Orchestrating learning experiences for positive change In UX Teams

Organizations aiming to create better customer experiences struggle with coordinating cross-functional and dispersed UX team around a shared vision. To help enable positive change, I designed a series of orchestrated activities aiming to bring together a community of User Experience Practitioners and advocates for people with disabilities in my company. This pertained workshops and presentations aiming to initiate a positive change in the workplace. Along the way, the subject matter was expanded to better support the company objectives and craft a compelling vision.

A changing world of work

Today's work environments are driven by technological advances that enable individuals at organizations to interact with each other via computers and mobile devices. The casual workspace has replaced the "9 to 5" style of work in shared working environments and work is done literally everywhere, with the use of mobile technology and broadband Internet. This evolving workspace allows for diverse work styles with flexible work hours, high discretion over work and work-life balance. However, the consequences of the use of teleworking have raised a broad range of issues concerning isolation , the lack of social interaction and low quality of working life.

Applying the theory

A basic element of society is the sentimental identification or, in other words, the sentimental bond of individuals with the group of people with whom they live. Apparently, the same sense of belonging applies to the dynamics of a project team and maximizes cohesion, as it increases the worker's commitment and motivation. As George Homans points out, the outcomes of group formation are productivity , satisfaction and personal development. To achieve that, a stage of development has to be reached in the team, in which members are expected to form strong sentiments for each other via shared activities and interactions.

The major element of Hofmans theory is interaction.

Working at a distance from each other, by means of asynchronous communication like e-mail, and with physical proximity usually absent, conflicts may arise between individuals. With demands of speed of response and adaptability in the growth of communication technologies heightened by corporations, the development of the team may weaken, and personal relationships between group members can often remain uncultivated.

There are possible constraints in the performance of the team.

The results are alienation, dissatisfaction and poor performance. This in turn, can result in designing customer experiences with little or no value.

Enabling effective collaboration in UX teams

A lot of what individuals learn within an organization is not designed (i.e. happens unintentionally). However, traditional workplace learners are very reliant on learning initiatives that have been designed for them. If organizational strategy aims to enable effective and efficient collaboration across teams, then workplace learning should be an integral part of daily work. Designing, delivering and managing workplace learning for cross-functional UX teams in specific, pertains the orchestration of learning experiences to get people "on the same page". Three concepts are critical to getting people on the same page: 1) Their common objectives (i.e. the team's objectives); 2) Their individual roles and responsibilities; and 3) The agreed-upon rules of their collaboration and decision making. Roles are established via project management methodologies. Project managers can help organizations select the most effective methodology and enable cross-functional UX teams to work efficiently together. However, the organization should also consider cultivating a mindset about how people think and learn at work as well as adopt a project management methodology that suits corporate culture and has the potential to encourage collaborative work attitudes and foster a motivating work setting.

Building teams on the basis of ethics

What all group formation theories recognize is that, as individuals share activities, knowledge and experiences as part of their daily work, they grow into effective teams that successfully meet their work needs. There are certain values into effective group process, such as a commitment to open communication, mutual accountability and appropriate peer and self-evaluation, among others. A starting point for all teams is their professional body's Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Every work team bears a shared responsibility to uphold and promote the principles that guide their work and protect their interests.

Orchestrating learning experiences

Designing learning experiences for UX teams necessitates a solid understanding of the needs of modern professionals (i.e, why do modern professionals learn?), as well as a foundation on how to deliver and manage workplace training. The designed learning experiences at Eworx aimed to connect the evolving needs and behaviors of UX professionals with business objectives for UX teams to learn how to work productively and efficiently together. Modern professional learners indicate that the most valued ways to learn at and for work are continuous, self-organized/and self-directed experiences and activities that happen as part of daily work and interaction with people ( https://modernworkplacelearning.com/7th-annual-learning-in-the-workplace-survey-results/). The latter (i.e. leveraging human-centered work processes) has been recognized as the heart and soul of performance improvement and innovation.

People prefer to learn at work.

Looking to leverage the appropriate channels to deliver value both to the organization and the UX team, I organised a series of workshops. The subject matter varied from presentations to design thinking and usability workshops; it aimed to help team members reach their potential and motivate them but also involved the establishment of a common goal to support and connect them.

A series of podcasts for positive change

When designing the learning experience and evaluating the learning subject matter, an opportunity emerged to rethink the relationships between individuals and how they work in UX teams. I documented my thoughts to a series of podcasts which I hope will open new opportunities to reimagine and work towards an effective UX team.

The podcasts are available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/call-to-action-a-podcasting-series-for-creative-people/id1437196303?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Acknowledgements

I thank all my colleagues at Eworx for taking part in the learning experiences.

Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.