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UX Leadership, Part 2: What Great Leaders Must Do

Leadership Matters

Leading UX teams

January 5, 2015

In Part 1 of our two-part series on UX leadership, “UX Leadership: The Nature of Great Leaders,” we discussed the need for great leaders in User Experience and what qualities and capabilities make a UX leader great. Now, in Part 2, we’ll describe the things that great UX leaders do to transform their companies into experience-led organizations—enabling them to deliver great user experiences that differentiate their products in the marketplace.

Great UX leaders integrate User Experience strategically into their organization, enabling them to differentiate their product and service experiences. They know how to set up an organizational structure for User Experience that enables them to work cross-functionally to deliver differentiated experiences. Such leaders inspire a culture that attracts the best talent and enables UX researchers and designers to do what they do best. They inculcate design thinking throughout the organization. Perhaps the most important thing that great UX leaders do is inspire a shared vision that captures the heads and the hearts of their team members and executives alike and enables them to hire and retain the best researchers and designers.

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Great UX leaders know how to engage and inspire their teams to produce truly stellar designs that win the support of executives, delight customers, and fulfill a deeper purpose for the designers themselves: the need to do great work that makes the world better. Such leaders also recognize that they must establish credibility and build trust by demonstrating competence, showing empathy, modeling the way, rewarding the right behaviors, and supporting their peoples’ career objectives. They cannot be ivory tower leaders. They must engage with their people, actively help them to grow and get better at what they do, and enable them to do their best work. We’ll explore all of these topics in this column.

Hire the Best UX Researchers and Designers in the World

No UX leader can transform an organization and enable it to differentiate on user experience without having amazing researchers and designers on his or her team. So UX leaders must attract the best talent in the world to their team. For most leaders, that can seem daunting—even if they don’t admit it publicly.

The best UX researchers know how to rapidly gain a deep understanding of users’ needs, including the logical and emotional factors that make users connect with and even love a product. Such researchers are rare and are an essential part of any UX team that is to have maximal strategic impact on their organization. Traditional UX researchers, who focus primarily on usability and user efficiency, do not provide the information that your organization will need to differentiate on design going forward. Nor are they able to keep up with the pace of agile or lean teams. Great UX researchers inform the designs of the future.

The best UX designers can elicit deep insights and design strategies from user research and envision engaging product user experiences that truly meet users’ needs. They can devise interaction models and workflows that make complexity seem simple. Great UX designers set high goals for themselves and are passionate about creating the best design solutions possible. They are masters of collaboration and do their best work on multidisciplinary teams. By leveraging findings from market and user research, great UX designers can create innovative products that transform markets and completely change an organization’s trajectory.

Of course, UX leaders must be creative in their own right to attract the best talent—as well as to tie UX purpose to corporate profits, inspire the confidence of executives, and thus, get the budget that they need to hire the best UX professionals and build their team to a level of staffing that can be effective.

Great UX leadership is about going after an audacious goal—transforming your organization into design-led company—with everything you’ve got and driving with enthusiasm to accomplish it. You’d never be able transform an organization that doesn’t understand UX design into a design-led company that consistently outperforms its competition without hiring passionate, world-class UX researchers and designers—who could get a job at any company capable of recognizing their value. The foundation of your team’s success depends on your hiring the best talent and giving them opportunities to do great work.

Creating a vision that attracts the best UX professionals, then successfully executing your vision with the help of your team and transforming your company delivers a thrill like none other. It’s like climbing Everest. When you achieve the nearly impossible, you get a rush of excitement. That’s what UX design is about. That’s what being a UX leader is about. To accomplish all of this, you need great researchers who can provide the essential strategic insights that enable your designers to differentiate your products. You also need great UX designers who have the confidence to try something new and innovative and whose designs will become the stuff of legends because you—as the leader—let them run with a new concept that expanded your vision of what was possible.

Establish a Strong Vision for User Experience

Great UX leaders envision a future that inspires and engages others and foster a shared vision. Establishing a strong vision for User Experience is the first requirement for your being able to consistently hire top talent. Of course, the best people on your team can help you to hone your vision, too. While your vision needs to be achievable, it must also be audacious, so it can capture the heads and the hearts of both your team members and executives.

Great UX leaders understand that the best UX professionals are uniquely motivated by the knowledge that they are creating something that will make a difference to the people who use it. Most enter the field of user experience because they care passionately about creating engaging user experiences that meet people’s needs and improve their lives.

