Enemy: “We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative — one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.”

Now go forth and experiment, design, innovate…

Design Mindset Means No Ego
Stu, Product Designer, Atlassian