Helping internal service designers is a fascinating way to test our own framework and competencies
For the past 18 months I have been helping to develop and guide a group of internal service designers in a large organisation of several thousand. It is fascinating how the emphasis changes where I have to truly understand ont only the problems and characteristics of the organisation and their managers, but I need to actually support each of the 5 internals individually and according to their individual situations.
Helping someone else means that I have to clearly help them to develop in the way that suits them, and in a way that helps them to become rounded and competent designers.
What I had to do is to formulate the way that I work into a methodology that was accessable by others. So I had to start thinking and writing. I had to work with each of them and understand their gaps, and requirements for support.
One outcome was that I reinforced my own learning. I also created a document that was a guide to help us focus on the things that really were the fundamental things to forus on. Each of them did not need to all work in the same way, but they needed similar fundamental principles and techniques.
After working with them for so long, I now leave them to develop together. Building on their individual strengths, and being confident in themselves to learn and move forward.
The way I did this was to work with them and their teams. So, initially I observed and gave suggestions and advice offline, one to one. For me this is critical because I can then spend the time understanding the true nature of the work they are doing, and creating a complete picture. I also observe the designer, and understand their relationship with their team. Also looking at their focus and framework of their methodology.
I also need to understand the purpose the strategic direction of the work. In one case, my invovlement resulted in the closure of a main stream of work, that had no hope of achieving a successful outcome.
Once I have done this, I can then start to do some work directly with the teams, and then the internal can observe and learn from my approach and behaviour.
One thing that I very rarely did, was to be critical about their work, or tell them. In such situations I had to carefully construct a logic, and discuss with them about alternative ways of achieving what they were doing. Sometimes I had to wait until the path forward was obvious, and maybe allow them to fail a little. Other times I stated a view, and it was always up to them if they then took on that view.