"As a manager, you also need to constantly think about that - is this the right set up of the talents, or do we want to raise the quality - so that to raise the talent by either hiring more people, or training people. And it is my job to identify talents and identify superpowers. I call it superpowers because I believe that everyone has a talent as their superpower. Just like heros doing in the movies. Everyone is a hero, but everyone has their own superpower. We are not unicorns."
I know you are managing a big design team now, what do you think is the most important thing of managing a design team?
In the end, the team is usually organized and separated into scrum teams, product teams. So it is more like a metrics, you are chapter lead instead of UX lead. And one thing I strongly believe is that because designers are so close to the fianl results and experience, and also because design is a creative talent that you can have or not have, it is just like musician. I think it helps if you have talent of just thinking about things in another way, out of box, and I think it goes into like multiple levels. So for me, the most of important thing about design team is talent and make sure that right profile is in the right area of challenge. Interaction design should work on design, that like his/her super power. It is my job, as a manager, to make sure that this person is doing what is his most capable of doing in the place where it is mostly needed. So I think that in the end of the most important thing that building a team like this. But also looking at strategies and visions, brand, whatever. Such things that company want to do with the product. You also need to constantly think about is this the right set up of the talents, or do we want to raise the quality so also raise the talent by either hiring more people, or training people. And it is my job to identify talent and identify super powers. I call it super-powers because I believe that everyone has a talent as super powers. Just like heroes doing movies. Everyone is a hero, but everyone has their own super powers. We are not unicorns. In some areas, there are talent, in some area, there are not. Mostly are the things we like, and we also good at, it is my job to identify that and grow that within my people. And make sure that they do stuff that it’s… bringing out all the talents into a place that mostly needed. That is basically the most important things I guess.
So you mentioned hiring people, so what are the specific traits you are looking for? Is that personality, or is that specific skills?
It’s the skills of course. There is a basic skill set, I would say that you need as a designer. It’s also the level, like junior, senior. For a senior, for instance, I expect more… I look at attitude, proactivity, the willingness of taking the lead, or waiting for someone else of giving the lead. Regardless of, or, taking into account that skills there, on top of that, you have even that. Then I perceive you as a senior. Whereas as juniors, you are more looking at skills I guess. Where the skills need to be excellent, some people just stays medior the whole life. And what I even see is that you have a super senior principle, vision, visual designer, for instance, the best one in the world, who always sits at his desk and who never go out to convince other people there, or to be proactive or take the lead. So it is always, also, to connect with how the company see this role. So every company is looking for that. As the UX lead, you have the opportunity to have a saying of that. To say well, I need unicorns, so people who can do it all, or I need specific profiles. Or I need a mixture of junior and senior. And that is the fun puzzle you have to solve of course.
How to develop as a design manager’s role? Do you also help to coach other UX leads? And how to do that？
I talk sometimes with other people that has the same job with me. But of course, there are some coaching involved, but it is more like peers talking to each other, exchanging experience of how it goes in your side. Because of the context of the role is so important. If you are design lead in a big company is completely different if you are a design lead at a start up. It is more learning I guess, and just giving each other tips. I have a network which is nice sometimes that you learn form each other. And where people bump into and challenges they have. So that is the way I do it.