Skip to main content

Being Held Accountable

‘It’s finally finished!’ you exclaim as you save your document for the last time.

You’ve spent three weeks painstakingly pushing pixels around your artboard in your best attempt to meet your bosses timeline. The quick-paced sprint cycle ends tomorrow, but you were smart enough to gather all of the essential requirements a week ahead of schedule. You met regularly with the engineering team to make sure everything you designed met their story criteria perfectly.

The following day code is pushed and everyone gathers for a sprint demo. Various stakeholders, subject matter experts, fellow colleagues, and of course, your boss all sign in, one by one, for the review. The engineers start walking through the new features and are asked to pause halfway through.

The CEO speaks up.

‘This isn’t what we had asked for during project planning’ she said with a mix of confusion and frustration in her voice.

Awkward silence.

‘Everything was implemented according to the mock-up’s’ says the engineering lead breaking the light static of the conference call in an effort to divert the CEO’s immanent scrutiny.

‘What mock-ups?’ she responds with.

It’s right then that you know all the digital fingers are pointing to you for failing to design, not what was asked for, but what was actually needed.

The Next Day

With a light sigh, you situate yourself in your office chair an hour early in order to beat the 9–5 crowd in an effort to avoid attention after yesterday’s meeting. You’re embarrassed but you’re not really sure what you could have done to avoid being the scapegoat for a failed sprint. Your computer chimes as you reach around and press the power button. You lay out your workspace while waiting patiently for your apps to load. Steam trickles from your coffee cup as you sip it, reviewing the sprint backlog for the day’s work. After making a few subtasks you get to work on the next batch of wireframes.

You open the branded sticker sheet you created and start adding component blocks to a new artboard. The sounds of tired coworkers shuffling into the building fill the office and you can hear them from your desk. It’s a little distracting but you’re especially focused on your work.

An hour goes by.

‘Hey, do you have time for a quick chat?’ pops up on the right side of your screen pulling your stare away from the wireframes you’re working on.

It’s your boss. You know he wants to have a “private discussion to clear any roadblocks”. Something you’ve heard him parrot several times a month throughout the organization.

You push yourself out of your chair and begin the walk to his office.

You tap your knuckles lightly on his door jamb.

He pauses working on the spreadsheet he’s got up on his screen but doesn’t immediately turn to look at you.

“Yes?” He asks as if surprised you’re standing in his doorway even though he wanted to chat.

“You said you wanted to chat” You reply coyly.

“I do, come on in.” he says and gestures for you to take a seat.

You spend the next hour and a half discussing the failed sprint and ways to improve for the next release.