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
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
I hope so! Every discipline on a product team provides unique value—including User Experience, Product Management, Engineering, Sales, and Business Development. But each of them views the world through a different lens. When all of these disciplines deliver strategic value, their products delight users and their companies successfully differentiate themselves in the marketplace—which translates to greater revenue and profitability. Successful companies deliver a tangible value proposition. Think about it. What are the value propositions for Southwest Airlines, Apple Computer, Toyota, and Starbucks? Are they the same? No. Each is unique, and their value propositions are clear.
Just as companies need to differentiate themselves by creating and promoting a clear value proposition, so do UX groups. What is our value proposition? What can UX teams do that other disciplines cannot? We think in terms of design. We communicate visually. Nobody else can do this as well as we can. Other disciplines may do a much better job of communicating numbers in spreadsheets or giving slick presentations highlighting features. What we, as UX professionals, can do is bring possibilities to life by visualizing solutions for stakeholders and enabling them to see those possibilities in tangible form. Whether you’re in a company where UX already has a seat at the strategy table or are working toward that goal, you can help visualize big opportunities for your company. Read More