For you to be successful as a UX leader, your vision must inspire the most talented UX professionals to work for you and to execute at the highest levels that they’re capable of achieving. The best UX professionals pursue opportunities that give them a greater purpose, so your vision should speak to their aspirations. Doing meaningful work that makes a real difference matters, and it matters more to most UX professionals than monetary rewards. While it is, of course, important that you pay stellar people what they’re worth, that alone is not enough to hire and retain the best people. Your vision must sustain them. So keep your people excited about your vision, and they’ll execute toward your audacious goal with enthusiasm and drive.

At the same time, you must demonstrate that your vision has the potential to significantly increase corporate profits. You need to help senior executives to understand and share your vision and get them excited about realizing it. You can excite executives by producing great design. If you can create a compelling vision that business leaders want to back, you’ll get the organizational support that you need to change the corporate culture and processes and enable your team to deliver truly transformational user experiences. (In a subsequent column, we’ll discuss how to change a corporate culture and processes in a way that stimulates great work.)

The key to your success as a UX leader is creating a compelling and audacious vision that excites business leaders and engages your team. If your purpose is to produce transformative user experiences that engage users and the result is corporate profits, your vision serves the corporation and your team members. Creating an engaging vision, then working to achieve it is among the most crucial aspects of effective UX leadership.

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Enroll Others in Your Cause and Inspire Them to Action

The best UX leaders find ways to enroll others in their cause—whether members of their team, their peers in other organizations, or executives—and spur them to action. They recognize that they cannot achieve their goals by themselves and must engage the emotions of people at all levels in the organization to overcome any obstacles that arise in their quest to reach their goal.

How often have you heard about core initiatives from leaders in your company, without their being any follow through to enroll people in the cause or inspire them to action? When this happened, how did you respond? You probably ignored the new initiative and just carried on with your normal work. That’s a pretty typical response.

If you want to involve your team and others in achieving your vision, you must first validate that your goal makes sense and will challenge and excite your team. Most importantly, you must enlist the help of your team in defining how to achieve your goal.

Working in close collaboration with a small, multidisciplinary core team—comprising Product Management, User Experience, and Engineering—is a great way to achieve alignment around a shared vision. In this approach, everyone on the team contributes their ideas for solving problems, and the team makes most decisions together, which results in deep cross-functional commitment to their shared vision. However, if the team disagrees about any specific issues, the person leading the discipline that is most qualified to make a particular decision is responsible for making the decision. An advantage of this approach is that it never devolves into design by committee. To learn more about this approach, read Pabini’s UXmatters article, “Sharing Ownership of UX.”

Rapid Design Labs are an especially effective tool in getting teams aligned around a shared vision and inspiring specific action. For Rapid Design Labs, you bring cross-functional teams together to identify a problem, discuss possible solutions, then converge on the single right solution, and finally, to identify the actions that each team member will take to solve the problem. For more information about Rapid Design Labs, see Jim’s UXmatters article, “Innovation Workshops: Facilitating Product Innovation.”

Envision Compelling Outcomes, but Let Your Team Determine How to Achieve Them

Great UX leaders envision compelling outcomes, but enlist their team’s help in deciding on the strategy for achieving them. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes the path that companies, teams, and individuals who have progressed from being average to excellent typically follow: First, they get the very best people on board; then, they let the team define their direction.

As we said earlier, your goal as a UX leader should be to have a team of the most talented, intelligent people possible working with you. The best and brightest offer useful perspectives on how to succeed. Thus, when you’re deciding how to move toward your goal, it would be a mistake not to solicit their input and really listen to it. In fact, this is a common refrain in many of the best business books out there. Jack Welch, in his book Winning, also points out that the best leaders “get every brain in the game.”

So, while you’ll decide on the goal, you should get your team to help you define the path to achieving it. Guide the discussion, asking questions along the way to get them to think about possible obstacles, risks, and opportunities. Expect their best efforts, and publicly praise team members for their helpful insights and their resulting successes. Give your team the recognition that they deserve. By doing this, you’ll foster trust and enable professional growth, so you’ll reap the benefits next time you set an ambitious goal and need your team’s help in realizing it. Plus, giving praise to members of your team and others in the presence of other leaders creates the perception that you are a great leader.

Take Risks, Rise to Challenges, and Embrace Learning from Failure

Great UX leaders take risks and seek opportunities to act. They encourage the exploration and rapid adoption of new ideas and approaches. They readily rise to challenges and, in doing so, raise executive awareness of the value that User Experience can provide. They make a difference to their organization’s fortunes.

