Diligent design thinking

November 14, 2021

I've been working on government service teams for almost 6 years. For much of this time, the pace has been very high. In the spring of 2019, I paid the price. I burned out.

Since taking a break, doing something else and then returning to government in 2020, I've noticed a change in myself.

I've slowed down. I've grown up and become more thoughtful. I've become more diligent.

On some occasions, this gentler pace of mine conflicts with what's needed from our team and from other people in government. They need it now or worse, they need it yesterday.

In these situations, I step up and make it happen; to deliver what's expected of me.

Yet, these days number far fewer than previously and for that I'm grateful. It also helps that our team has grown from just me, to 3 of us and now 8 people, with more on the way. Our collective load can be shared, and our burden eased.

Due to my job changing – taking on more design leadership and being less involved with day-to-day activities – I've gone from panicky start-up mode to a long-term maintenance and growth mindset. What I design, recommend and support must be more thoughtful and intelligenly formed as its reach and impact have increased significantly.

For example, if I develop a design pattern or advise on a technical direction, it will likely impact many new services in the future. The design choices of tomorrow will instantly make today's services out-of-date and thus require an update. You can see how this has a compounding effect.

When I started in 2015, the reach of these types of design decisions was only 3 or 4 services. This change in scale dramatically influences how I approach my work. Some may find my pace too slow, but it's on purpose. I need to be more considerate and nuanced. I require more room to make decisions. Still, we need to ship the thing.

In my new role, I've enjoyed being granted the distance between the everyday and what lays years ahead, and in far off spaces.

This transition has been challenging in new and sometimes intimidating ways, but I've appreciated the opportunity to be more diligent in my design thinking.