Another from the archive, this time about roles and leadership. My thoughts here haven’t changed much and it seems like other people today feel some of the same. We need Design Leadership equal to Product, Business, and Technology Leadership.

Here’s the original article:

Over the past few months, I’ve been working closely with my various Product Owners and Business Unit leaders trying to influence product strategy. There’s a whole group of stories about the day to day of an effort like this, but those are for another time.

What I want to focus on here is an overview of what I believe are some of the keys of innovation and getting amazing ideas out the door to happy Users. I’m loosely tying strategy, team, and innovation here. They’re all intertwined, so I think it works.

Different but equal

This is something I’ve had in my head for a while. Product Leadership needs a contemporary from UX. If you’re working in a product line and there is a Product Owner, there needs to be an equal to that from UX. They’re both going to have different takes on things, and they need to be on a level playing field to avoid instant trumps.

I think the best ideas will eventually spawn from the push and pull of brilliant people. So those brilliant people need to be at the same level.

Erik P. Hanson

I was talking to a co-worker recently about the UX / Product relationship. While I was in s spot of frustration and really wished Product would just listen to an idea, instead of instantly dismissing it he mentioned that the push and pull is probably healthy. After chewing on that for a while, I think I get where he was coming from, and I agree. We (Product and UX) sometimes have different ideas of “creating the best product for the user”, and that is absolutely fine. It’s even the way it should be. I think the best ideas will eventually spawn from the push and pull of brilliant people. So those brilliant people need to be at the same level.

Can’t always be equal, but we can always trust

So, fine. We all have different perspectives and expertise that drive those perspectives. Some of us are on the same rung of the ladder, some are not. What matters most is the trust within team involved. The whole team involved: Product, Engineering, Marketing, UX and others all need to trust each other. They need to trust that everyone is there for the same goal; they’re there to give our customers the best products possible to enrich their lives, make them more efficient, or just plain be entertained if that’s the products purpose in life. Take time with your teams and make sure that shared goal is in place. That leading vision is crucial.

With that vision, there must be trust everyone is on board with that vision. Since ideally you all crafted that vision together, this should be a given, but maybe you’re jumping in at the middle of a project and need to build trust. I think the best way foster that trust is by working daily with those that are responsible for the product being made. In order to truly be a team, we need to watch each other navigate the pitfalls of design and development, learn each others quirks, help each other up when we fail or stumble. This is one of my main reasons for agreeing with the cross-functional team dynamic.

That’s where innovation and the best products come from: Trust, communication, camaraderie, and the ability to know that even though the person sitting across from you works with a different of personal and professional set of perspective, you are all striving from the same thing


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