We asked speakers at Config 2021 to share stories about the challenges, obstacles, and difficult moments that ultimately make products better. Below, we’re sharing some of the highlights. You can watch the videos on YouTube, and read on for some of our favorite moments.
At Config 2021, many of the sessions covered best practices for shifting team culture and building scalable processes. But difficult moments can put even the strongest teams and systems to the test. So much of your success comes down to how you handle project delays, unforeseen obstacles, and interpersonal conflicts. Here, we’re sharing tips from leaders at Shopify and Headspace on how to do just that.
After working on a project for a year and a half, Shanique Shields, Senior Designer at Shopify, heard that the team was going to roll back the feature. “At this moment,” Shanique says. “I felt like a failure. I didn’t know how to fix it.” At first, Shanique took the setback personally. Once she took a break from the project, she gained a new perspective that allowed her to see the project as a learning experience. “I realized that maybe I was too close to my work and I needed to take a step back,” she says.
Shanique came away with four tips after reflecting on the experience:
“Initially I felt like I had wasted a year of my life on this project,” Shanique says. But by doing that exercise, I realized that I’m actually proud and learned so much.”
Even if you have scalable systems and a strong team culture, sometimes communication just breaks down. When you come up against points of friction with teammates, Frank Bach, Lead Product Designer at Headspace, says that openness is the key to resolving conflict. “Try to be as transparent as possible and try to really hear what the other person has to say,” Frank says.
Even if having a tough conversation feels daunting, it’ll get you a lot further than letting the issue fester. “Try to be candid, objective, and step into your courageous heart to have that tough conversation and try to get through it,” he says. “You can’t get anywhere if you ignore the friction.”
And, it’s important to acknowledge when things go well. More than anything, Frank recommends practicing gratitude—”being grateful for being a designer, the work you get to do, the team you get to work for or work with,” he says.
If you’re interested in more learnings and takeaways from Config 2021, check out all of the talks on Figma’s YouTube channel.