Rather than believing you have to pursue the industry experts, it is better to do the work, roll up your sleeves and investigate.
Sharing the results and the processes in getting to the finishing line can be a far more rewarding experience.
Laura Yarrow, our senior UX consultant, shares her perspective of a well-worn term, ‘thought leader.’ Laura recognises the importance to start looking at better ways of sharing ideas and the proof that can contribute to the UX industry discussion.
Laura acknowledges that the ‘thought leader’ represents a very low barrier for entry, as opposed to years of study from lawyers, accountants, or doctors. Laura says, “It’s a way for people to elevate themselves above their level of competency unchecked. Whilst it is fantastic to have the means to share and publish, it can add to the noise within our industry.”
Who Do You Trust?
The difference between what you read, watch, hear from someone you know, or don’t know, comes down to trust. Laura highlights, “Imagine you are starting in a career in human-centred design and need practical, sound advice or resources. Is someone who has never walked the walk and battle scars going to add much? Are you going to be misled?”
“I think more than anything though, it’s the audacity to think that just an opinion holds weight, compared to those that have the right to talk from experience. You probably know the types of articles you have probably seen, Is it UX or CX? Are personas useful? Is everybody a designer? Should designers code? It can become a red herring to draw you in, and sometimes benefit the creator, not the audience.”
Rather than just casting the thought leaders to the side, we all need our heroes to look up to, learn something new and become familiar with a perspective within the industry. Laura believes that we all need to be objective, “If someone is being vocal, is their opinion backed up? Do they talk from an experience that informed it?”
There Is A Place For You
This presents the opportunity for all of us to make our stamp within the UX industry, no matter what age, we can lead from our actions and making sense of the world we are part of.
Laura says, “Don’t just follow the “big names” look to the people who are in the coal face and dedicated and vocal within their profession. Try and find those that are doing the work, and can talk from experience. I would also suggest joining communities of practice that are often led by those who are present or can connect you with those that are to follow. We can all contribute and step forward to share what we are passionate about and the direction for where the industry can sail.”
“Always ask yourself if what you are reading, watching or listening to is 100% opinion and a not a fantastic marketing tactic.”
Bring people together
It is better to stop thinking about status but share better ideas that can bring people together.
Sharing solutions and practical advice to an audience who wants to listen and participate are far stronger than pitching yourself as someone with prominence but shouting in an empty room.
The future belongs to those who can stand up, share and be counted, rather than pursue a self-proclaimed title. We can all discover a place to be heard.