Ideas

Stagility

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For me, this made-up word is

the synthesis of Stability + Agility

 

I understand that HR people are often eager to reduce the stack of resumes in their inbox – and that the shallow approach of counting engagements or “recency” is a convenient excuse for rejecting applicants outright.   Many hiring managers assume that they can control the upset of change if they hire only people who’ve worked in one place for a long period of time.  It’s a temptingly obvious solution – But is it the only one?

There is nothing so stable as change.  – Bob Dylan

The new media are an ongoing challenge:  change is the constant. Increasingly across the board, professionals are viewed as consultants. I believe that this is especially true of the “user experience” arena which, by definition, transcends traditional boundaries. That’s why I got into it in the first place, of course:  UX is the cutting edge of change.  And – as with all blades – “It cuts both ways.” For most organizations, change is a struggle.

Stability is the integrity of commitment.

Agility is the wisdom to adapt.

Stagility is a technique for dealing with Change.

Part-Time Engagements / Full-Time Commitment

That’s how I describe my career.  I’ve been doing both interactive design and usability advocacy for several decades.  The fulltime UX jobs didn’t exist – heck, the terminology and  titles didn’t even  exist – for most of my early career. As one of the first people working in this arena, I was in the marketplace defining the need for an interaction design “usability practice” from the earliest days.

 

Visionary

My career began at the lucky confluence of right place, right time, right mind. I was there when it became clear that usability would be the competitive edge for the emerging interactive economy.   There’s something to be said for “fortuitous synergy”.  Early on the curve (the early ’80’s) I was an active advocate for

Visualization is one of the most personally satisfying aspects of the profession.  A “Facebook for the enterprise” project at a major tech think tank still informs my desire to see LinkedIn reach its collegial, collaborative potential:

 Visionary builds what dreamers imagined.  ― Toba Beta

 

Adaptable

If you’re going to hang around for long in the quickly-changing, quirky “new media” arena, then this quality is absolutely essential.  “The Next Big Thing” comes and goes, but each embodies some constant truth.  I often describe myself as “a repository of dead languages“.  That’s not as sad as it sounds:  The Latin that I studied in high school is still invaluable when deciphering big words.

For example:

I was amused to see storyboarding emerge as a valuable skill for UX.  In the early days of digital interactive, it just didn’t resonate.

But now it’s a given – one we’ve inherited from the linear film & video metaphor.

Here are some Factoids from an earlier time.  I won’t try to deconstruct them in detail, but I believe they speak to adaptability.

Technologies come and go.  Fundamental needs remain.

 

Service-Oriented

UX brought a unique (and unsettling) perspective to traditional businesses:  “user centricity”.  Any enterprise wishing to be involved in interactive media had to develop this whole new service-oriented area as a part of their business.

Here’s my business card (circa 1983).

“User experience” was not a job description … it’s just what I did.  I did it with the belief that it was the inescapable reality of the future.

 

Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community. – Simon Mainwaring

 

Problem-Solver

Coming up with viable solutions lies at the very heart of usability.  In many ways, it is my motivation to work in UX.

I entrepreneurized the vision by creating practical solutions for real needs.

 

Many of my engagements have been to ‘build the solution”, not merely ‘gild the lily’.

Creativity is all about problem-solving.  – Philip Seymour Hoffman

 

Pioneer

I was tapped for one of the first fulltime “Information Architect” staff positions that I’d ever heard of in the industry in 1994.   We were in fact the”agile” design solution for the enterprise before it became an industry thing.  I went on-staff several more times over the next few years – at bluechip Fortune 500 financial institutions.

Finally, the timing was finally about right – except for one thing; The bursting of “the internet bubble” in 2000.  Nonetheless, I survived during the industry’s recovery, paying the rent and continuing to stump for User Experience, but wary of the commitment of the enterprise.

It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world. – Elizabeth Blackwell

 

Advocate

“Prosletyzing the Vision Thing” is an everyday exercise when you’re a contractor/consultant.

It is a strange trade that of advocacy. Your intellect, your highest heavenly gift is hung up in the shop window like a loaded pistol for sale. – Thomas Carlyle

The Takeaway

Visionary, adaptable, service oriented, problem solver, pioneer, advocate

These are all attributes that are essential to dealing with change.  I’m not implying that a 10-year staffer can’t have these qualities.  I am saying that someone who’s been a professional independent consultant and contractor is very likely to have these qualities.

So it’s a pity if you overlook us. It’s also counter-productive – if one of your primary challenges is dealing with change.

Don’t you want those qualities in someone who’s at the cutting edge of change in your organization?  It’s a thought …

 

This article is really just an exercise in self-promotion

Okay, so this Post is “all about me”.  I love books, hypotheticals, and academic discourse.  But my most satisfying knowledge is based on my own experience.  I can’t help but reference it when I talk about what moves me.

I’ve been in the User Experience craft for 30 years because it is my passion.  UX is all about user-centricity, so I guess self-reflection comes with the territory.  My longstanding motivation is to Make the vision real.  

For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent. – Tony Robbins

 

© The Communication Studio LLC

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