Speed is key. Triage helps sort order in chaos and the time limit creates a scenario where there is lots of pressure.
First is Prioritization – look at all the products and features that must be dealt with and rank them. Minor Problems are low impact and can often be taken care of them by themselves or time. Delayed Problems need to be addressed but don’t drop everything to work on them. These are often client delays and often times these can be used as filler when downtime exists. Immediate Problems are projects with heavy impact and need help urgently- these are the problems you drop everything for. Expectant Problems are critical flaws. No amount of time will fix these – consider a mercy killing.
Secondly, the UX triage doctor needs selflessness. Collaboration is key but never forget that the product is the star, not the designer. Don’t blow past asking the right questions on the way to making solutions. Designers can sometimes get so excited on a new project design, they forget key questions. Remember: Think, Make, Check, Repeat.
Thirdly, you’ll need the ability to perform Mercy Killings. It can be hard to fail often when you get invested in the solution. In a good institution saying ‘no’ to bad ideas is easy: Tell the truth with data, ask the right questions (is there a vision?), and tell stories to bring bad ideas out into the light of day (Devil’s Advocate). In less comfortable institutions your options to saying ‘no’ are more severe: Reflecting back conflict, Poison Pill the idea (also know as Grassroots Murder) by dropping small negative hints at the idea until groupthink takes over, or Quit.
Fourthly, you’ll need MacGuyver-like scrappiness. Always be making awesome with what’s on hand. Try to DIY everything you can – there are many options for free and cheap tech/ prototyping models out there. Use your scrappiness to determine the vision of the design solution.
Lastly, staying human matters. Don’t burn yourself out for the product. Schedule sleep and rest – you’re more creative and productive when you’re not beating your head against a wall. Try to find your flow in the chaos – when you’re in the zone, you’ll feel better about your work and ideas will flow. Use lulls in the product life cycle to go back to those minor and delayed problems and fix them to give your mind a different tact. Spend energy on propaganda of inspiration – get others excited about the work and psych yourself up with good design.
It’s important in designing solutions to prioritize effectively, especially as work comes flowing down the pipe at high speed. Effective prioritization means a more comfortable and easy workflow. Constantly be thinking about the vision to determine when ideas are good and when they can become critical flaws to the product vision. Work with your team to promote good ideas and mercy kill the bad ones by proving the concept out. Never be afraid to try and ideate. It’s important to look for cheap and effective ways to get the job done, not just for your team, but the company at large. Memento Mori – you’re only human and as such, you need to clear your mind from time to time and try to get into your flow whenever you can.