User Experience Management: Essential Skills for Leading Effective UX Teams

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Overview

UX managers lead productive teams, influence businesses to adopt user-centered design, and deliver valuable products to customers. Well, that’s what you’re supposed to do. More often than not, UX practitioners, after having proven themselves effective and successful, are promoted to management positions. Yet, as important as the position of manager is to the advancement of the field, there are no books that specifically address your needs as a user experience manager.

Until now, there has been little in the way of formal training for current and future UX managers and team leaders. User Experience Management speaks directly to the current or aspiring UX manager and to the unique challenges you may face. It outlines a robust framework for how to be an effective UX manager: from creating and motivating a team, to orchestrating product development, to ensuring UX is not compromised, to achieving company buy-in on results—all so you can build your own successful user experience program. Written by Arnie Lund, an experienced UX manager, and containing insights from many leading managers, this provides for current and future managers an invaluable reference loaded with ideas and techniques for managing user experience.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Few have had the time or opportunity to get the kind of experience that Arnie Lund has had. Our very good fortune is that Arnie is the very essence of the reflective practitioner, and has the generosity of mind and spirit to turn his own career experience not into an autobiography or a "managing as I see it" book of tips. Instead, Dr. Lund takes a deep and wide look at the kinds of organizations and the different kinds of work that he has seen, from many vantage points, and uses that to engage a remarkable set of colleagues to reflect on, explain, and extend the practice of managing experience design. Arnie has been managing on the edge of the emerging fields involved here for as long as they’ve been emerging. The breadth of his experience and the discipline of his reflection on it makes for a remarkably comprehensive collection of issues.-Dr. Rick Robinson, Research Fellow, Design Continuum, Boston

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780123854964
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 5/12/2011
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 596,211
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Arnold (Arnie) Lund, PhD, CUXP is a Principal Director of User Experience at Microsoft. He began his career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in applied research, and helped build the science and technology organization at Ameritech. He managed design and exploratory development teams at US West Advanced Technologies, and served as a director at Sapient (where his focus areas ranged from information architecture to leading a global program in emerging technologies). Arnie has been elected to the ACM SIGCHI Academy; and co-chaired the CHI conferences in 1998 (Los Angeles) and 2008 (Florence, Italy). He is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), and served on the HFES Executive Council. He has long been engaged in human computer interaction (HCI) standards and in the area of accessibility and emerging technology, including chairing the HFES Institute and overseeing the HFES-200 standard and its approval as an ANSI standard. He is a certified user experience professional and served as president of the board of directors for the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE).
Arnie received his BA in chemistry from the University of Chicago, and his PhD in experimental psychology: human learning and memory from Northwestern University. He has published widely in R&D management and on research in natural user interfaces, and has a variety of patents. He has been on the advisory and editorial boards of various journals (e.g., Journal of Usability Studies and the International Journal of Speech Technology), and served on the board of directors for INFINITEC (focusing on infinite potential through assistive technologies). Arnie has taught user centered design at Northwestern University and elsewhere, and can be heard periodically teaching at the University of Washington.
You can reach out to Arnie over LinkedIn, and follow his experiences as a UX manager on Twitter @ArnieLund.
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Read an Excerpt

User Experience Management

Essential Skills for Leading Effective UX Teams
By Arnie Lund

Morgan Kaufmann

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-12-385497-1


Chapter One

Introduction

Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Stephen R. Covey

ONE MANAGER'S PERSONAL HISTORY

Imagine you are a freshly minted graduate student from one of Northwestern University's old cinder block buildings with the pale green paint on the walls, the smell of years of classes, and the beat-up furniture in the lab and the graduate student offices. In a blink of an eye, you are transported to a glass box building designed by Eero Saarinen, walking down a hall lined with private offices to talk with your new boss (see Figure 1.1). You have just been transferred to her team and you are about to have your first meeting. She has a big reputation, both in your field as well as among the human factors community at AT&T Bell Labs where you have just landed a job. As she sits behind the desk, it seems a lot larger than it probably is. You ease into the guest chair, anxious about this conversation and wanting to make a good impression. She turns to you and asks "So when do you want to sit in my chair?" What a question! It not only changes the way you have thought about your career, but the way you see yourself. Up until then you have been defining yourself as a researcher who only recently was planning to be a professor, and she is asking if you want to become corporate. One day you are happy as a member of the technical staff studying people, designing things, and solving problems, and the next day you are wondering what it would mean to lead a team and make big things happen.

