ONE: Be curious 24×7
If you are a parent, this is fairly easy. Just observe your child. If you have a child who is less than 3 years, you will be surprised how curious they are.
When joining a new place of work, have this kind of child-like curiosity in abundance.
What is a typical day for a team and its members…
How they learn..
How they stay motivated when the chips are down…
Why are the team members still there…
How they have fun…
Why in the past team members have left?
What are the challenges they are facing (current team) or faced (those who left) at work?
What is the power play at the organisation?
Who calls the shots?
Who are the influences, the fixers?
Whose voice matters in the team, in the project, in the department, in the organisation?
Why does the product exist?
Who are the users?
Why are users not switching away?
Why are users switching away?
Why are prospective customers staying away?
Curiosity will take you places…literally.
TWO: Have a Founder/Promoter/Owner/Entrepreneur Mindset
Get out of the employee mindset, what it means is —
Stop waiting for anyone to give you direction or work. Find any, no matter how small or big problem to solve.
Own the product. Understand it fully. See where it works, where it fails, where it does magic.
Take initiatives. Share learnings, share a book you came across and helped you. Find out who uses the products, go and meet them. If you see something in the process or way things are done can be improved, feel free to suggest.
See it as a bank deposit, your primary work is to deposit and not expect to take out anything initially. Cliche statement — Don’t ask what the organisation/team can do for you, ask what you can do for them.
Imagine your new organisation belongs to your Parents and it has been passed on to you as an inheritance. This is all you have. You are the sole inheritor. No siblings no relatives will have any share of this business.
You cannot sell the business. You have, say X years to make it better or you will loose all of it.
Now what will you do to ensure that this business thrives?
Unbridled Optimism. By and larger this mindset is all about being optimistic as otherwise why would they(Founders/Promoters) start something just to fail. And things will not go as planned and there will be severe testing times at all level. In these times optimism will go a long way to help us.
THREE: See your career as a product and have a roadmap
What dreams or aspirations you have from your new job?
What do you want to become?
What do you want to do?
What do you want to learn?
What is your purpose?
It’s ironical that we spent so much time in meetings — scrum, agile, retrospective, planning, etc just to ensure the product development progresses. And all this will not matter as you can be replaced in an instant.
Instead, why not do the same with your career which will remain with you forever!
Chart a roadmap for a year or more and then work backwards to have goals for 6 months, quarter, month, fortnight, week and for the day.
The roadmap can have where do you want to end up, what things you want to do, what things you want to achieve, what things you want to learn and so on.
And then figure out how do you plan to accomplish. What resources would you need? Whose help would you need?
The above activity will take a lot of self-introspection but it will be worth it in the long run.
I think it was Jared Spool who does this interesting ritual of making every new hire write a “Thank You” to their Manager/Boss 1 year in the future. This note contains what all the new hire is thankful for after 1 year. It’s basically a roadmap of what the new hire wishes to achieve and how can others help him/her.
BONUS: Read this book!
One of the biggest challenges I faced and continue to face is how to communicate my design and what all decisions went around it. We feel because we know the language of design, everyone knows too! Huge assumption and validated negatively many times!
So I request new designers especially to ingest all that the above book has to offer. Your journey will be that much smoother and happier!