A mentor of Jim’s used to tell him, “Nobody ever got promoted for just doing their job. People who take risks and rise to challenges get noticed and rewarded.” To be successful as a UX leader, you need to seek out challenges that you can meet and take unique approaches to solving real problems. Demonstrate that design and design thinking can drive 10X to 100X revenues and profits. That will get you and your team noticed. Drive transformation within your team and across your organization.

Leaders of UX teams and other creative endeavors must embrace and foster rapid learning from failure. That’s the essence of iterative design. Look at early design solutions as experiments that let designers test their assumptions. If designers are on the right path, they’ll refine and improve their design through successive iterations. If not, they should quickly pivot and try a new approach, testing new assumptions.

The lessons that arise from failure can be invaluable. Most creative failures are transitory, and new, better ideas quickly supplant those that fail. So external judgment really has no role to play in this process. The only time teams truly fail is when they stick with a bad idea—either because they lack understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve or because they’re forced to cut short the creative process. Make sure that the schedules for your designers’ projects aren’t too constrained to allow this necessary exploration of ideas—or at least find ways for them to explore new concepts between deadline-driven projects.

Model the Way

Great UX leaders recognize that, to gain the respect of their team, they must demonstrate their competence and establish their credibility by modeling the behaviors that they’re asking their team to adopt. Leading by example requires that you first be clear on your own values and the leadership principles that guide your actions, then practice what you preach.

For example, in one of his leadership roles, Jim took over an existing team of eleven designers. In a very short time, he realized that nobody on his new team had the level of skill that he needed to achieve the transformation he wanted. So he helped each person on his team to find a new role and was left without a team. As he was hiring new designers, he recognized that he needed to define a new, compelling vision that would excite his new team and deliver value in the short term. So Jim conducted field research, then used the insights that it engendered to create a completely new interaction model and UX architecture for the product for which he was responsible. It highlighted users’ conceptual models and showed how the architecture supported them. It also demonstrated how the model scaled across Web and mobile applications. Jim also crafted vignettes, highlighting his ultimate vision. In the end, the high-quality artifacts that he created and his inspiring vision helped him to attract a team of UX experts who envisioned and delivered truly transformative designs that helped him to open up a $200-million sales pipeline. In doing this, he inspired his team and tied purpose to profits in a way that his executives could understand.

Build Trust

The best UX leaders are trustworthy and demonstrate trust in their teams. Your trust in your team provides the foundation for your being trusted by your team in return. Trust must go both ways for your team to succeed.

To gain the trust of your team, you must exhibit more than vision. You must be candid and openly share information with your team. As James Kouzes and Barry Posner say in their book The Leadership Challenge, “It is consistency between words and actions that builds credibility.” Thus, to be an effective leader, you must align your actions with your values. You must deliver on what you say you will do. If you say that you will stand up for an issue publicly, you must do so—or admit to your team that, based on new learning, you’ve discovered that you were wrong in supporting it. Gaining trust also means that you praise people publicly, but present teachable moments privately. Never betray a team member’s trust by saying in public what you should say only in private.

Recognize and Reward Informal Leaders on Your Team

To succeed, UX leaders must have the emotional support and commitment of others—from executives to peers to their team members. As a UX leader, you should foster a culture that values creative ideation and cross-functional collaboration, but you cannot always be present to reinforce these values. So you need informal leaders on your team to reinforce and reaffirm your core cultural values.

In Part 1 of this series, we mentioned that a UX leader should not usually be the most important person in the room. Once you’ve established a compelling vision that delivers a sense of purpose and pride to your team, fulfilling that purpose must take precedence over the role of the leader or any individual person. Your vision takes on a life of its own.

To use a sports analogy, winning a championship is much more important than any individual coach or player on a team. Of course, players want to be part of a winning team with coaches and other players who can help them to win, but their real goal is winning the championship. In sports, this sense of purpose drives a team’s emotional engagement, just as it does in User Experience. If any person on the team—whether the leader or an individual contributor—takes up too much of the emotional bandwidth of the team, the team loses focus.

When members of your team visibly demonstrate their commitment to your vision, which gives them purpose, or to your team’s core values, you must encourage and reward them. Tell stories that give recognition to people who support those core values. You must nurture the first few followers who emerge as informal leaders on your team by promoting its core values. They’ll engender greater belief and emotional investment in those values than you can alone.

