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UX expert Caroline Jones: The making of a mentor

Divina Paredes | Oct. 13, 2015
Caroline Jones, who is manager of experience design at Aderant, learned over time that trying to be all things to all people is not a sustainable model.

Caroline Jones, who is manager of experience design at Aderant, learned over time that trying to be all things to all people is not a sustainable model.

“By taking a more strategic approach and empowering others to become the experts, I have found a greater sense of fulfilment and a sustainable model, says Jones, who joined the legal software provider in late 2014.

Jones has been applying this philosophy in her other role as mentor to both people in her workplace and in external organisations through the years.

She relates how she got into mentoring, and why she believes more organisations and ICT professionals should engage in the activity.

“Organisations that are seeking growth or managing large programs of work might want to reconsider this as an approach,” she states. “Having people onboard that have the time to actively mentor and develop those around them helps to mature the organisation as a whole and ultimately leads to better outcomes for the business.”

She says her mentoring approach is cemented by a ‘Design Thinking’ Ethos.

“I encourage the person I am supporting to adopt a similar mindset to that which you find in human-centred designers. I’ve found this to be a key step in establishing a mentoring relationship. It gives the mentee the tools that they need in order to be able to ask the right questions, remove personal biases, and to consider perspectives they might not otherwise have considered. This in turn maximises learning and development potential."

She explains a Design Thinking mindset involves a specific approach to a situation where a person adopts the following ideas and attitudes as they work:

  • Building empathy by being human-centred
  • Being relentlessly curious
  • Having a bias towards action and learning by doing
  • Being collaborative and bringing together multidisciplinary teams to ensure diverse perspectives and expertise are explored (which also provides a platform for consensus),
  • Exploring many ideas first before narrowing to a few, and experimenting with and refining those ideas by building prototypes that are then put to the test with the intended audience.

“Once we have established the foundations of our mentoring relationship, we focus on matters and challenges that the person is facing, and I encourage reflective thinking through shared experiences and storytelling,” says Jones.

“I continue to refocus them on the application of the design thinking mindsets, and nudge them towards building different perspectives, collaborating with others, exploring and experimenting with their ideas, and ultimately having the confidence they need to move forwards and resolve issues.”

Getting into UX

Jones says managing and serving as an advocate for Design Thinking has been a consistent theme across several of her previous roles. These include stints leading design teams at Fiserv and A&R Whitcoulls Group. She has also held more hands-on design roles, such as working as a senior consultant and interaction designer at Optimal Usability.


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