Deep Thoughts Series
By Jack Cole
The quest for finding the “perfect designer” for everything from an immediate project that had to be done yesterday to rounding out a creative team for a long-term position is something that my colleagues and I at Motivate Design are familiar with addressing. At face value, we would consider the idea of the existence of a true perfect designer being akin to Bigfoot – essentially, it is a myth. However, setting designers up perfectly for success in a project or working environment is something our team does with remarkable success everyday.
Whether it is for an existing Motivate client project or a UX Hires staffing opportunity, my colleagues Ken Moran – VP of Business Operations at Motivate and Lois Siegel, Director of Recruiting at UX Hires and I have seen our fair share of design talent come through our doors.
So, when the question of how we both define and find the perfect designer was posed in a recent internal Motivate team ideation session, I thought that sharing our approach and vision for building towards the future would be a good topic to highlight as part of this Deep Thoughts Series.
Finding the Right Designer is a Design Problem in Itself
As one might expect when challenged with answering such a broad and difficult topic posed in the room, the immediate answer to how we find the perfect designer is: “It depends.” This was spoken almost in unison between Ken, Lois and I because it is 100% true. With the evolution of industries at-large over the past 25 years, the idea, definition, and key characteristics of a designer has been expanded and blurred.
With these shifting roles and descriptions in play, we start by looking at what desired outcomes a client or hiring manager is seeking in order to find context and direction. As a result, our team augmentation and staffing approach is viewed through the same lens of design thinking as all of our problem solving; through attempting to Discover, Design, Validate, and Deliver a human-based solution for the need at hand.
Discover: Needs, Expectations, and Environment
Rather than immediately reaching out to an allotment of available people, we believe in starting with defining the need and desired solutions for that specific project or team hire. In addition to documenting core requirements we also look to connect with client partners and hiring managers on a human level in order to understand the pressures and challenges they are facing.
With requirements and partner expectations established, building an understanding of the environment potential designers will be working in helps round out the scope of what is essential for a successful experience. While this exercise in understanding goes well beyond what might be the normal approach in finding talented professionals, building a rapport and a shared language of what “perfect” means for each client partner experience helps put everyone at ease in trusting that everyone involved is aligned.
Environmentally, we also attempt to envision what working situations will look like for a given designer. With aspects ranging from working remote vs. in-house to understanding the number of collaborators, these discrete considerations are used to effectively marry candidates to situations which we know they can comfortably acclimate to and thrive within.
Design: Matching Criteria with Character
From a people exploration standpoint, our team of Motivators has built a custom-curated talent community that we can truly be proud of. Since Motivate’s first days as an agency, our client partners would say: “We’re building our own UX team, do you know any good people?” From that point, we began working with our clients and built a network of amazing people nationwide that share the same passion, skills, and values as our team.
As the years have passed, building a community of like-minded professionals has proven to be valuable both in terms of hiring for Motivate and staffing for clients as well as in knowing that good people with exceptional talent are out there helping collectively shape our world.
With these foundational roots well-established, when a specific project need or hiring opportunity arises, we have a rich group of candidates consisting of much more than just the strongest portfolios or list of bullet points on a resume. While being able to effectively present past work and prior experiences is an important factor, these amazing professionals also demonstrate a range of holistic characteristics ranging from being effective communicators to showing poise in meeting complex design challenges.
Validate & Deliver: Consistent Processes for Confident Outcomes
Similar to any research project we would take on, the secret to gaining insights is in applying a healthy mix of quantitative reviews that meet job requirements along with qualitative considerations. One of the qualitative approaches Motivate and UX Hires has adopted was inspired by the EOS® GWC™ approach. Part of a larger organizational philosophy which we’ve adopted, we’ve woven in the consideration of whether a given candidate Gets it, Wants it, and has the Capacity to Do it for a given opportunity. Regardless of the need for either a Motivate Team Augmentation solution or a UX Hires staffing assignment, designers are then viewed under the same Motivate lens so that we can deliver and make recommendations with confidence.
Bespoke vs. Automation: Yes & Yes
Going back to our internal conversation in the Motivate office, some of the conversation moved over to where the opportunities reside in finding “perfect designers” through automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. As these resources have become more prevalent and reliable, we will no doubt look to advance our solutions leveraging automation and AI in an effort to improve what we do. It is however understood that any enhancement that we pursue still retains what Motivate and UX Hires believe is our competitive advantage – a human experience tailored to the unique talent needs of each client or hiring manager’s situation.
Similar to the common TV trope of building the “Perfect Boy or Girl” (my favorite is the show Small Wonder from the 1980’s), building the perfect designer still requires us to employ the same design thinking processes we would to any experience. Our goal will always be to infuse as much heart as there is intelligence in connecting people with projects or positions.
In the end, Motivate is in the business of building relationships and experiences that matter. The idea of the perfect anything is based entirely on the situation at hand and in the eye of the beholder. The solutions and services that we offer are by their very nature an iterative approach that learns from each touchpoint and experience. Success is measured in the clients we’ve worked with over the years, the potential we’ve helped unlock in the designers and researchers we’ve connected and worked alongside, and in the satisfaction of customers who have benefited from experiences we’ve influenced.