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Design Leadership: Transforming UX in an Organization

Building a talented and respected team from humble beginnings to a strong force within the organization.

An opportunity for change: A UX Revolution

The organization was thirsty for strong design strategy, process, and leadership.

My Goals
  • Build a talented team, that was trusted by the organization
  • Educate on Design Thinking and value of great design for the business, technology, and our users
  • Deliver solid product design process and standards
  • Provide support and feedback to C-level executives on the business and human value of great user experiences (e.g. The ROI of Good UX)

A UX Revolution

Evaluate: From the 30,000-foot view to up close and personal, I took it all in
With no strategy, systems, or process, we could only get better! However, this was a time to listen. I sat with individuals to understand their passions and interests to determine together where they would land in my organization. For a more holistic view of the team, I worked with project leaders to gain a better understanding of individual strengths and resource needs for the upcoming year and beyond.

Execute: Acting after careful assessment and thoughtful planning
Within a year, I grew the team to 6 UX designers and 4 UI developers. UX research was not available as a separate disicpline, rather we cultivated that skill within the design team for those interested and with experience. I identified leaders witin the group and created career paths with meaningful goals. We continued to build trust in the organization through collaboration at all levels as well as evangelizing design thinking principles in every project.

Educate: Without consensus and understanding, there is no way forward
For the organization, I introduced design strategy and process to streamline discovery and developement integration. I continued to education the broader IT team on how we expect to collaborate to make great products, bringing them along for the ride from concept to delivery. Lastly, understandning business objectives is key to get any product off the ground. I worked with C-level executives on business objectives and educated how great UX affects the bottom line.

For the team, I created a design culture where we fostered open discussions about all aspects of design. We shared information, discussed trends, promoted design critiques, and other learning opportunities.

For the individual, I had regular 1:1 meetings where we discussed meaningful goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

Empower: Create a culture of ownership and trust and watch the business grow
Offering alternative viewpoints was seen as questioning authority and was not a normal practice. A culture shift was required to move forward. It took time, but empowering the team to ask tougher questions and challenge the norm was an exciting transformation. We accomplished this transformation by shadowing me during meetings and user research, education/training, leading more discovery efforts where I took on a secondary role, as well as having them practice in team meetings.

I trusted their design choices, instincts, and talent; they knew I had their back. In giving them ownership of the products they supported, they grew to be more user-focused and provided innovative solutions.

In Practice

We contintued to learn and grow through weekly team meetings, 1:1 meetings, mentoring, collaboration, and on-going training.

I continued to grow as a leader, as well, where I fine-tuned my leadership style and practice and firmly believe in being a servant leader, listening, building trust, and mentoring through shared experiences.

More Info

The ROI of Good UX
Motivating Gen Z

Mark       ︎       ︎