New horizons

TL;DR – I’m looking for a principal design role involving vision / strategy / workshop facilitation / management. Possibly at an agency, an incubator, or an innovation department. I’m currently working as a senior product designer for Unmind, and I’m not in any rush.

Why am I looking for a new role?

Over three years ago, I switched from being a freelance design consultant to working full time in product companies. This has been a learning journey – I now have a clear idea of the kind of work I want to do, and the kind of work that is not a good match. Firstly – I found that working at a ‘senior’ level in product companies felt like a step down in impact and excitement from the work I did as a freelance consultant. 

I’ve also learnt, and this has been the big lesson – that to get what you want in life you have to first know, define, and ask for it.

This post is an effort to find the work that I am most engaged by – as I know that I am highly motivated when engaged by the work, but I struggle when I’m not.

Background

In my time working as a freelance consultant I felt really energised by:

1. The variety of work 

2. The strategic impact my work could have. 

I really enjoy helping founders, designers, product people, and engineers think about the “why” behind their work, facilitating their creativity in framing problems, bringing out their ideas for solutions, helping them develop brands and concepts, understand who they’re serving – and then helping them prototype and test these concepts. This is the kind of work that energises me, the kind of work I want to do more of. 

Looking back on companies I’ve worked with, it’s so good to see so many of them doing well. Startups like Learnerbly, BBoxx, and Endlesss that I worked with are going from strength to strength. I’m happy to know I made a small contribution by helping their founders articulate their vision – and the steps they needed to make it a reality. It’s also great to see products I worked on for bigger companies like Google’s Grow My Store and EE’s point of sale interface continue to provide great experiences and bring in new business.

This is the kind of work that I want to do more of as I know it fully engages me. I know that when I’m fully engaged, I can really bring my talents to a task and have the kind of impact I enjoy.

Working practice that energises me

  • Innovative
  • Creative
  • Driven by vision 

Things I like doing

  • Facilitating
  • Bringing out the ideas of others
  • Asking the difficult questions 
  • Helping others articulate their visions
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Understanding users and target audiences
  • Prototyping and testing ideas
  • Design sprints
  • Branding
  • Pitching

Things I’m looking for 

  • Clear and actionable feedback
  • Honest and clear communication
  • New places, faces, clients, and challenges
  • More time on my feet in action – less time behind a screen
  • Coaching, mentoring, and helping others grow in their skills and careers
  • The opportunity to be a mentee

Things I struggle with

  • Agile ceremonies: Ticket effort estimation, burndown charts.
  • Design system work, operations, technical details. While I have a technical mind and can code and architect systems, I’m not interested in doing more of this work
  • The atomisation and micromanagement of work

You can see from this list that I’m generally more interested in going deep into ‘big ideas’ than in the surface level. I like to go deep in conversation and thinking.

Hopes and dreams for the new role

From what I know of myself and the design world, and as I said above, I feel like an agency, startup incubator or innovation department might be a good match at this point – but I don’t want to limit myself to these possibilities. Ideally my new role will have:

  1. A principal / staff / lead / management / strategic position – with strong design leadership that I can learn from. 
  2. Opportunities to speak for the importance of design – to teach, facilitate, pitch, and sell the value of great design to clients and colleagues.
  3. A London office – or at least regular contact with clients and team members here in London.
  4. Ethical – I’m not interested in working for gambling products, crypto, or other predatory business models. I’d love to work for a company focusing on doing ethical work and making the world a better place.
  5. A four day working week – This has made a huge contribution to my quality of life in recent years and it would be hard to let go of.

My current work

I’m currently working as a senior product designer at Unmind – and it’s honestly going to be a hard role to leave! A fantastic team, and a great mission. 

The only problem is that in my current role I get to do very little of the strategy and vision work I used to enjoy so much as a consultant.  As there’s no scope within the small team at Unmind for me to move up or to move laterally, I’m now looking to see what the possibilities might be out there.  I’ve talked to my manager and team about this, and they’ve been fantastic.  Without their support it would have been impossible to publish this post.  So Unmind has been a great company to work for, and I’ll always be grateful to them for everything they’ve done for me, but it could be the moment for me to move on.

In conclusion

Thanks for taking the time to read this post! I hope it gives you an idea if I might be a good fit for your company. If so, I’d love to hear from you! billt@nullbtribble.com