Growth is the best, most sustaining career skill one can master. It's also difficult and unrelenting. For this reason, I devised and launched UQ University at Upperquad. UQU is a subtle, low-pressure way to create an environment that nurtures growth as a vital skill, fostering resilience, adaptability, and a natural desire to learn.
The crux of the initiative is to unearth the unique skills and interests that exist within our team, promoting a culture of continuous learning.
The prototype is purposely simple. It's presented as a simple doc and list of ideas (provided below). The idea is to keep it pressure-free and inviting, solicit ideas and find some favorites to get the initiative started on the right foot. Energy and inertia will snowball from there.
We offer our initiative not as a rigid blueprint, but as a flexible prototype, an inspiration for you to encourage knowledge sharing within your teams. As with anything you must cultivate a version that suits your specific team dynamics.
We can teach each other stuff!
How’d you do that?
What does this do?
When should I use this?
How do I make it better?
Devs teach Designers! Designers teach Devs! Writers teach drawers! Brawn teach brains!!
Let’s teach each other stuff!
Everyone at UQ has their own unique knowledge sets, interests, and skills. UQU is a place to share those superpowers with the class. Classes can range from short 15 minutes sessions to share a hot tip or favorite new skill, to longform primers on enigmatic apps and expertise.
Classes are low pressure and open experiences. Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate or skip out on things they already know. Anyone can teach a class! Got a skill? Show it off!
Ultimately we want UQ to be a place where we collectively share, learn and grow. UQU is a nice opportunity to do all those at once!
Let’s brainstorm ideas a list things to teach each other. Things you know and want to share, or things you have the desire to learn that you've seen one of your amazing teammates do. Add ideas, fav ideas, ask questions, have a good time!
Jd’s Illustrator tricks — bitmaps, live trace, edit colors, I can dissect an old poster or file to show how it’s made.
Bad drawing with Bryan — Learn how to draw badly well
After Effects — tips and tricks, maybe around easing or expressions, cutting, effects, useful hotkeys.
Blender series — Basic interface walkthrough, lighting, modifiers, good tutorials, etc.
Photography Part 1 — How the camera works, lighting placement and experiments, setting up and using strobes, capturing portraits.
Getting started with Processing — Maybe a dev can baby step with us setting up a basic viz experiment in processing
MG’s super-dooper components — some trickery with symbols and how to make them super flexible
Prototyping in Figma — The basics to get you started.
Client Communications —tips and tricks for communicating with clients
What do devs want from designers? — How would devs like our design guidelines to look? Is 2x really 2x? How do they get our font sizes? What the heck are “ems”?
Photo editing techniques to be instagram famous — Lightroom and Photoshop
Emily’s Typography Basics 101 —Rules of typography to help you understand and master type
Lottie limbo — do’s and don’ts of setting up lottie animations
Terminal time —getting comfortable in terminal so you designers can maaaaybe make commits or somethingggg.
It's amazing to pass the baton between team members and watch them own a skill or domain and get the rest of us up to their speed. Any opportunity shine light on an individual's excellence like this is a huge win.
These quick courses can kick off interests that some folks were maybe too afraid to try, or didn't know where to start. Learning can be scary because we all want to avoid false starts, or worse yet, complete failure. Here, we're doing it together, with a talented guide. UQU is often the seed that implants some root skills that never stop growing.
I'd suggest logging the project files and recording the sessions so new employees have access to everything you’ve learned thus far. Inevitably, it's a busy world and someone has to miss a course due to a meeting or a deadline. Recording it preserves it for those occasions too.
Why do this?
We all have unique skills and knowledge. The act of teaching doesn't just help others; it also reinforces our own understanding and expertise. UQU provides everyone with a platform to delve deeper into their specialties, honing their expertise while helping others develop a new understanding.
Our diverse roles – designers, developers, writers, and produces – all bring valuable perspectives that are worth sharing. Making courses cross-functional allows us to work more effectively together, enhancing team cohesion and synergy. When devs teach designers, and writers teach drawers, we all win!
It's been said that your only true, long-term competitive advantage is your culture and your people. Features can be copied and optimized, prices can be undercut, taste and popularity can change on a whim, and everyone is fighting for your audience's attention.
But a focused, together, and inspiring culture will consistently lead to innovation and improved offerings. In this way, teaching each other fuels our collective growth and progress as a company. By constantly learning new skills and perspectives, we are better equipped to adapt, innovate, and tackle new challenges.