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Hold Fast: Managing Design Teams When Projects Go Sideways

B37df1d2124e3e8e2923b98e530f325a?s=47 Aaron Irizarry
October 28, 2016

Hold Fast: Managing Design Teams When Projects Go Sideways

Often times the projects we work on hit rough spots, snags, and even end up in crisis mode. Challenges can come in the form of clients who are tough to deal with, organizational politics, or strife within our own teams.
As managers (or leads) of design and product teams, we are often looked to for clarity, support, and resolution when things go sideways. How do we work through these scenarios as leaders, while managing the expectations of our teams and business partners, while keeping things moving forward despite the various challenges that we face?

In this talk, you will learn tips and techniques for managing through the ups and downs of the design process.

Managing stakeholders
Managing expectations of stakeholders, customers, support/sales/account teams, and even designers.
The value of building team consensus before things go into fire drill mode.

Managing our teams
The design manager’s role/deliverable in today’s design process (shipping is just the beginning).
Managing vs. leading and the implications on teams and the challenges we face.

Managing the process
Finding the sweet spot between sticking to process and remaining flexible.
The balance between execution and maintaining principles.
Foresight and avoiding blind spots.
Learning what went sideways and how to address it for next time.

B37df1d2124e3e8e2923b98e530f325a?s=128

Aaron Irizarry

October 28, 2016
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  1. Hold Fast Managing design teams when projects go sideways. Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  2. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq

    Product Design #RevolveConf
  3. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq

    Product Design #RevolveConf
  4. “Technology companies are expected to move at an incredible pace,

    and building software is complex” - Alex Schleifer - VP of Design at Airbnb Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  5. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  6. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Departmental

    make up. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  7. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Departmental

    make up. Internal politics. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  8. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Departmental

    make up. Internal politics. Team distribution. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  9. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Departmental

    make up. Internal politics. Team distribution. Understanding of design’s role. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  10. These companies are complex for
 a variety of reasons… Departmental

    make up. Internal politics. Team distribution. Understanding of design’s role. Limited budget and lofty goals. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  11. Once we start to understand these contexts better, we can

    start to get an idea of 
 what warning signs to look for before, 
 during, and after projects. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  12. Shipping is just the beginning.

  13. This sounds a lot like project management… Aaron “Ron” Irizarry-

    @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  14. This sounds a lot like project management… It is. Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  15. As design managers we should put 
 equal amount of

    effort into “contingency plans” for when things go sideways 
 as we do our designs and project plans. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  16. Almost every problem we run into 
 with projects can

    be traced back to communication issues with our cross functional teams about the projects 
 and processes that surround them. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  17. Managing The Process Managing Stakeholders Managing Our Teams Aaron “Ron”

    Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  18. Start by Striving for Transparency Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni |

    Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  19. Take responsibility for areas where you or your team may

    have missed the mark. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  20. Avoid un-necessary conflict with teams and team members, you can

    call things as you see them while still moving towards a positive resolution. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  21. Admit when you don’t have an answer. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry-

    @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  22. Managing Stakeholders
 & Business Partners Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni |

    Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  23. We need to build trust

  24. Focusing on other people instead of solution to the problem

    at hand, only leads to additional conflict and away from a problem’s resolution.
  25. Managing Our Teams Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of

    UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  26. Every experience, good or bad, our teams face will change

    them. No team comes out of any experience the same. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  27. This is ok Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of

    UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  28. Observation is such an important part of our design process,

    but it is often overlooked as an important part of how we manage and support our teams. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  29. It is not enough to just manage our teams during

    challenging project situations, if we want to be successful, and more importantly, help our teams be successful we need to lead. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  30. Managing The Process Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of

    UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  31. Having an agreed upon process in place will provide a

    starting point for trouble shooting what caused a project to go off the rails. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  32. Be prepared to ditch your process if needed. Aaron “Ron”

    Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  33. Remaining flexible is the key to weathering project storms. Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  34. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the

    face.” ~ Mike Tyson - Washed up boxer, eater of ears Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  35. “I planned to punch a guy in the face,
 and

    he bit my ear!” ~ Evander Holyfield - Former boxer, owner of Edible Ears, llc.
  36. Have a Plan B, even a Plan C, that 


    can help the team work through 
 the situation towards the needed solution. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  37. The needed solution might not be the the ideal solution.

    Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  38. There is what’s ideal and there
 is what’s real. Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  39. Some things to keep in mind Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni

    | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  40. Some things to keep in mind No two projects are

    alike. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  41. Some things to keep in mind No two projects are

    alike. Do everything you can to avoid blind spots. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  42. Some things to keep in mind No two projects are

    alike. Do everything you can to avoid blind spots. Use project kick offs, sprint planning, team retros to inform your strategy for projects moving forward. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  43. We can’t control everything that 
 comes our way. Aaron

    “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  44. Stay the course… We can’t control everything that 
 comes

    our way. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  45. Stay the course… Remain flexible… We can’t control everything that

    
 comes our way. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  46. Stay the course… Remain flexible… Remember that leading nets more

    results than just managing situations and people. We can’t control everything that 
 comes our way. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq Product Design #RevolveConf
  47. Aaron “Ron” Irizarry- @aaroni | Dir of UX - Nasdaq

    Product Design #RevolveConf
  48. Thank you. Discussing Design 
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