Friday, February 16, 2007

Leadership in User Experience

It's been on my mind for quite some time, and in fact, I've taken a position that best suit me and the company I work with:

"To be involved with user experience in a company that is in the middle of growth, you must serve everyone."

And for this, I don't mean to cater to everyone's beck and call. I mean to make an actual difference. To empower as well. What I did was to have actual leadership training, or more specifically, Servant Leadership training. It's funny because most people equate being a leader to be someone who "takes command" like in this article. Not so. I can tell you right off the bat, while you do need to have accountability on your plate, you don't have to take full command like that of a dictator. A dictator is not a leader.

In actuality, being a Servant Leader means to listen to people. Being a Servant Leader in the User Experience field means to listen to your users, your development team, your product managers - you get the idea. Not only listen, but also understand and compile the feedback and the data and whatever else research you do in order to come up with the best solution.

Indeed, it does take a lot of energy, time, patience and people-skills, but more importantly, also vision, fortitude, self-accountability, growth, and an ability to change at a moment's notice.

One could also say we are the mediators between the users and the developers. We make the graphical language simple to understand for the users, and our knowledge is enough to understand the complexities from the developers. This knowledge comes from experience and exposure - part of the Law of Gestation. It also comes from taking nothing for granted.

One also might say we're the software private investigators, asking a million questions just for the sake of knowledge and understanding in an unwavering belief in that when the truth is revealed, it will set the software application free. Free from any troubles, reducing support calls and training time, increasing profits so that our share also becomes larger, hopefully. (But I digress.)

So when someone asks you want you do, and you tell them you're in user experience development, what kind of vision are you painting?

If you don't have an answer, you might be in the wrong field.

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