How do you face a deadline head-on while still maintaining a beginner's mindset and remaining open to feedback? How do you resist breaking your design-thinking tools under the pressure of the homestretch?
The fellows are in the process of launching their projects. They are also creating a presentation about their process and projects to share Monday with an audience of family and friends at the d.school. Many of the people in the audience will want to know: "What have you been doing this year?"
Here are my insights as I am planning for this event alongside a stellar group:
Stop whining and get a team.
Collaboration is not my default working mode. Writing is generally a solo activity, and I'm comfortable in that posture with just about everything I do. In an economy that prizes individuals for their ability to play multiple roles (thus saving the company money in additional manpower), I'm used to being valued for my ability to do everything by myself. Fears and doubts crawl out of the shadows when I begin to collaborate. Then, as hard as it is to admit it, I start to whine (if not to myself, then to others). I learned, working on this project, that I really need to stop whining and get a team. When I do, not only does the project go more smoothly, it's more fun and the end result is better by orders of magnitude.
Don't sacrifice great ideas to the clock.
I really dislike ambiguity, especially on deadline. If a detail can be nailed to the wall, I'm there with a hammer. Throughout the process of planning for this event, I've wanted to pin down seemingly important details as quickly as possible (who speaks first, whose presentation is where, etc.). But the clock isn't going to give you any special favors for finishing before deadline. In fact, it may give you the opposite.
Great outcomes seldom come from the first idea that works. Embrace experimentation — having an answer doesn't mean it's the best one.
Pivot from stress to serenity.
Take a moment. Breathe. Focus on what's stressing you out. Then ask yourself, "Why?"
Now take that answer and ask "why" again. Keep going, and eventually you'll build a ladder of whys that will provide a deeper insight. Make it fun, make it peaceful, make it something other than stressful. Knowing the root cause of your anxiety can help eliminate its chokehold.
How do you design for the homestretch? Let us know in the comments, or ping me on Twitter at @emikolawole.