Insights / In-house

Design leaders always have to be 3 steps ahead

Some of the things I know good leaders are doing, and I think especially for design leaders, you're getting ahead of the conversation a bit, you're having conversations and maybe strategic discussions with other folks in your organisation to make sure that they're aware of the teams doing amazing stuff. So when they put their heads up, like "here's the stuff we're doing", there's an awareness and there's an excitement around what they're doing.

I typically support my teams like, at the end of the day there might be five to ten ways to solution that particular experience, and maybe we don't have the right inputs, maybe we don't have all the right data, and we don't have time to run all the right research. Someone's got to make a call on this final design, and I'm going to advocate for my team's decisions. Am I going to make sure that it's a good one? Yeah, of course, but is it the right one of these three different models and no-one can decide on it? Well for me and my world, I always think about releasing as often as possible, and getting digital products out there to the world so you can test it.

Back to the team though, if you're agreeing with the team, get ahead of that and make sure that you provide that head cover and that visibility to why they did a specific thing. Especially from a communication standpoint, if they're not able to sell why they made a specific decision make sure you're there to support it. Don't let them get derailed, and I think that also lends itself to the trust that ends up happening in the team. That's not to say every single decision that team makes is perfect, but you can tell where you need to just call it a day, you don't want to get stuck in a swirl.

So, how do you stop a project in a place so that it can move ahead, so it can go to development? At the end of the day, you know you've got these phenomenal folks in your team and they're really talented, they're there because they are talented, that's not a question. None of this stuff is personal, if someone does something that doesn't get approval, or it goes out into the wild and it's not what people expect, it goes back to mostly communication or process problems.

Design leaders always have to be 3 steps ahead