Ways of working

Disclaimer: This is a work in progress, as much as I am myself. These thoughts are reflections of my own and are constantly evolving.

As an INFJ-T, I couldn't help getting involved in creating processes and mentoring, which naturally led me towards leadership. Over the years I’ve learnt a lot about myself which has helped define some of the principles here.

On leadership

I’m currently in the transition from designing “things” to designing “people”. I enjoy having conversations that shape a designer’s thinking (as well as having my brain scrambled).

I trust you

I want to empower you to do what you need to do—then I will do my best to stay out of the way. I may throw you into the deep end occasionally but I’m usually making an educated guess to push you in a learning direction that we’ve chatted about. I will always be your safety net.

Presence and curiosity

I won’t expect anything from someone that I don’t hold myself to. I will always try to show up and get excited. That excitement will translate into my hunger for knowledge. I often read and share what I have learned and encourage you to do the same.

Point of view

I try to never be the smartest person in the room - it ensures I’m learning. I will do the same for you. Ask why, and then ask why again. Form opinions, defend your opinions, and other people’s opinions if you agree with them. Gracefully pivot when your idea is not the best. I will always give you credit for your idea.

With a sense of positive progress

I like to tackle systemic problems but without trying to boil the ocean. If we can leave things better than we found them - however small - it’s progress. There are moments when we can make leaps and bounds and sometimes it’s much smaller.

With earnestness and eagerness

I am not the cool kid. Things take time and effort and especially as a woman of color, I like to unearth the effort we put into “things”. I have no desire to be a duck. Show me your process!

On design process

I follow traditional design methodology but these are unique bits I make sure to include in my process. Every process is different per its context.

Live your life

Ontological design is a discipline for designing human subjects. At its core is the feedback loop: the idea that by designing objects, spaces, tools or experiences, we are designing human subjects. Thus, my definition of being a good designer means living consciously and taking the time to experience the current designed (and undesigned) world.

Bring people along for the ride

Depending on the fidelity of your design, people will respond differently. I usually start with drawing before moving into digital tools as it allows me the ability to iterate quickly (and in a more tangible way where you can’t hide behind your screen from your user).

Look beyond the hedges

We often find ourselves siloed within our teams, organizations, and industries. As a systems thinker, I encourage competitor analysis across industries where and when possible to holistically bring solutions into reality.

"How” is just as important as the “why”

I place equal importance on those involved in the creation process as those that are served by the product, service, or system. As cliche as it sounds, I believe that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Balancing inputs for decision making

Although I tend to work through things methodically, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a designer is knowing when to put instinct first. I often talk about design-driven data decision making.

Thinking through making

Sometimes it's impossible to cognitively grasp and understand everything about a problems to solve, ways to solve them, or how possible solutions might resonate with users and stakeholders. Making helps to overcome these hurdles - and makes craft all the more important.

Walk away.

When we are in flurry of sticky notes, synthesizing outputs from research or trying to design the “best” interaction possible, knowing when to walk away and take a breath is important. I like to apply white space literally and figuratively.

Tinker it into existence

Balance is always a process rather than a goal. I often find myself asking what is the balance between staying in your own reality tunnel and feeling safe vs understanding the world and feeling uncomfortable? Answer: there isn't one. We're just tinkering it into existence. We are in constant allostasis.

Reviews and feedback

No one person has all the answers. Multiple viewpoints are always helpful in making better and more robust design decisions. Don’t be afraid of showing anyone a work in progress or asking questions. I’m not a fan of a “cave designer” and encourage you not to be either.

Reflect, reflect, reflect

At the beginning, in the middle, at the end. It cultivates mindfulness and humility in yourself, and those around you. 

Inspiration for this page from: Doon, Benaz, and Grant.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians on whose land I live, play, and work. I pay my deepest respects to all Indigenous Elders past, present and emerging.

© Feb 2024 Vinita Israni
No programmers were harmed in the making of this website 

Questions, criticism, and gibberish are always appreciated.

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