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
This is my first column on the management of UX. In my column, I’ll articulate what I’ve learned from my experience as a senior leader and several years in intensive senior leadership development programs.
Have you ever known a manager you felt shouldn’t manage people? Maybe you’ve worked for one. Most of us have at one point or another. On the other hand, most of us have also had great managers. What sets great managers apart from bad ones? That’s one of the questions I’ll explore in this article.
Almost weekly, I talk with a UX designer or researcher who wants to become a manager of a UX team. For some people, this is a good choice. Both they and their teams thrive. But for many, it’s honestly not the right goal, and the end result is that neither they nor their teams are happy. The book Now, Discover Your Strengths  suggests that we tend to be good at the things we love doing, and we love activities at which we excel. I find that we do our best work when we’re in a playground. (I’ll explore this idea more in my next column.) Isn’t life too short to pursue a path we don’t enjoy? Read More
The brutal fact is—we’re in a difficult economy. Every day, we hear about another company that’s laying off employees. Just yesterday, an article on Yahoo! News reported “Mass layoffs involving 50 or more workers increased sharply last year, and large cuts appear to be accelerating in 2009 at a furious pace.”
In fact, there were layoffs at Yahoo! itself in December. Letting people go is traumatic for everyone involved. It’s traumatic for the employees who are laid off, whose relationships to their livelihoods—not to mention their friends and colleagues—are abruptly severed. It’s painful to the remaining employees, whose friends and colleagues were so abruptly removed. Sometimes companies must make deep budget cuts to succeed, but it’s painful, and those of us who have been through layoffs before agree that it seems to get harder every time we do it.
When I look at who gets laid off though—regardless of the company—it’s always surprising. How do companies make the choices to lay some people off and keep others? In all of the layoffs I’ve observed, some of the most talented researchers, designers, and leaders have gotten laid off, while some much less skilled people remain. Why might that be? Read More