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 are joined by Maria Giudice, founder of Hot Studio, former design executive at Facebook and Autodesk, for a whirlwind discussion of her career, design leadership, and coaching.
Topics: Frank Frazetta; Working Girl; art school; white designer dudes; New York in the mid-80s; Richard Saul Wurman telling us we're all full of shit; designing guidebooks; command-and-control leadership style; San Francisco in the late 80s; becoming a design leader; hiring misfits; match between leader and the team; inheriting teams; the brutality of corporate America; learning from mistakes; change-making at scale; consulting vs in-house; the need for executive sponsorship; where we find joy in our lives; meaning and purpose in our work; leading and coaching in a fashion authentic to you; the value of coaching for senior leaders.
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 discuss the challenges of relationship management when leading from home, and then start a potentially promising discussion on the subject of trust.
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 look at the purpose behind defining purpose, and discover some unexpectedly useful new frames along the way.
In which reflections on the coronavirus pandemic spark a freeform conversation ranging from Trump to Jobs on management, leadership, power, uncertainty, and more.
In which a discussion of David Epstein's book Range leads to a consideration of craft, practice, and the medium of leadership.
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.