Dear Team Member, Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

May 22nd, 2017 - Written by Andree Huk

You can replace team member with "designer", "developer" or even "marketer" or "sales manager" if you so prefer but the former ones will fit better.

Your fellow designer or developer will whole-heartedly appreciate your effort. But first, get out of your comfort zone. Sorry for repeating myself.

What comfort zone am I talking about? Well, the one that we spend time in on a normal day. For most designers or developers that is the comfort of ones typical design tool, terminal, Xcode or Android Studio. It is not a bad thing per se of course. Quite the contrary. But it has an effect or, so to say, limits one effectiveness.

The purpose?

You will be able to see the task at hand and the broader picture through different eyes. You will be able to understand and connect with people on your team, who are not designers or developers, on profoundly different levels. This may sound to you like a nice, simple story, I understand. Here is the kicker, you don't know what you don't know, yet.

  • Speed up the understanding of issues at hand
  • Understand the broader picture through different eyes
  • Connect with people on your team on different levels (who are might not be designers or developers)
  • Come up with new ideas that challenge the current understanding or status-quo
  • Reduce time and effort needed to ship features
  • Close a sale sooner as expected because you understand the fears of the potential new client
  • Write better business proposals...

new horizon, new insights, new opportunities

Impossible to imagine

I remember myself writing an application for a study US program sometime back in 1997. Furthermore, I do still remember that I wrote something along the lines of "I want to broaden my personal horizon". Of course, I do remember myself recognising the actual experience when I then did live abroad for what it was. It was incredible to realise how the actual experience turned out to be so profoundly deeper, broader and more meaningful than I had thought.

Have you had a similar experience living abroad? What was the before and after experience like?

By not being physically immersed I was not able reap the full extend of its benefits. It does not even get close. And practically, one cannot imagine the breadth and profoundness of such an experience beforehand.

Take design and software engineering

Imagine a situation where you are part of the design team that focuses on designing a web-based HR application. UX plans and execute sprints ahead of engineering. Designers do not know much about engineering and the engineers neither much about design. In fact, the sprints in design do not always end up with to have the right level of detail that is required for engineering as the designers do expect the developers to also be creative and come up with solutions. However, the engineers expect clear cut specs for them to be able to stick to deadlines.

It is not to hard to imagine that an understanding for the other persons daily challenges and tasks might ease the workflow and process across the team. As with our example of "living abroad", "things" probably will run better.

The question though is what does better here really mean? Does it imply improvements such as that the team could reduce time by streamlining implementation hand-offs or whether an engineer could hand over marketing related change requests to a designer. Well, these possibilities remain of theoretical nature up until the moment that a designer or developer gets out of her comfort zone.

Furthermore, the next immediate question should be: what will be all those potential improvements that you currently cannot imagine? Those improvements that are hidden past the imaginable "universe".

The curse of knowledge

Interestingly, after I spent considerable time abroad, it had gotten very hard to imagine what it was like not having been abroad in the first place. Alas, the curse of knowledge was kicking in. In fact, the curse of knowledge does also make it incredible hard to put yourself in the shoes of another human being. A human being who does not (yet) have the same experience or learning opportunities that you had exposure to.

Getting out of your comfort zone in the first place is totally worth the impairment of the curse of knowledge. Handling the subsequent impairment is then another challenge worth solving.

Want to come up with a new digital product, expand your existing business, stay competitive? What's your next step?

Get in touch with Andree Huk
at +49 30 5557 7174 or [email protected].

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