I’ve been willingly doing myself out of a job, and it feels great.
So, who are Better by Design? in their own words, they:
Inspire and enable New Zealand businesses to success by design. Our mission is to assist companies increase their international competitiveness through the process of design integration.
Each ‘design integration coach’ has a specialism. Mine is customer insights and user centred design, a core part of my design research consulting practice.
So how does this mean I’m doing myself out of a job? the answer is right there in the word coaching.
The programme exists to build design capability within the staff companies already have, rather than make them reliant on external consultants.
Design often begins with design research, so this is where I step in as a coach – taking people away from their desks to learn new skills while gaining valuable insights for their business.
This is a new way of working for me, and has me thinking about what I do from a fresh perspective.
I’ve been consulting for 12 years – starting with being what I now see as a ‘hit and run’ gun for hire, then moving towards a more collaborative approach, involving clients where possible to help them benefit from the process.
…but coaching is about more than collaboration and as the crude graph above shows, it feels like a step up in value to client and satisfaction to me along the way.
I’ve been taking teams with no experience of design research out into the field to run ethnographic studies with their end users, dropping them in the deep end, and the driver’s seat as much as possible. If it’s scary for me, it must be even more so for them but the fully immersive approach is engaging and it works. Here’s a case study from this project, (about craft brewing)
My first client in this programme is now able to plan and run their own projects. Next step is for those involved so far to coach their colleagues to their newly-found skill level. Despite the feeling of being less useful to the client over time, seeing them make increasing use of the skills like this is a real buzz.
All ‘teach a man to fish’ proverbs aside, I’ve found this to be a hugely rewarding way to work, with lasting value.
If you’re a freelancer or consultant and have a client who could benefit from bringing the skills you offer in-house, take them on the journey. It’s a win-win.