I joined a consulting firm just as I came out of the private sector, where I was the customer of technology. In my new role, I found myself on the opposite side of the intersection of business and technology, where I was looked to as the expert. I realized quickly that I had to be agile and innovative instead of demanding a solution to problems that were both challenging and complex.
I see many parallels between my challenges then and mobile ambitions of many young design teams these days. Whether we are talking about mobile app development, mobile websites, enterprise mobility, or mobile business intelligence (BI), the same lessons that made all the difference for me also apply today, particularly in fast-paced environments.
Here are six tools to make your mobile design teams more effective.
1. Solve problems—don’t complicate them
Remember you’re here to solve problems, not complicate them. The fundamental goal of mobile design is to satisfy unmet needs through mobile solutions. Your customers (users) must be able to discern quickly what your mobile end product does and what’s in it for them. Moreover, I always argue that they need to connect with it at some emotional level. Most decisions to adopt or embrace a technology solution (if it’s a choice) are usually out of either like or hate for the product. A surprising number of teams miss this.
2. Paint the big picture because it matters
When you’re developing a mobile solution, you have to paint a clear picture of what the solution should achieve — not just for yourself but for all members of your extended teams, up to and sometimes including your customers (end users). Consider this your value proposition or mobile impression as discussed in this post. When your teams understand the big picture, they’ll be more motivated to seize and execute the details of your mobile strategy.
3. Transparency promotes collaboration
It’s about creating an environment where your mobile design teams feel safe to share openly and collaborate freely. This means fostering a spirit that encourages taking a holistic view of the mobile user experience and enables looking at all parts of your solution objectively by speaking openly about what challenges or problems you are facing. And the trick is to extend this collaboration beyond the core teams. You want to instill it in all members of your extended teams from development to mobile support to communication. And it all starts with leadership.
4. Don’t kill a mosquito with a shotgun
Attack problems aggressively, but tackle them with an eye on the impact to the user experience and/or overall user community. When you’re trying to solve a problem, you need to take into account all facets of the mobile user experience. Remember that mobile can be a tricky business because many layers, such as connectivity or users’ choice of device, can be out of your control.
This is critical if you want to manage the perception, which dictates reality. The best teams don’t lose sight of how they need to balance risks and rewards when it comes to impact and utility, a concept that I discussed in the context of mobile BI here, but is equally applicable to mobile design in general.
5. Use a safety net to encourage innovation
Whenever a new technology such as mobile is rapidly expanding in both functionality and reach, there’s a tremendous opportunity to innovate. This can sometimes be challenging for traditional businesses models that may not be suited for the velocity it demands. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in that situation. Remember that people tend to be creative and productive when they feel secure enough to take risks. Build safety nets that will allow them to experiment.
6. Make the best idea always win
Innovation by teams is toughest when there’s a lot of ego involved, and mobile is no different. Don’t bring your ego to the design table. Whether you’re solving an existing problem or designing a brand new mobile solution, seek ways to put distance between individuals and their work. When you promote passionately that the best idea wins, you’re much more likely to solicit constructive feedback and ignite ideas that would have been otherwise suppressed or never discovered.
What other tools do you use to make your mobile design teams more effective?
For more management strategies that drive growth, see How Empowering Employees Creates a More Engaged Workforce.