UX Leadership UX Scotland, 2015
James Chudley Hi, thanks for dropping by. I’d like to talk about why leadership is critical to great design and share some soft skills you’ll need to lead successful teams.
@chudders Hello! Hello! I’m a
User Experience Director at cxpartners. I run large scale user centred design projects for clients all over the world.
@chudders My plan for the
next 45 minutes 1 Why does great design need great leadership? 2 (Soft) leadership skills to pay the bills …..expect practical advice & please ask me stuff as we go! This is what I plan to cover in my talk. Note the soft skills bit, my goal is to give you a bunch of useful stuff you can use immediately in your day job.
A story of theft as
I transition from a ‘designer’ to ‘leader’ @chudders Research assistant IA Intranet manager UX consultant Head of UX Principle consultant Author UX Director Head of product 20151998 This presentation pulls together lots of things I’ve learnt from working for great leaders along the years and have then found successful myself.
@chudders My lens - leading
UCD projects within a UX consultancy I work ‘consultancy side’ so that probably biases how I see the world, but the principles here are universal wherever you work.
This is for everyone, not
just ‘managers’ or ‘leaders’ @chudders The managers job is to plan, organise and co-ordinate. The leaders job is to inspire & motivate http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-is-the-difference- between-management-and-leadership/ Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business. Not many people have ‘leader’ in their job title but many of us (however senior or not) find ourselves in situations where we need to lead others during projects.
Design projects are chaotic @chudders
‘Squiggle’ by Damien Newman Central Office of Design This brilliantly represents the chaotic and unpredictable nature of design projects. Strong leadership is crucial to guide people through that crazy early phase and beyond.
Outcome is unknowable, journey is
unknown @chudders It makes sense that a journey with an unknowable destination will require a strong leader .. Me A metaphor of a journey is useful when considering projects. Every journey requires a leader to guide your way.
@chudders Anyone worked on a
project that went wrong? Design/ technology projects go wrong (a lot) so you need strong leaders to get you out of the woods.
@chudders Loads of stakeholders (who
don’t agree) Also design projects typically involve lots of stakeholders who want to be heard and influence the outcome. Without leaders these projects can end up trying to deliver to everyone and pleasing no one.
Products must ship despite design
being… @chudders Politics Hard Constraints Never finished Compromise Opinion All of these things represent the reality of design projects. Acknowledging these is really helpful as it helps to reduce stress and keep the project moving.
You get ‘seagulled’ by ‘HiPPOS’
@chudders https://www.reddit.com/r/NewCerulean/comments/27qwl3/subject_initial_field_observations_of_flying/ No-one likes being seagulled, let alone by a HiPPO! (just imagine the mess)
This stuff is easy, you
don’t need an MBA… These ‘management’ books are a bit depressing compared to those nice design books you used to read! You don’t need an MBA to do this stuff, I promise you can do most of it today.
Why should people follow you?
@chudders Write down 5 qualities of leaders you admire Copy them 1 2 Consider that if you are a ‘leader’ why should someone want to follow you? Think about the qualities of people you admire and copy them.
@chudders Be positive and enthusiastic
Anyone can just decide to be positive if they want to. It makes such a massive difference on projects. I would sooner hire on attitude over experience any day.
@chudders Don’t (ever) take the
credit & admit you failures I’ve seen managers pop up at the end of projects and steal the glory (think John Terry). Don’t ever do it, make sure your team get the glory. Also admit when you get stuff wrong, it can be very liberating.
Make a plan and share
your vision @chudders A B Pre mortem Roles & responsibilities *Write brief & share vision with team Identify measures of success *Regular communication Critique & feedback Mid project wash ups Internal / external showcase Critique & feedback Wash ups *Share stories Measure outputs Here are some practical things that managers and leaders should do during design projects. Critically you need to define and share your vision for a project and remind people of it along the way.
Accept classic project dynamics @chudders
‘Storming’ Effectiveness Project duration ‘Performing’‘Norming’‘Forming’ *from ‘Tuckman's model of group development’ Teams take a while to bed in and start performing. This is completely normal. Models like this are useful because they let you know what to expect and help to explain things aren’t working as well as you imagine.
Clarify roles and responsibilities @chudders
Responsible Accountable Consulted Informed Design the project Manage scope Negotiate deal Responsible for quality Run kick off Own deliverables Present design solution Director PMUXDirector Director Director PM UX Director UX Director PM Director Director UX PM PM PM Director UX UX UX PM Director UX UX Director PM Design projects can have lots of roles that overlap and people have different skill sets. At the beginning of projects map out who’s expected to do what get agreement within the team.