Without a guiding coalition driving it, no vision ever gets realized. As a leader, it is critical that you inspire others on your team to lead. The existence of such informal leaders demonstrates that your vision has merit and worth and encourages others to invest in it with equal enthusiasm.

Enable Your Team to Do Their Best Work

Great UX leaders always ensure that their team has the resources that they need to be successful in their jobs. This encompasses everything from ensuring proper levels of staffing and sufficient time to do a job well to providing mentoring or transparency in sharing information that enables your team to understand the broader context of their work.

Great UX leaders also motivate their team to do their best work. Daniel Pink, in the book Drive: The Truth About What Really Motivates Us, points out that three factors motivate people: purpose, mastery, and autonomy. We’ve already touched on purpose. Now let’s look at mastery. The best team members want to be masters of their field. They are intrinsically motivated to be the best that they can possibly be.

To be a great UX leader, you must define a clear purpose that motivates the UX professionals on your team. You must guide your team in defining their path to success. You must provide opportunities for people to do work that will let them learn new skills and hone their existing skills, so they can become the best in their field.

UX design is fundamentally a creative, problem-solving process. To enable your team to produce outstanding user experiences, you must create environments and build teams that help creative people to consistently deliver excellence. As a leader, must be aware of and remove any obstacles that would obstruct your team’s creativity. As we’ll discuss in greater detail in subsequent columns, great UX leaders must

  • Create a culture that
    • encourages cross-functional collaboration
    • rewards teamwork and joint decision making
    • values and is receptive to candid and open dialogue
    • embraces failure and the valuable lessons that result from it
    • ensures that the aims of critiques are to improve results, not to prevent risks or failure
  • Create an organizational structure and engagement models that ensure the UX team can collaborate effectively, perform at its best, and have the greatest impact possible.
  • Foster cultural change and re-envision product development processes to ensure that the organization
    • assembles small teams of highly entrepreneurial experts in the core disciplines—Product Management, User Experience, and Engineering—who can execute rapidly in a lean fashion
    • first defines experience outcomes, then considers features and technology
    • takes a holistic view of the total customer journey rather than focusing just on tactical user-interface designs
    • rapidly gathers user insights throughout all stages of the product development process

Reward Good Behaviors

Great UX leaders always want to improve—and to work with people who want to continuously improve in everything that they do. To encourage growth in your team members, you must reward risk taking. When a member of your team takes a risk to further your goals, you must praise that behavior publicly, so it becomes part of your team’s collective folklore. But here is the most important part: Even if that person did not succeed by taking that reasonable risk, you must still praise the risk taking. This is the only way to get people to understand that they can take risks to become better at what they do.

If a team member exhibits courage and insight, praise it. If a team executes a project well, praise it. If the team has emotionally bought into your vision and you praise a team member for taking a chance to achieve that vision, it sets an example for others to follow and reinforces your vision. Publicly reward your people’s successes. Doing so increases their sense of self-confidence and personal effectiveness and garners their support for you, as their leader. When you consistently help and praise them, you’ll gain their support.

While great UX leaders praise their team members publicly to build their confidence, they also provide constructive feedback to them in private to help them improve. As a UX leader, when you build relationships with your people that let them know that you want them to succeed and grow, they’ll honor your confidence and trust in them by giving you complete loyalty and contributing all that they can to the success of your team.

Provide Constructive Feedback to Your Team

Great UX leaders always offer constructive feedback to their team members. There are two types of constructive feedback that you should regularly provide to the people on your team: personal feedback and critiques on their projects. The ways in which you deliver both types of feedback can either build or destroy trust.

Providing Personal Feedback

Teachable moments arise nearly every day—certainly every week. As a leader, you must recognize them and share your wisdom with the people who need your help. Providing feedback in the right way builds trust. Team members who feel that you’ll stand behind them and have their back will find a way to succeed. You must first communicate what is important, then publicly reward the right behavior. Don’t wait for a one-on-one with a team member to provide positive feedback. Doing so would waste a valuable opportunity to reinforce shared values and encourage positive behaviors in other team members.

