The Importance Of Sharing Knowledge

{ 🙏 } – Create an environment where design can thrive

Getting in sync is part of almost every conversation I have as a Product Designer, no matter how small or large. With product managers, developers — even the CEO. Ranging from topics such as why a button is put in a particular place through to discussing how we might validate a feature that presents risk and may or may not add substantial value to the customer and the business.

Each conversation and interaction between people on a team build more tacit knowledge within a group. To the point where you can know people’s preferences and opinions before they even express them — but that’s not where we start, and we don’t get there overnight.

It takes time to build connections like this through shared work and experiences. As designers, we can lead by example and help our team create these connections by sharing knowledge and creating transparency. Specifically, by sharing our design process and insight into why we do certain activities that help us relentlessly focus on the customer.

By doing this, we also create an environment where good work — not just design work — can be done.

Here are a few ways you can share knowledge and increase transparency to create an environment where design can thrive!

Sharing design process

Share your design process

Create an environment of clarity and understanding.

Help people understand what goes into the final product by demystifying the process. It can be challenging for people to comprehend why certain things take so long and this is true for design as well as development. Not everyone fully understands the nature of our work, and it’s our responsibility to break it down for them. Knowing the “why” that drives the design process creates clarity as it reveals the motivation and thinking that underlies it all.

Sharing your design process helps people get in sync with you. It allows people to understand and empathize with you and creates an open door where people feel more welcome and engaged. It makes design approachable and will set an example for your team, hopefully creating more transparency in other areas and from other people.

Don’t just share designs, express the value to the customer

Share insights into design decisions to create a customer-focused environment.

The customer is behind almost every design decision we make. As designers, we think about what makes sense for the customer and how we can add value to their experience with our product. It’s easy to lose this sentiment if we present designs, without bringing it back to why it’s good for the customer.

Framing your design decisions in the context of the customer will help other people think in a customer-centric way. While we may not be able to remove personal biases 100% of the time, framing decisions this way will take the focus off of what we want and place it instead on what we think is good for the customer.

Team meeting with knowledge-sharing session

Be an advocate of validation

Share validation techniques to create an environment where ideas can evolve.

In the early days of a product, product roadmaps are fraught with a certain amount of risk. Sometimes we have useful data and information to inform the features we build, but many times we don’t. Designers, especially ones familiar with lean UX understand how validation (or attempts to validate to the best of our abilities!) can help us hone in on what’s crucial and viable and maybe even save some time, money and effort.

Help your team make better decisions by offering suggestions on how to validate a feature(s) before building it. Or — use design to visualize how you might take a significant feature and break it down into a smaller one, to get it to market faster to learn.

Being an advocate of validation will help people understand that there are steps we can take to mitigate and deal with the uncertainty we face when building features. Creating an open dialogue around validation will allow other people on your team to contribute ideas and creates an environment where these ideas can be iterated upon and evolve.

Team meeting with knowledge-sharing session

Teach people how to give feedback

Share how to give good design feedback so good design work can happen.

Think about the last time you had to make a decision, but you didn’t have the information you needed to do so. I bet it was frustrating. Taking part in a design review without knowing how to is not much different. The discomfort and confusion can create friction in the group, which may or may not cause harm, but it’s friction nonetheless. People need to be guided and educated on how to do a well-done critique.

When people have a framework for giving good feedback, design reviews are less likely to go off the rails, and we can focus on honest, respectful and constructive conversations. A designer’s dream!

Understanding what design really is, is a prerequisite for giving good feedback. It hardly ever hurts to remind the group what design is.

Design is the intentional solution to a problem within a set of constraints.

Mike Monteiro

A design has many inputs and constraints is one of the most significant drivers underpinning the decisions we make as a product team. Often there’s the “ideal” scenario, and then there’s what we can actually do given the constraints.

Sharing knowledge with your team has some really great benefits and can help to:

  • Foster great outcomes
    When we share knowledge, we make the whole team stronger by being more aware. In the place of knowledge, personal opinions can take center stage and groupthink can steer conversations in the wrong direction.
  • Empower people
    Knowledge can empower people on your team. Not only does it aid in understanding but it’s what it enables people to do that is really powerful, which is collaborating with you — in a constructive way.
  • Reduce friction
    Knowledge helps people get in sync with one another. Without it, your mind must make leaps and fill in gaps in an attempt to get on the same page. These barriers are much more natural to get past when groups share knowledge.
  • Create buy-in
    When people feel heard and part of the process, they are more flexible and understanding. As a result of this, it’s easier to get buy-in from people on your team people feel more united.

Are there opportunities in your team or projects where you can share more knowledge? Or, perhaps there are ways to engage with your team in a more collaborative way using knowledge sharing that you haven’t tried yet?

If you want to contribute to next the issue of Phase Magazine, just drop us a line:

Jess Eddy Avatar

Jess Eddy / Digital Product Designer

Using simple, usable product design to help build businesses and unite software development teams. Currently working in EdTech. Into teamwork, strength training, and coffee. Writer and side project aficionado, maker of UI Goodies (