(This is our last episode for a couple months. Talk to you in August!) In this episode, Jesse and Peter field questions from listeners, which lead to a range of discussions, including leading in immature organizations, the power of playing politics, overcoming imposter syndrome, and developing a self-reflective leadership practice.
In this episode, Jesse and Peter speak with their friend and former colleague Indi Young on the eve of the release of her forthcoming book, Time to Listen. The conversation ranges from our time together, to how she approaches her work, her focus on listening deeply to each other, and her passion for matters of equity and inclusion.
In this episode, Jesse and Peter talk to Tim Kieschnick, who established the UX practice at healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, and then went on to spearhead human-centered design in the organization, about his illuminating framework he calls The Leadership Ceiling, the importance of playing politics, how to start a movement, and what it was like to work for a single company for 30 years(!).
In which Peter and Jesse are joined by information architect and author Abby Covert, who shares her story of moving from independent consultant, to Etsy's staff information architect, to product manager, and then independent writer and teacher. She shares what she learned along the way about burnout and work-life balance, and gives us a peek at her forthcoming book on the power of diagrams as tools for thinking.
Learn more about Jesse's coaching practice at http://jessejamesgarrett.com/
Peter occasionally writes about design orgs and leadership at http://petermerholz.com/
In which Peter and Jesse chat with Gordon Ching about the emerging role of the Chief Design Officer, design executive effectiveness, the power of brand, the importance of taste, and other matters.
In which Peter and Jesse take stock of emerging themes from prior conversations, trying to make sense of the crucial challenges of design and design leadership. This will be the last episode for a while, probably until autumn. Please stay in touch!
In which Peter and Jesse chat with Jorge Arango about the state of digital design, his background in architecture, teaching the next generation of designers, the seduction of prototyping, the potential advantages and drawbacks of certification, and more.
In which Peter and Jesse speak with UX researcher, educator, and humanity advocate Vivianne Castillo about what it takes to be truly human-centered, the necessity of addressing trauma, what UX can learn from human services professionals, and practices and rituals you and your teams can adopt.
In which Peter and Jesse talk to Jen Cardello, head of UX Research at Fidelity Investments, about her team's uncommon organization structure (within an independent insights team, peered with Market Research, Analytics, and Behavioral Economics), and the tools they use to make sure they're focused on the right problem, with the right solution, done right.
In which Peter and Jesse talk to creativity consultant and author (and former front-end developer!) Denise Jacobs about just what is creativity, how to maintain being creative as a leader, banishing your inner critic, taking charge in how you get feedback, and how impostor syndrome is probably a means of keeping historically disadvantaged groups down.
In which Peter and Jesse talk to strategic design and research consultant Erika Hall of Mule Design, learn about how "the business model is the new grid," why most design is simply just styling, and the importance of asking questions.
In which Peter and Jesse speak with Billie Mandel, design leader, team coach, and UX educator, and we somehow get from team dynamics to leadership qualities of vulnerability to sociopathy to totalitarianism in surprisingly short order.
Product management consultant and educator Melissa Perri joins Peter and Jesse to talk about the view of design from the product management side of the table, the true value that product managers bring to the process, and how designers can collaborate more effectively with their peers in product management. (Apologies for the suboptimal audio, we found you get used to it pretty quickly, and the content was too rich to not share with you!) Learn more about Melissa at http://melissaperri.com/
In which Peter and Jesse talk to Sally Carson, Head of Product Design at Duo Security (now part of Cisco), about her journey, from bike messenger to multimedia designer to design lead. Along the way, we discuss executive relationships, handling burnout and managing your energy, and how her experience cycling prepared her for the ups and downs of leadership.
Jesse and Peter return from their hiatus and dig into a few emerging trends we've seen in product design teams, including (00:25) the rise of the senior individual contributor, (13:44) the increasingly tangled relationship between design, engineering, and product management, and (35:37) what it takes to lay the foundation for lasting change.
