A Narwhal? Don’t you mean a Unicorn or White Whale?
No I mean a Narwhal and let me tell you why.
I’ve been called this before and frankly I think its a bit of a negative. We all know that learning isn’t a linear focused thing, as humans we expand and absorb what we learn in several different ways and as User Experience professionals we all have overlapping skill sets. So its not unheard of that someone who is a designer doesn’t also code or someone who does research isn’t also a graphical designer. While there are those rare individuals who do it all, they are not always effective or they become pinch points in the development process.
Do unicorns exist? I’ll leave that up to you.
I can however say factually that Narwhal’s do. This is typically that lone User Experience resource working for a company wearing many hats and juggling product needs with timelines, expectations, users needs, testing and so much more. These individuals are unique is many ways because of their experience or backgrounds. A UX Narwhal typically has helped build design teams, mentor others within the companies that they work in and spread the gospel “User Experience isn’t just a single person’s job, its the responsibility of everyone.” Narwhals just like unicorns can run the risk of being a pinch point but do to experience know when and how to best apply their skills.
UX Narwhals appear to be learned and scholarly, often this perception is due to experience. Narwhal’s have at some point in their careers done the user research and testing or tackled the same problems more than once and have taken away insights. Narwhals understand that good ideas come from anywhere, not just themselves. Narhwals are always moving, searching, hunting and learning about the world around them. Narwhals listen. Narhwals dream of flying and being that individual who innovates. And Narwhals do exist.
While companies strive for catching a unicorn maybe they should really be looking at catching a Narwhal.