On every team that I’ve ever worked with, there are hunters and farmers. The terms were originally used in sales to refer to salespeople who would go out and “hunt” new business, versus the farmer who was better suited for cultivating growth opportunities within existing customers. In the context of a UX team, both are important, but for very different reasons. Both are necessary, but for very different objectives. Identifying them early and understanding their strengths and weaknesses will help you utilize their skills more effectively, at the right time, and for the right project.
“Hunters are the researchers and designers who will create something from nothing.”
The Hunter – Hunters are the researchers and designers who will create something from nothing. With little guidance and structure, they will excel at producing results. They are most effective when time is a precious commodity, clarity is low, and budgets are tight. This is why they are often drawn to and excel in startup environments, where their talents are constantly tested and their growth ensured. Product leaders often emerge from this camp, as their ability to move quickly, efficiently, and effectively produce results with less oversight and supervision. That doesn’t mean they will make good leaders, as those are only a few of the ingredients needed to produce an effective leader. However, their actions and personalities tend to get them noticed quicker, and their results lend additional weight to that factor.
“Farmers excel when the work is understood clearly, support systems are in place, and chaos is low.”
The Farmer – The farmer may get an unfair and bad rap at times. They tend to be 9-5, steady-paced, and even-keeled. While they may require more guidance and structure, they are essential at producing good (even great!) work through the product life-cycle with a stead-fast professional demeanor. Farmers excel when the work is understood clearly, support systems are in place, and chaos is low. They tend to be more balanced in their approach, their work more detailed and in-depth, and their results more polished and refined. Equally as important as anything produced by the hunter, albeit slower and more measured.
Summary – Both the hunter and the farmer are essential to your team, and both deliver value effectively in the right context. Get to know your team on a deeper level by observing how they engage others, how they approach problems and solutions, and how you can best help them grow along the way. Ultimately, you will be more effective at utilizing their strengths within your organization and helping them do their best work.
written by Shane Close, originally appearing here