Summary of The guide to UX Leadership by Dave Malouf

September 5th, 2019

You have to understand before leading

  • Good book to read before embarking on this is first 90 days by Michael watkins
  • Must be genuinely interested and empathise with other people to succeed
  • Must understand companies business model and how design can improve it
  • You must ask the right questions.
    • Identify the 5 most influential people, schedule a 1 hour meeting with them
    • Then expand this to at least 10 others (Depending on size)
  • 5 questions to ask them
    • How did you get there? Why there?
    • What is the most valuable thing the org produces? How do we know we deliver that value to customers? What are the biggest obstacles that stop us from delivering it?
    • If you were new, what 5 things do you wish you knew about the company? Why? (Spot patterns in the way companies work and get things done)
    • What are the next opportunities for you and the org? (Is this person future oriented or not)
    • Who else should I speak with to understand how the org operates? (Look for outliers and special people. Special people are those that get mentioned every time. Outliers are the odd person who gets mentioned, like a designer or junior person that is slightly unexpected)
    • Document all the results into an affinity diagram. Roll out the post it notes!
    • Mind map as well as you can often visualise a lot of relationships between people, processes and systems

Define the outcomes

  • What are the desired outcomes
  • How will you know through your senses when you achieve them

Plan for influence

  • Reach out to your network and get their expertise on specific problems
  • Involve key stakeholders when doing usability testing or prototyping with users. Let them see the impact of the new vision
  • Feedback the most positive feedback to product teams and help iterate

Evangelize UX

  • Basically you can only spread UX as much as you can stretch your voice
    • In order to build your flock and have people help you spread the word you need to:
      • Provide clarify ("By helping our organisation understand what our customers value, the insights and Strategy team will increase customer satisfaction, reduce churn and increase sales”)
      • Provide a vision (What will things look like if we achieve our goal? How will things be better for customers?
  • You have to embed it across the entire team so that they spread the word and become part of the vision too
  • Adapt to the UX maturity of the company. If design and UX isn’t high up on the list of priorities, you’re going to need to factor that into your approach
  • You can assess this using the 8 stages of UX maturity here:
  • Spread the message through others
    • Empowering other team members to share and be passionate about their expertise
    • Shine the light of other people for great work that they have done

Leading people

  • It’s easy for anyone to point out problems. Those focusing on solutions get the most attention.
  • Use tools like the 5 whys to get to the root cause of an issue. Sometimes there isn’t an easy solution and you need to diagnose the issue
  • Own the marker - take control of the whiteboard and facilitate the discussion

How to build great teams

  • The no.1 thing when hiring is team/culture fit. You can always teach skills and build experience but you can’t teach a personality
  • Become a buffer for your team, defend them without them even knowing. Take the heat
  • Provide lots of 1:1’s, understand your team and how they want to improve. How does their current work help them achieve their short and long term career needs
  • Hold meetings with cross functional people
    • How can my team help with issues your team is experiencing?
    • What is your schedule?
    • What issues are keeping you awake at night?
  • Managers we remember most are the ones who helped us grow

Crafting UX Strategy

  • Stop looking for the hail mar. Need a strategy to provide a greater purpose, where all the pieces make up a whole
  • Need the following attributes for a strategy:
    • Purpose - Why in the first place
    • Peak.- Where are we going
    • Path - How will we get there. The how matters
    • Point - pause, analyse and measure
    • Plan - What do we need to get this done
  • Charting your path
    • Cheap, fast and quality might look like a good option BUT what does thet really mean
    • Reassing key team members from other projects
    • Building up ux/technical debt
    • Release on time but out of sync with sales/marketing/support
  • Alternative path might take longer and more expensive in the short-term but provides confidence, better quality
  • Analyse the path by seeing how much technical and ux debt we might be creating. What other projects would have to be deprioritized?
  • Create evaluation points along the way. OODA (oooh-dah) Observe, orient, decide, act)

By Jonathan Clift, a UX Desginer based in the UK.