In the previous post in this series, we explored the process of creating a set of communal values for VidMob’s Product Design team. As the first exercise of its kind, it helped to define how we collaborate with the wider organization and each other. The project also gave us an opportunity to agree on a set of traits that anyone on the team — encompassing five design disciplines — could not only identify with, but put into practice.
The exercise resulted in a set of five team values and definitions: fearless, fun, honest, iterative, and objective.
In this post, members from the team share their thoughts about taking part in the project and what the values mean to them.
Emily Rinehart — Product design director
Over my 3.5 years at VidMob, our design team has tripled in size, but maintained a unique team culture. It embodies how we work together, how we have fun together, and how we deliver our best work.
So when our two newest team members announced they’d spearheaded a project to identify our team values, I was curious to see the results. It seemed a bit backward to have the newest colleagues identify our values. When they brought their ideas to the table though, it was really clear that no matter how new you are to the team, the unsaid values we maintain are evident even to those who recently joined.
Of all the values, my favorite is honest. It’s something that’s important to me inside and outside of work. A few years ago, our product leads conducted a workshop to identify some team principles. As part of our discussion, our senior director, Chris Mendez, made a suggestion that has always stayed with me, “We bring our whole selves to work.” As a value, that’s what “honest” means to me — being transparent, authentic, and our true selves at work every day.
Michael Ingram — UX research lead
I enjoyed working collaboratively to come up with team values for the same reasons I enjoy the ever-polarizing New Year’s resolutions. I’ve found that when I start to put thought into how I want to live my life and what I want to embody, I start living that way. My thoughts and habits begin to reflect those intentions. I become a better person to myself and those around me.
As far as I’m concerned, the same can be said for our team. Collaborating on a set of values felt like a great way of deciding who we want to be and becoming that. It was especially rewarding to do that exercise with a group of people who I work with, since it helped me to understand what everyone on our team sees as important traits in their co-workers.
I’m pretty proud of the values — they speak well for who we are as a team. Our values tell me that we take open and honest communication seriously. They tell me that we’re ok with being wrong, as long as we’re consistently putting our best foot forward and taking the lessons we learn seriously. They also tell me something I one hundred percent already knew: that we collectively have a sense of humor, and it’s important to each of us to enjoy ourselves when we come to work. I love all of these things about our team.
Of all the values we came up with though, the one I love the most is “Iterative.” I love being a researcher because it allows me to be consistently curious and ask a lot of questions. Researchers always have to approach their work with an open mind and curious attitude. Our goal is to discover new things to truly design products with other human beings in mind — products that people will love.
When we discover these things, our team has to iterate, and then we start the process over again. That process allows us to learn something new and take steps forward every single day. If we truly make following iterative processes a habit, I feel pretty good about our product and team’s chances at continued success.
Sasha Kerbel — UX writer
What I found interesting about collaborating on the product design team values was seeing which values our group decided on compared to the values I would’ve chosen on my own.
During our group brainstorm, I was throwing out words like “supportive” and “empathetic,” focusing on our intrapersonal dynamic and relationships. The words displayed on our final list, however, describe a design group with a forward-thinking disposition. As a team, we’re “honest” and “fun,” but also “fearless” — a trait that drives a lot of our innovation.
That trait also challenges me to rethink my own approach to work. Never before have I applied a word like “fearless” to myself! In fact, seeing the completed list of values initially left me wondering if I fit the criteria our team had created. Upon reflection though, it gave me an opportunity to reexamine how I view myself and my experiences. It made me feel proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Here’s why. Typically, moments like sharing my opinion in meetings, especially those when I’m feeling unsure of myself, or joining a new office happy hour tend to be pretty anxiety-inducing for me. What I hadn’t thought to appreciate — at least not before I saw it in the team values — was the fearlessness I show in those moments. So having “fearless” as a team value gave me space to challenge my view not only of what the word means, but what it means to have that quality.
Andres Maza — Senior product designer
The experience of outlining and defining team values is a new one for me. I’ve worked mostly on smaller design teams in the past, which often meant values are discussed and shared but rarely set in stone.
Now, later in my career, I’ve noticed that loosely defined values were ever-changing, not having them on paper meant the team never truly had a set of core principles we could ground ourselves in.
As a result, I loved coming together with my colleagues at VidMob to outline a set of core values for our growing team. The work we did will bring consistency to our work. The result will be seamless, thoughtful, and beautifully-crafted experiences that make sense to the user.
When I look back at our five values, I can’t pick a favorite. To me, they all speak to one another. Our values are self-reflecting (iterative), they’re fearless, fun, honest, and objective. What a great foundation for our team!
From the work to the personal arena, it’s clear these insights really resonate for our team. In some cases, the values have also had a profound and positive impact on how we think about ourselves. As team exercises go, that’s not a bad place to start. Let’s see where it leads.
VidMob’s Product Design practice is a diverse group of designers, writers, and researchers. Hailing from a wide range of backgrounds and places, each member of the team contributes a unique skill and mindset. Combined, their expertise fuels world-class products and user experiences.