When providing personal feedback, you must keep four guidelines in mind to ensure that you deliver your feedback in a way that builds trust:

  1. Your feedback must have the express purpose of helping a team member to improve personally and professionally. Your goal must never be just to criticize. Berating people and telling them they’ve screwed up does not help them to improve and makes them feel fearful and defensive. Fear does not motivate people, but having a trusting relationship with a boss who is looking out for their best interests does.
  2. Always provide personal feedback in private, but praise publicly. It’s shocking for everyone present when bosses vent their disapproval in public. Bosses who do this either lack emotional control or have a need to flaunt their power. Both destroy trust. There is no good reason to criticize publicly. No boss can justify such behavior. People can’t absorb feedback when they’re embarrassed by someone’s making them look bad in public. Never humiliate people.
  3. The best leaders are great at asking insightful questions that gently help guide their people through the process of learning where they need to improve. We gain our deepest insights through introspection, so your feedback should make people think. Improvement requires understanding and internalizing the need for change. When you can help people to do all of this, they are more likely to embrace change.
  4. Show empathy and model the way forward by telling stories about similar mistakes you’ve made yourself—or that you’ve observed other unnamed individuals make—how you’ve dealt with such problems, and how handling them helped you to become a better person or a more effective professional. Doing this helps people to recognize that their mistakes are not unique to them and to embrace opportunities to aspire to better things.

Weak bosses may fear that the people on their team won’t be able to take feedback or may feel uncomfortable about potential conflicts. But leaders who want to build trusting relationships with their team members and help them to improve must take responsibility for providing constructive feedback.

Critiquing Creative Projects

The following guidelines for critiquing creative project work differ somewhat from those for providing personal feedback:

  • Critiques are team activities.
  • Everyone in the room should have an equal voice, but no one should have the authority to mandate specific decisions, including executives and the leader of the team.
  • Encourage everyone to provide candid feedback and to be open to ideas.
  • Never make criticism personal.
  • Be specific in your feedback.
  • Identify the strengths of the work.
  • Identify its problems and try to get to the root of each problem rather than focusing on coming up with solutions.
  • Discuss suggestions regarding possible solutions.
  • Build on one another’s ideas.
  • Make the person who is responsible for the work you’re critiquing—that is, the person actually leading the work on the project, who knows it best—responsible for synthesizing all of the feedback, then coming up with solutions to the identified problems.

Support Your Team Members’ Career Growth by Giving Them Opportunities to Take on Greater Responsibility

There is much more to UX leadership than just getting the job done. Great UX leaders develop their people while helping them to get their job done in an exceptional way. They demonstrate that they genuinely care about their people’s career growth.

When your team members know that you care about helping them to build their professional future—not just about your own success—their level of commitment to your team is much greater. Always make sure that you understand your people’s longer-term career goals. Forge a mutually beneficial, tacit agreement that you’ll help them to succeed as they work hard to make the organization successful. Such genuine acts of caring uplift people and encourage emotional commitment.

Earlier, we talked about how the best team members seek strong purpose and want to achieve mastery of their profession. They also want a level of autonomy that lets them stretch their wings and take on ever greater levels of responsibility. People want to feel that they’re in control of their own lives. This is especially true of UX professionals. While they may appreciate their leader’s providing a safety net of sorts, they want to take responsibility for solving problems themselves. They’ll strive to achieve the desired outcome and deliver the best results, but want to do so in their own way. Great UX leaders give their team members discretion over how they accomplish their goals.

Provide opportunities for your team members to demonstrate their capabilities on increasingly more significant projects. Great UX leaders understand that people grow through meeting challenges, so are successful in developing the next generation of masters or leaders.

The best leaders function as coaches. This means asking deeply insightful questions that help team members to think through the challenges that they might encounter and explore how they might solve them. Asking the right questions is more valuable than providing the right answers. Pose questions that encourage people to think through the complexities of any problem or situation. The best leaders clearly define objectives, then provoke thought that helps people to discover the solutions themselves. This enables their team members to stretch and grow.

Great UX leaders must foster purpose, enable mastery, and provide autonomy to get the best from their team members. UX professionals do their best work when they feel that they are truly responsible for outcomes. To foster that sense of responsibility, you must give people autonomy.

Great UX Leaders Produce Results

Great UX leaders get results and add tremendous value to the organizations for which they work. But getting results as a UX leader is not about exercising power or intimidating people to get them to do your bidding. Nor is it about holding people accountable or driving them to do more than it’s reasonable to expect. While the style of some UX leaders is more commanding than facilitative, we don’t believe that’s the right approach. Great UX professionals don’t respond well to attempts to intimidate them, so trying that approach won’t have the desired effect. Maybe some UX professionals might be willing to work under threats of intimidation for a time, but the most talented won’t stick around long. They know that they can always get another job.