This particular boss, Judy Olson, was my third boss in two years, and in many ways I was still finding my place within what was then considered the biggest company on Earth (Kleinfield, 1981). It was thrilling to be one of the "wizards" of Bell Labs (home of the transistor, the laser, fiber optics, the solar cell, speech synthesis, radio astronomy, and the Princess Phone) and speculating about the mark I would make at this company. Judy is now the Donald Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine, but at that point had recently arrived at Bell Labs from the University of Michigan.

Her question had more impact than she realized. Earlier in my life I had been a manager trainee, but had explicitly given that path up when I entered graduate school where I focused on teaching and research. The last thing on my mind was managing people. Judy's question opened another possible path and raised the questions: "Do I have the skills and the desire to manage? What would I want to accomplish if I was managing? Do others see something I don't yet see in myself? Do I want to do it?"

At that time within Bell Labs, many managers became managers not because they had management skills but because they had demonstrated great skill as individual contributors. Typically they had reached a level where if you wanted to make the next major jump in pay you needed to move into management. While there were efforts within the company to grow a few individuals based on their management talent, the experience of many employees was that often we were surrounded by management that were classic examples of the Peter Principle, because they had already risen to their level of incompetence. For me, management was not attractive because of the pay (after all, I was still fresh from reconciling myself to the expectation of an academic's salary and the long pursuit of tenure); it was about the opportunity to influence and in some way change the world.

As rumors started that a more senior colleague of mine was a candidate for taking Judy's place when she went back to academia, Judy's question regarding management and rethinking my own path led to the question: "Why not me?"

With a new found perspective, I have to admit I could not help feeling a little jealous (fed in part by comments from some of my peers). But I turned the jealousy into motivation. To help get an independent view, I began to build more formal mentoring relationships with managers I admired, and to think about and discuss questions that went beyond the immediate designs on which we were working. These questions became more strategic and were about defining the direction for the work. Many of those conversations happened over beer after racquetball with several of those mentors.

Moving into a lead role at Bell Labs was an opportunity to practice managerial skills. The joy was in the responsibility and the chance to think bigger. With the role the problems were more challenging. Because one person alone could not solve them, a team had to be created. My second manager gave me a piece of advice that I still follow. His recommendation was based on where he saw my strengths and where I was energized. He argued that I should get in the middle of apparently impossible problems, figure out how to make sense of them, come up with creative solutions, and drive them to closure. The most interesting problems often require being a lead or a manager in order to solve them. You need to assemble, grow, and leverage the talent that enables you to rise to the occasion. Furthermore, it is simply fun to work together to come up with and flesh out innovative ideas in the course of solving a problem.

When speaking to students as part of career panels, one of the top questions asked is some variation of whether to pursue an academic career versus a career in a corporation. Once students start their career in a corporation, their next question is usually whether they should try to become a manager. Recently at a retreat for the DUB group at the University of Washington (this group works in the area of human computer interaction), the question about becoming a manager came up again. In one of the breakouts, a graduate student asked what it means to be a manager of a user experience (UX) team in a large corporation, especially an engineering organization with all of the implied cultural tensions.

For many of us the joy of being a manager is not about power. It is not about money. It is not about the politics. I find it is about impact. It is about solving problems and accomplishing things that you cannot do by yourself. It is about having partners in achieving something important that you believe in. It is about working with great people who share a vision and passion for reaching the goal and helping enroll them in that vision and stimulating that passion. It is about playing in the creative world of design, as well as in the domain of emerging technology where everything seems possible. It is about being the person who reaches across roles and boundaries and makes the idea work.

