One method that saved my design career

I am an user experience designer by profession and my job is not about designing. It is all about decision making.

My job is all about deliberately choosing one path out of 1000 possibile paths in front of me every moment. I can't afford to make bad decisions in the design phase so I am forced to choose meticulously.

Sometimes, the choice making happens in split seconds but sometimes it takes weeks together to make one right decision.

Irrespective of the decision type (big or small), I must have an account of all decisions taken so far so that I can articulate the thinking process to stakeholders who bet on my design choices.

The sum of choices is the product. In other words the product is the decision. While decision making is crucial, as a student of cognitive psychology I  am also well aware of our innate cognitive biases and their intrusion to good decision making process. As a design professional I can't afford to fall prey to biases.

Here is one method which singularly accelerated my career path.

The method is to keep track of all decisions in a decision journal.

Here are 5 best practices to keep a product decision journal (you could also keep a life decision journal if you want to):

  1. Decisions which might be irreversible and have high consequences are written down in a structured format before the decision is made.
  2. The decision is brewed over a day or several days depending upon the gravity of the decision to be made. After several pre-mortems the decision is implemented.
  3. Catching mistakes even before a decision is made saves a lot of energy, effort and resources.
  4. A decision note explains the thinking process and the context. In that situation, what is known and what is unknown is also clearly documented.
  5. Every 100 days review the decision journal to see how the decisions have impacted the product.

By keeping a log of all important decisions, articulation and alignment gets easier with product teams. In addition, the quality of thinking gets better over a period of time. The circle of competence grows organically using this method.

🥂 to decision journals!

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