Of course, as a UX leader, you must have power, but you should use that power to protect your team, support them in accomplishing great things, and give them the space in which to conduct their work in whatever way enables them to deliver the best results. You should listen to your people and empower them to do their best work. Inspiring your team with your vision, getting them excited about their work, and helping them to get better at what they do creates a successful, high-performing team. The best, most humane leaders get the best results. In fact, they can enable a good team to deliver world-class results.

Let’s look at a powerful example from sports: The San Francisco Giants baseball team won three world-series titles in a five-year period, with teams that nobody but the most die-hard fanatic would have felt had a chance to win the series. Yet, though the Giants ostensibly had less talent than their opponents, they won the series three times. It was as though they didn’t know that they weren’t supposed to win.

So how were they able to take what looked like a bunch of average players and misfits and make them into the best team in the world? They had a leader who knows how to bind a team of players into a single unit. Everyone believed in the team and cared so much about their teammates that nobody wanted to let anybody else down. Their leader enabled them to believe in and give everything they had to achieve an audacious goal. They did not have a single player with a hero mentality on their team. But how much did we see Bruce Bochy, the manager of the Giants, in 2014? Very little. He set the vision and the tone, then stepped in only when he needed to.

That is the sort of leadership to which UX leaders should aspire. We must recognize that leadership is a learned skill, just as research and design are. Sure, some leaders, researchers, or designers are better than others—some have more innate ability and skill. No one can be a great UX leader without training and experience. Becoming a great UX leader requires a concerted effort to improve yourself.

Conclusion

If you’re leading a UX team, we hope that you aspire to be a great UX leader, whose goal is to add great strategic value to your organization. After all, this column is about becoming a UX leader who exceeds expectations, not just meets them. Success in leadership is about much more than receiving a big paycheck or advancing your own career. Ask yourself, What would I want to be remembered for? Hopefully, you’ll answer that you want to transform your company and change the world. 

Some Great Leadership Books

The following books have inspired us in our quest to develop our leadership skills:

  • Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
  • Good to Great, by Jim Collins
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni
  • The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
  • Winning, by Jack Welch

Chief User Experience Strategist at Experience Outcomes

Los Altos, California, USA

Jim NietersA design leader for 17 years, Jim loves every minute of helping companies create competitive advantage by designing experiences that differentiate. He has worked with a range of companies—from startups to Fortune-500 companies—most recently as Senior VP of Customer Engagement at Monaker Group. He previously led User Experience at HP, Yahoo, and Cisco and has advised numerous startups. Jim chooses to work with brilliant clients, helping them unlock their unbounded potential by envisioning and designing end-to-end experiences that disrupt markets and engaging users emotionally. He often works with UX leaders to help them work through organizational challenges and ensure User Experience has the visibility it deserves and can design experiences that make the team proud. Jim also conducts design-value assessments for his clients, identifying gaps in their ability to differentiate on the experience, then helping them close those gaps and become extraordinary.  Read More

Publisher & Editor in Chief at UXmatters

Founder and Principal Consultant at Strategic UX

Founder, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of UXmatters

Silicon Valley, California, USA

Pabini Gabriel-PetitWith more than 20 years working in User Experience at companies such as Google, Cisco, WebEx, Apple, and many startups, Pabini now provides UX strategy and design consulting services through her Silicon Valley company, Strategic UX. Her past UX leadership roles include Head of UX for Sales & Marketing IT at Intel, Senior Director of UX and Design at Apttus, Principal UX Architect at BMC Software, VP of User Experience at scanR, and Manager of User Experience at WebEx. Pabini has led UX strategy, design, and user research for Web, mobile, and desktop applications for consumers, small businesses, and enterprises, in diverse product domains. Working collaboratively with business executives, multidisciplinary product teams, and UX teams, she has envisioned and realized holistic UX design solutions for innovative, award-winning products that delighted users, achieved success in the marketplace, and delivered business value. As a UX leader, she has facilitated conceptual modeling and ideation sessions; written user stories; prioritized product and usability requirements; established corporate design frameworks, standards, and guidelines; and integrated lean UX activities into agile development processes. Pabini is a strategic thinker, and the diversity of her experience enables her to synthesize innovative solutions for challenging strategy and design problems. She is passionate about creating great user experiences that meet users’ needs and get business results. A thought leader in the UX community, Pabini was a Founding Director of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA).  Read More

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