The Coffee-Filled Collaborator
This week I’ve been tasked with coming up with a list of the tools and superpowers I employ during my design. This was difficult at first, as I haven’t considered myself a designer. Having said that, the more I reflect on my experience both as an educator and a media professional, I see that I’ve certainly employed design techniques at times. So, the next series of sections are what I consider my design superpowers and how and why I use them.
I haven’t always been organized, but it’s a skill I’ve developed through necessity. Now it’s something I take very seriously. When pursuing design and other complex tasks, I’m quite convinced that the amount of information we’re required to consume and consider in our current culture is physically unmanageable. For that reason, I rely on the tools at my disposal to make up for my shortcomings. I make strong use of a calendar to organize my time, note-taking programs like Notes and OneNote, and I create folder systems on my computer to make sure I can find what I need efficiently. I now incorporate organizational skills and time management into my sales courses as I find the young people coming through our program have mostly not developed those skills… and they’re essential to be successful.
I love what I do. I love media… I love teaching… I love spending time with my colleagues and students. I honestly really enjoy it. This helps immensely when it comes time to be developing solutions to problems, educational or otherwise. There are few things that get me more excited than having a problem to solve. One of the tools I use to accomplish those problem solving tasks is Excel. I learned to use Excel from a colleague years ago and it’s been invaluable. In sales and marketing, we’re frequently presented with moderately complex math problems and it’s great tool to have in your utility belt.
When I’ve been presented with a design problem in the past that I haven’t had the tools or knowledge to solve… which is, frankly, frequently… I have to go hunting. Without question, the greatest resource at my disposal is the knowledge and experience of my colleagues. I work with an excellent team and our experiences and strengths compliment each other nicely. We rely on each other every day to solve problems and collaborate on our shared goals.
Terrifically Tech Savvy
I’ve always been a proud geek and am fascinated by technology and how its application reveals opportunities. In terms of design, I’m fortunate to have worked many years in the broadcast industry which has provided me with a wealth of multi-media skills, which I rely on frequently. I regularly work with tools such photography, videography, graphic design, editing, animation, sound design, and more. These are valuable tools and I enjoy putting them to use.
One of the main tools I use on a daily basis is my listening skills. Both in sales and in an interview setting, it’s important to be able to actively listen to your clients and collaborators. In an effort to establish an understanding of their needs, one must listen carefully for what’s being said, and frequently what’s not being said, which can lead to probing questions to get more information.
I believe my creativity actually stems from a character flaw I possess. I get bored easily. This assists me in my design as I put myself in the position of coming up with new solutions to problems. Sometimes the difficulty comes in curbing the urge to be creative. In many situations, old solutions work well. I have to remind myself not to apply creativity to a problem for creativity’s sake, but to reserve that skill for when it’s appropriate.
Compassion is essential. If you don’t care about the people for whom you’re building solutions, you won’t have any longevity. One of the greatest joys of my job is seeing the people I work with become successful, at least in part, because of my contributions to their success. This is true for both my students and for the clients of my radio station. A genuine caring for the people with whom I work allows me to dig a little deeper and come up with solutions that benefit them in the long term.
Finally, one last skill I rely on frequently is my methodical nature. I like to develop systems for completing projects. With that in mind, I look forward to learning more about instructional design models in order to find a place to fit that new tool in amongst these others.