Working Backwards to Move Forwards

The last month has consisted of reflection upon my recently completed MSc in design ethnography thesis (see previous post). Yesterday I realized we did not conduct any actual ethnography during our masters thesis. This revelation was induced due to a little help from a great informal critique by Chiara Garattini, whose staunch anthropological academic experience and pragmatic advice was a delight.

The MSc in design ethnography, though named as well as it could be, is still not accurately titled, or to say it more precisely it has metamorphosed into a creature of some much larger scope than initially intended.  We embarked on the course last year as a batch of intrepid individuals with diverse backgrounds. We left it as design researchers set upon strategically plodding forward to change the world and influence decision makers with our work. We didn’t do pure design or ethnography but we did turn ourselves into hybrids ready to span the chasm between the rock and the hard place

What have I learned? What is my takeaway?

I learned what a takeaway is and how in planning any product, service, or activity, we must begin with the takeaway. Start with the endgame and work backward, in order to move forwards.

Simple. Clean. Fun. This is my motto for project management and human relations. The best way to manage a complicated, multi-part, multi-disciplinary project is to cut out the fat, keep things clear, don’t waste resources, and make it fun. Having your whole team working in parallel and facing the same direction is keep to achieve effective outcomes.

Communicate strategically and use the vocabulary your audience is most comfortable using.

Confidence is crucial and empathy and understanding necessary to balance it.

Those are my big picture lessons learned during the Masters. My new approach to problem solving and life philosophy has grown out of the unique and challenging experiences of the last year.