Anabel Wagner was interested in working for a computer science related company and after much research, she applied for a role at IBM. By her second interview, her mind was made up. IBM was the place for her. In this article, Anabel shares ten experiences she has had in her one year as an information architect for IBM.
By Anabel Wagner
After one year at IBM, I think I made the best decision to join IBM. Here are some highlights from the enriching experiences so far.
1- I joined IBM Design Studio
May 2016, I joined IBM Design Studio, a different and disruptive area of IBM. In other words, a multidisciplinary team focused on finding users centered digital solutions through Design Thinking tools. My colleagues are mostly interaction designers, visual designers and developers, who are professionals with experience, ability and desire to do their work in an excellent way. The biggest impact for me was realizing I had a lot to learn. I chose to work at IBM because it was a challenge.
2- I participated in the redesign of the public portal of a major financial institution in Argentina
The first project I worked on was the redesign of the public portal of a major financial institution in Argentina. Within few weeks of starting, I participated in user tests and a workshop. From the card sorting to presenting the final version of the information architecture map in September the experience was amazing, a lot of teamwork, a lot of learning.
3- I learned to use the card sorting research methodology
To evaluate the information architecture for our client, we performed a card sorting, a simple and revealing research methodology. Through this test, we got to know the user’s mental maps and behaviors: How they organized the information? Are there any terms they did not understand? Are there any labels they had discarded?
4- I presented a first map of information architecture
I elaborated in Illustrator, the information architecture map for the client. To create this, I had to investigate and find the necessary information to organize, hierarchize and label the proposed structure. The biggest challenge was to elaborate it as part of a collaborative and iterative process where the purpose was to return the information found.
5- I committed myself to unconditional responsibility
While working on this project, my manager asked us to read the chapter “Unconditional Responsibility” from Fred Kofman’s book “Metamanagement”. When we met, we shared what we thought of our reading and what we considered relevant on post-it notes. This activity showed the common commitment of not victimizing ourselves.
6- I was a speaker at “Women in the Cognitive Era”
In September, I was invited as a speaker to “Women in the Cognitive Era”, an activity organized by IBM’s HR, to share insights about IBM to students and graduates of technical careers. I told them what IBM represented for me in those four months: teamwork, positive values development, life-learning and give the best of yourself to the tasks you perform.
7- I lived a month in Lima
In October, along with other members of the team, I traveled to Lima with the purpose of performing a usability test and a card sorting in order to evaluate the current state of the portal of a major financial institution. In addition, we organized the Visioning Workshop where I presented the results of the card sorting and a series of suggested guidelines for the redesign of the portal.
8- I led Content Track for a project
Before concluding my tasks as an information architect in the project with the major financial institution, I was assigned to lead the Content Track. The task includes editing and generating content for a new portal together with two other editors. This process taught me that being creative has to do with observing, putting the magnifying lens on reality. Also, that Design Thinking can be used to think and find the axes of words.
9- I started using Design Thinking tools
A key element of both testing and workshops was the use of Design Thinking tools in the process. An example of a tool that we usually use is an Empathy Map, which serves to sensitize the company about the final user of its products and the experience it offers beyond them.
10- I was part of an internal training program
Between February and March 2017, the IBM Design Studio organized an internal training program where we individually prepared a course on a specific topic. We attended training on Design Thinking, written communication, Watson Analytics, design of online forms and the books “Sprint” and “Designing for product strategy”. Like everything we did, it was the result of many hours of work and learning.
Every day, IBM continues to give me opportunities for growth and development and I am grateful for this unique opportunity.
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