In my last column, I talked about what it takes to be a successful first-time people manager—hopefully debunking some common myths. After reading that column, a number of people pointed out that they have a larger challenge: How can they make UX strategically relevant within their companies? I’ve been discussing this very topic with my peers in UX management for a number of years. One venue for discussion on this topic was a CHI 2007 panel “Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence: Whose Advice Really Works?” that Richard Anderson facilitated, in which I participated.  Since I’ve been talking with a colleague from Oracle about this topic over the last month, it seemed appropriate for us to collaborate on this installment of my Management Matters column. So, I’d like to introduce Laurie Pattison, Senior Director of UX at Oracle.
Although our UX management peers have shared many tactics with us that have made their groups more strategically relevant, we’re presenting just a few here. We’ll highlight what we feel are the most salient factors in getting you to the strategy table. If you’re not doing these things, try them out—or contact us if you want some help. Guidance from our mentors has been critical in helping us learn how to make our teams strategically relevant. Read More
As leaders of UX organizations, we want our teams of designers and researchers to design products that change the world—to engage in strategic design. Often, though, UX designers and researchers get stuck with incrementalism—designing minor new features for which another functional group has provided the requirements, expecting UX to design them—regardless of whether the UX team agrees with the product direction. Perhaps we find ourselves immersed in organizations or work routines that do not provide space to think differently. This column reveals some tools that can help your team to innovate.
While the business community sometimes overuses the term, innovation is the single most important factor in business. It is what makes any company different from its competitors. An innovation is a novel idea that a company delivers to market with highly profitable results. As UX professionals, if we want our efforts to be relevant to the business, we have to think about more than just insights or great designs. Ideally, our role is to find the intersection of customer delight and financial opportunity. We need to find ways of introducing great ideas that make our companies money. Read More
The title of this column may seem a bit harsh. That’s exactly what Robert I. Sutton’s publisher said at first, when he submitted a manuscript titled The No Asshole Rule.  Yet, they did publish the book, and it’s worth a read. I don’t use the term lightly, but as Sutton suggests, other terms such as jerk just don’t convey the same understanding or intensity.
My key point in this column is that we need to support, defend, and promote our artisans, or artists, and we need to eliminate the assholes from our organizations. In practice, I see a lot of managers who do not support their artisans—their greatest performers—but hold onto and even reward their assholes. In the end, an organization that rewards the wrong people can destroy its effectiveness and drive the most talented people out. Often, such managers just don’t understand why things aren’t working out and make excuses for their weak performers. Bottom line… Any manager who either doesn’t understand the difference between the artists and the assholes—or simply can’t make the hard choices—shouldn’t be a manager. As managers, we must be incisive and exercise the courage of our managerial convictions. Read More