Over on the UX Leadership Journal, Will Evans recently shared a really nice model for career growth in the UX field. [UPDATE: Will’s model builds on one originally developed by David Sherwin and Justin Maguire of frog design.] It looks sort of like this. (I added a few details.)
(Slightly larger version here. [Note that model has been updated to include attribution to David Sherwin and Justin Maguire.)
Increasingly, our clients are asking us for tips on how to setup a UX practice in an organization. Historically, the UX field has treated this as an education problem, but it’s also a staffing challenge.
Making sure that you have someone on staff who can do tactical UX will only get you so far if you don’t also have people on staff who cover the other layers. They don’t necessarily have to be dedicated roles, but there should certainly be somebody advocating for UX at each level of leadership in Will’s model.
Will is putting a fine point (irresistible triangle pun) on the difference between being good at your craft, and being a leader. They’re not the same thing. In fact, they can be distinctly incompatible. Effective individual contributors are self-motivated, autonomous, and perfectionist in their attention to detail. Effective leaders are team-oriented, big picture in their thinking, and focused above all on communication. (I know that I’ve retreated too far into the comfy dark cave of the individual contributor when I feel irked because someone interrupts me to talk about what I’m working on. The leader in me knows that that’s an opportunity to spread awareness and empower others.)
Anyway, it’s fascinating stuff, and a bit of a kick in the ass for me personally. Thanks, Will. See Will’s whole presentation on design leadership here.