Make decisions @chudders Leisa is
spot on. As a leader you need to take decisions. You’ll get some right and some wrong but you must be assertive and make a call to maintain people’s confidence in you. Remind people that design is never finished so whatever you choose to do you’ll learn and move on!
Discover people’s passions @chudders Take
the time to find out what your team love doing (hobbies, techniques etc.) then try and find them opportunities to bring their passions into their work. You will find yourself with a very motivated team as a result.
Say thank you & reward
great work @chudders It sounds like such a cliche but amazing what a difference it makes when someone genuinely thanks you for doing something. People don't do this because they think the fact they are being paid to do stuff makes this unnecessary. Wrong!
Credibility @chudders You don’t have
to have been a UX’er to be a great UX leader but it certainly helps for people to be able to trust your judgement. Either way you’ll need people to respect you to be successful, and being credible is an essential aspect of building trust. Fundamentally you’ll struggle as a leader if you people don’t trust you!
Be accountable & protect your
team @chudders I’ve worked out what you do, you’re basically a shit shield.. A. Colleague, UX Consultant Sounds rubbish doesn’t it but it’s an important part of the job. You have to do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it as well as protect your team from flying objects.
Keep your distance, let it
go & delegate @chudders This can be really difficult if you used to be a practitioner. You have to keep out of the detail so that you can work across multiple projects and keep a high level view. You can still give people space to develop and grow while keeping them under your wing.
@chudders Solve problems and make
things happen! As a leader it’s often down to you to just make things happen. You have to share your vision for something and bring it to life, solving all the problems along the way. Designers are great problem solvers so I guess it makes sense that they can also be great leaders!
@chudders Don’t stop talking From
regular & scheduled methods such as daily stand-ups to more ad- hoc catch ups around the kettle it’s critical you keep talking to your team. It’s amazing what you learn from unplanned conversations that prove critical to the success of your projects.
Lead by example @chudders 1.
Work hard 2. Share what I know 3. Make stuff better 4. Keep it fresh 5. Make it fun Like design principles but for you… Here’s an idea for you. Why not create career principles for yourself. Think design principles but for you. Remind yourself of them often and try and live by them. This helps to remind you of what’s important to you and helps you to not compromise your principles on projects.
Be brave and ask for
feedback ‘You dealt with that situation brilliantly..’ People don’t do this because they are worried about getting bad feedback and culturally it can be just a bit awkward. Give it a try, perhaps at the end of a project and use it as a way to continually grow in your role.
@chudders Share your stories Sharing
stories is a great way to remind yourself of the things that have worked well on your projects. People will reciprocate with their own stories which gives you insights into other things to try. We’re hard wired to respond to stories so use them to your advantage.
Be honest with people @chudders
People respect you for being honest no matter what the outcome is. I’ve found that it just makes life so much easier, particularly when you are juggling loads of projects.
People are different @chudders Cultural
differences https://hbr.org/2014/09/predict-cultural-conflicts-on-your-team I’ve been leading teams that have been spread all over Europe for the last few years and this stuff is handy. Cultural differences (in management literature) can feel a bit stereotyped but it’s better to be aware of them than to be taken by surprise.
This is a good book
- from the 1930’s! @chudders ‘How to win friends and influence people’ 1. Smile! 2. Always remember names and peoples interests & issues 3. Be enthusiastic and keep your problems to yourself 4.Be genuinely interested in people 5. Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves 6.Don’t criticise, condemn or complain 7. Be a good conversationalist 8.Give honest and sincere appreciation 9.Put yourselves in the shoes of other people I was recommended this book and I must admit was sceptical about what it could offer me 85 years after being published. I was wrong. It’s a little gem packed full of simple and practical advice about dealing with people. Buy it!
Make it fun, fun shouldn’t
be a reward @chudders In every job that must be done There is an element of fun you find the fun and snap The job’s a game Mary Poppins from ‘A spoonful of sugar’ Please, oh please make it fun. The fun bit shouldn’t be at the end of the project, make it during the project too! You can still do super serious, ground breaking work and have a laugh along the way. The people I’ve admired the most during my career have been the ones who can do this, what a skill!
So if you just remember
three things @chudders Set and share your vision Lead by example Look after people 1 2 3 So I appreciate there is a lot to remember in here but if you just remember three things then these would be a good place to start.
Thanks! @chudders Thanks so much
for taking the time to read this. I really hope you’ve found it useful and please drop me a line if you have questions, comments or if you want me to present to your organisation.