Since starting my career, I have had many management roles. At Bell Labs, after moving from researcher to manager of a small human factors team, I was eventually asked to manage a broader set of responsibilities. At that time, to move up the management ladder you needed to demonstrate generic management skills and prove you could manage any discipline. The career path I was encouraged to pursue by more senior managers was managing a human factors department. To show I could do the job, I accepted an offer to manage the systems engineering and project management work for the 800 and 900 families of services at AT&T. This included project managing the human factors work from the team that I had previously been responsible for, which was directly managed by Mary Carol Day. As both a friend and a colleague from when we worked together on a project a few years before, I was looking forward to working with her and making even better things happen for this critical part of AT&T's business. The 800 and 900 families of services accounted for a major portion of AT&T revenue at the time, and they had just lost much of it to MCI. Unfortunately, after a few months in my new role (and despite having very talented engineers on my team) I discovered I was not exactly bounding out of bed looking forward to working on systems requirements and communications protocols. I was most excited creating and facilitating new feature ideas and visiting Mary Carol and hearing about what her team was doing with the user experience. This lack of excitement at work was one of the things that caused me to search for a challenge that was closer to my heart. My wife and I had a baby on the way, and I realized that I was not all that excited about raising a child in a town that raffled off Jaguars to raise funds for the local high school. It was time to re-center myself and my family.

The next opportunity came from Joel Engel at Ameritech (one of the Baby Bells emerging from Divestiture and covering the Midwest). He was charged with forming Ameritech's version of Bell Labs, since Bellcore — the research lab created to serve all the Baby Bells — was not able to meet Ameritech's unique needs. Joel, while an engineer, had managed a human factors department at one point in his career. He was an amazing man who held patents on some of the basic technologies that enabled the modern cellular network. He visualized a science and technology department with senior directors for each of the technologies that represented the future of the business. Because of his background, however, he also believed that user issues and needs were as critical to the future of the business as the technologies, so he was looking to hire a Senior Director of Human Factors. In Chapter 3, I will talk about the importance of champions. Joel was clearly one of those champions who created an environment that allowed our group to impact the transformation of a major corporation.

I accepted Joel's offer. This position allowed me to hire anyone I wanted, I had a virtually unlimited budget, and I could define the work plan for the organization. Since then, I have never been in another position with such an opportunity to demonstrate what user experience can deliver. Over time, we became so successful that when one of the senior directors who had engineers working on several of the emerging technologies most related to creating new user experiences (e.g., AI, speech processing, and image and video processing) left, his team was combined with mine. With the added engineers, we were in a position to research and uncover new applications, incubate them, and then deploy them — even as we continued to support a variety of new Ameritech products. When the general manager was moved into the emerging cable business, I served as acting general manager of the product development organization until a new permanent general manager was hired. This spoke volumes about the excellence of the UX team's work, the impact it was having on the business, and how the business came to see the skills of the team as being a core competency enabling the business to compete.

Good things have a way of ending, however, and as the direction of the company changed (later to be taken over by SBC), I moved to US West Advanced Technologies. I became a distinguished member of the technical staff — an individual contributor responsible for helping US West move into the e-commerce area. In Chapter 7 I will talk about the importance of keeping yourself fresh, and while it was exciting to manage the corporate move into the Internet and interactive television at Ameritech, I found I did not have the skills that my team members had who were working on the projects directly. I wanted to get hands-on experience with the Web so I could provide meaningful coaching and advice as a manager. Not long after, however, I was asked to take over management of one of the human factors groups, and shortly after that to become the acting senior director over the exploratory development team (including my former human factors team). When a new head for US West Advanced Technologies was found, I went back to managing the new media design and usability team.

Once Qwest acquired US West and the handwriting was on the wall for the eventual demise of Advanced Technologies, I left to become a Director of Information Architecture for Sapient. This was during the explosion of the Web and Sapient had a unique user experience culture, with a Chief Experience Officer (Rick Robinson) and a Chief Creative Officer (Clement Mok) advising the CEOs. It is one thing to have a champion for user experience, but when you have executive UX people whispering into the ear of the CEO, and driving their experiences and perspectives into the strategic conversations that happen at the most senior levels of the company, you are really in a position to change company culture.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from User Experience Management by Arnie Lund Copyright © 2011 by Elsevier Inc. . Excerpted by permission of Morgan Kaufmann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1- Introduction

Chapter2- Building the Team

Chapter 3- Creating Your Team

Chapter 4- Equipping Your Team

Chapter 5- Focusing the Team

Chapter 6- Creating A High-Performing Team

Chapter 7- Communication and Collaboration

Chapter 8- Transforming the Organization

Chapter 9- Evangelizing UX

Chapter 10- Conclusion

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