Podcast Episodes

38: The Craft-led Design Executive (ft. Tim Allen)

n this episode, Peter and Jesse speak with Tim Allen, Global Head of Design and Research for Instacart, about his craft-forward approach to design leadership, how psychological safety enables innovation, partnering with strong operations leaders, and how growing up Black in Japan proved formative in his lifelong advocacy for inclusion in design.

35—The Actualized Design Executive (ft. Daniela Jorge)

In this episode, Peter and Jesse speak with Daniela Jorge, Chief Design Officer at PayPal, about vision, delivering on an end-to-end customer experience, growing and developing the next generation of leaders, taking advantage of design skills such as facilitation, and what she's learned from working in more traditional companies.

33: Leading Design in a Product World (ft. Greg Petroff)

In this episode, Jesse and Peter are joined by Greg Petroff, Chief Design Officer at Cisco Secure, and former design executive at GE, ServiceNow, and Compass, who shares with us his experiences in elevating Design's voice in the product development process, the importance of partnership, relationship, and communication, and why he's hopeful for Design continued influence and impact.

29: Listening with Intent (ft. Indi Young)

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.

28: The Leadership Ceiling (ft. Tim Kieschnick)

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(!).

27: Choose Yourself—Making up your career path as you go (ft. Abby Covert)

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.

Find more about Abby at http://abbycovert.com, and read "I Choose Me," the post that inspired this episode.

Learn more about Jesse's coaching practice at http://jessejamesgarrett.com/

Peter occasionally writes about design orgs and leadership at http://petermerholz.com/

22: “Right problem, right solution, done right”—The Vanguard of User Research (ft. Jen Cardello)

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.

21—Creativity, banishing inner critics, impostor syndrome, and systemic racism (ft Denise Jacobs)

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.

18: How Agile and Scrum ruined product management, and other things (ft. Melissa Perri)

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/

15: Mailbag—Funding models; from output to impact; personal safety and security

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.

Questions addressed:

(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."

14: “If your team’s work isn’t good, you didn’t set clear expectations,” and other Design Leadership Truisms

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.”

12: Ands Not Ors (ft. Maria Giudice)

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.

11: The Leadership Plateau and the Marketing Vortex

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.

10: We Have Trust Issues

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.

9: Consultancy Rat Blues, Part 2

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.

8: Consultancy Rat Blues, Part 1

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.