Podcast Episodes

15: Mailbag—Funding models; from output to impact; personal safety and security

In which Jesse and Peter answer questions on funding models, shifting from output to impact, demonstrating value, and the challenges of being a design leader right now.

Questions addressed:

(01:00) "How does a good business fund design activity?"

(09:28) "How can one handle being a good lead designer, when in the company where you work, the majority of product owners don't understand their role."

(12:43) "[How can] design influence their orgs to move from an artifact/output-based model of design to a practice/impact one?"

(16:40) "How [can] a design team better frame their unique value inside an organization that is crowded out by engineering voices and investment. How can I articulate the value that the design team creates as being as critical as sound software engineering?"

(26:34) "How can I help my team feel secure and supported when my own world is adrift on stormy seas," and "How to help my designers feel safe and secure in rocky times."

14: “If your team’s work isn’t good, you didn’t set clear expectations,” and other Design Leadership Truisms

In which Peter shares some of his Design Leadership Truisms (inspired by the work of Jenny Holzer), and Jesse reacts. Truisms discussed: (03:29) “People are not their job titles.” (04:50) "If your team's work isn't good, you didn't set clear expectations." (08:32) “Bad design is a result of context, not individual aptitude.” (09:14) “If you focus on the organization, quality will take care of itself.” (17:11) “You cannot calculate an ROI for design.” (20:01) “If you haven't pissed someone off, you are not doing your job right.” (24:19) “For someone who talks a lot about empathy. You show little for your colleagues.” (26:55) “Introversion inhibits design's ultimate impact.”

12: Ands Not Ors (ft. Maria Giudice)

In which we are joined by Maria Giudice, founder of Hot Studio, former design executive at Facebook and Autodesk, for a whirlwind discussion of her career, design leadership, and coaching.

Topics: Frank Frazetta; Working Girl; art school; white designer dudes; New York in the mid-80s; Richard Saul Wurman telling us we're all full of shit; designing guidebooks; command-and-control leadership style; San Francisco in the late 80s; becoming a design leader; hiring misfits; match between leader and the team; inheriting teams; the brutality of corporate America; learning from mistakes; change-making at scale; consulting vs in-house; the need for executive sponsorship; where we find joy in our lives; meaning and purpose in our work; leading and coaching in a fashion authentic to you; the value of coaching for senior leaders.

11: The Leadership Plateau and the Marketing Vortex

In which we address the how to grow as a design leader when the opportunities thin out, and then take a hard turn and address the culture of marketing and the problems it poses for designers.

Topics: Imbalance of leaders at different levels; don't determine what's interesting for someone else; the pace of career growth; designers who have found their way; discouraging people from desiring to be a leader because doing it right is fucking hard; dual-track leadership models; UX for marketing and product used to be the same; marketing design wants to work more like product design; brand beyond design; service design; marketing, as it's commonly practiced, is bullshit; #notallmarketers; product marketing; data-driven marketing; functions have distinct cultures that cross-functional teams don't address; Jesse's hair.

10: We Have Trust Issues

In which we grapple with the multifarious concept of trust, in light of how important it is for leaders to establish, build, and maintain it in their relationships.

Topics: Leadership coaching, psychological safety, resilience, conditions leading to trust, Michael Jordan's uncompassionate leadership tactics, critique, bestowed authority, Brené Brown, non-judgment, leaders speak last, "being right" behavior, earning trust, maintaining positivity and authenticity in the face of difficulties; integrity; whether organizations can earn trust; trust falls; Amy Edmondson; Google's Project Aristotle; accountability; trust as an emergent property; why all these models and theorists never mention trust; trust within a team; trust between teams; trust as an integument that enables cross-functional teams to collaborate; Drive by Daniel Pink; operationalizing trust is like eating soup with chopsticks or trying to capture a candle flame.

9: Consultancy Rat Blues, Part 2

In which we continue to grapple with in-house vs design consultancy distinctions, and see promise in the creation of senior strategic design roles within some companies.

Topics: working in teams; working like a consultancy; Metropolis; the lie of design schools; the reality of in-house design practice; cycles of abuse; working in truly high-performance design contexts; the stage model of cook apprenticeship; the capacity of design programs; rotation programs within and across companies; the emerging role of Principal Designer.

8: Consultancy Rat Blues, Part 1

In which an email from a design leader self-labelled "Consultancy Rat" spurs a wide-ranging discussion on strategic design leadership, product management, and the differences between in-house and consultancy design. Topics: consulting vs in-house design; FAANG+; the bifurcation of UX design; product design; design as a handmaiden to engineering; why not both?; product management and product strategy; product management as UX practice from 15 years ago; the craft of product management; making the shift from consultancy to in-house; strategic and principal in-house design roles.