In which Jesse and Peter answer questions on funding models, shifting from output to impact, demonstrating value, and the challenges of being a design leader right now.
(01:00) "How does a good business fund design activity?"
(09:28) "How can one handle being a good lead designer, when in the company where you work, the majority of product owners don't understand their role."
(12:43) "[How can] design influence their orgs to move from an artifact/output-based model of design to a practice/impact one?"
(16:40) "How [can] a design team better frame their unique value inside an organization that is crowded out by engineering voices and investment. How can I articulate the value that the design team creates as being as critical as sound software engineering?"
(26:34) "How can I help my team feel secure and supported when my own world is adrift on stormy seas," and "How to help my designers feel safe and secure in rocky times."
In which Peter shares some of his Design Leadership Truisms (inspired by the work of Jenny Holzer), and Jesse reacts. Truisms discussed: (03:29) “People are not their job titles.” (04:50) "If your team's work isn't good, you didn't set clear expectations." (08:32) “Bad design is a result of context, not individual aptitude.” (09:14) “If you focus on the organization, quality will take care of itself.” (17:11) “You cannot calculate an ROI for design.” (20:01) “If you haven't pissed someone off, you are not doing your job right.” (24:19) “For someone who talks a lot about empathy. You show little for your colleagues.” (26:55) “Introversion inhibits design's ultimate impact.”
In which Jesse and Peter discuss their relationship to systemic racism, as individuals, as leaders, and as members of the design and UX communities.
In which we address the how to grow as a design leader when the opportunities thin out, and then take a hard turn and address the culture of marketing and the problems it poses for designers.
Topics: Imbalance of leaders at different levels; don't determine what's interesting for someone else; the pace of career growth; designers who have found their way; discouraging people from desiring to be a leader because doing it right is fucking hard; dual-track leadership models; UX for marketing and product used to be the same; marketing design wants to work more like product design; brand beyond design; service design; marketing, as it's commonly practiced, is bullshit; #notallmarketers; product marketing; data-driven marketing; functions have distinct cultures that cross-functional teams don't address; Jesse's hair.
In which we grapple with the multifarious concept of trust, in light of how important it is for leaders to establish, build, and maintain it in their relationships.
Topics: Leadership coaching, psychological safety, resilience, conditions leading to trust, Michael Jordan's uncompassionate leadership tactics, critique, bestowed authority, Brené Brown, non-judgment, leaders speak last, "being right" behavior, earning trust, maintaining positivity and authenticity in the face of difficulties; integrity; whether organizations can earn trust; trust falls; Amy Edmondson; Google's Project Aristotle; accountability; trust as an emergent property; why all these models and theorists never mention trust; trust within a team; trust between teams; trust as an integument that enables cross-functional teams to collaborate; Drive by Daniel Pink; operationalizing trust is like eating soup with chopsticks or trying to capture a candle flame.
In which we continue to grapple with in-house vs design consultancy distinctions, and see promise in the creation of senior strategic design roles within some companies.
Topics: working in teams; working like a consultancy; Metropolis; the lie of design schools; the reality of in-house design practice; cycles of abuse; working in truly high-performance design contexts; the stage model of cook apprenticeship; the capacity of design programs; rotation programs within and across companies; the emerging role of Principal Designer.
In which an email from a design leader self-labelled "Consultancy Rat" spurs a wide-ranging discussion on strategic design leadership, product management, and the differences between in-house and consultancy design. Topics: consulting vs in-house design; FAANG+; the bifurcation of UX design; product design; design as a handmaiden to engineering; why not both?; product management and product strategy; product management as UX practice from 15 years ago; the craft of product management; making the shift from consultancy to in-house; strategic and principal in-house design roles.
In which we break down the components of a team charter, and the ways it helps design leaders, particularly with people matters of recruiting, hiring, and retention.
In which we learn more of Peter's recent adventures in design leadership, and we reflect on 20 years of Jesse's Elements of User Experience.
In which we learn a little of Peter and Jesse, their past history together, and their more recent history apart.