Process - A Retrospective on Perspective
People like to talk about their “process,” a word that sounds so rippingly pretentious when flanked by quotes. But process itself is actually a very necessary and healthy part of what I do, and being the fan that I am of routines and rituals, I like to give it its due. So here’s a little ode to my personal process.
First and foremost, my desk always houses my collection of Labbits. Mainly because they have salty little mouths and feisty attitudes alongside many opinions on interface design. They are a constant reminder to me that the reason I do what I do is to make users feel like those Labbits make me feel when they’re staring at me in that colorful little phalanx.
Sparse, empty desks are not my thing. I crave color and just a jelly smear of weirdness, which helps me to remember that software development is not just the playground of the rigid and left brained.
Sketching is one of my favorite things to do. Generally, I put on some ridiculous music like Hanson or Killswitch Engage and see what I can make happen with those markers. Some sketches are just as composed and pretty as a Miss America contestant…
…while some are unruly and messy and find their first-born moments on the squeaky whiteboards of meeting rooms. It doesn’t matter, as long as the sketch conveys the idea. I try not to get too particular about how they look or if they’re drawn on the back of my morning cereal box. Inspiration happens. I actually keep a dry erase marker in my bathroom to sketch on my mirror, because I’ve found that I work out a lot of complex UI issues while I’m showering. It confuses guests.
I like to let my artifacts take up a lot of visible space. (I also like calling them artifacts, because I can pretend that some future archeologist will be rifling through them with tongs like, “What the eff are these?”) I find it to be an effective way to see all of my work at once and to take moments to meditate on it. I also find that those pieces are conversation starters, and people who feel curious about the status of a project can walk over, immerse themselves, and comment away.
I don’t necessarily need walls, windows will do just fine, as you can see. I leave sticky notes around so that people can leave their thoughts in case I’m not around to hear them firsthand.
Right now I’m working at an agile development shop, which provides beaucoup opportunities to take over office space and draw boxes. I love agile’s emphasis on communication and flexibility - morning scrum meetings are one of my favorite rituals. I also have an office-supply obsession with colorful Post-It Notes and dry erase markers, so it’s no surprise that the kanban board I created for my team looks like this:
In short, I love my job because it allows me to define my process based on what speaks to and works for me. And allows it to shape shift and evolve exactly when it needs to. I think that’s the biggest misconception about software development - that it’s rigid and leaves no room for individuality or originality.
I mean, obviously that’s not true because, hey, look at me :)