I started a new job as director of user experience design as a large high-tech firm last October, and I’ve decided to blog about my experiences going from being an individual contributor for about 14 years, to a director of user experience design (UXD).
I read several of the “First 90 days” books, like this one “Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job: Powerful First Steps on the Path to Greatness” and “The New Leader’s Action Plan” and got both excited and intimidated. In the end, if was Peter Drucker who probably gave me the most practical advice in his “Effective Executive” book ( advice about what NEEDS to be done, and about what is right for the enterprise. (Much of the writing and the examples are dated, but the basic advice is still sound. )
Having read the first few books before I started the new job, I had made plans about how I wanted the team to leverage social media more, build a database of usability participants, things like that. Those things still need to be done, but thanks to Drucker’s advice, I realized that I need to table those plans for a bit while the team works on our user experience guidelines. Sure, we can do more than one thing at a time, but I think I came dangerously close to overloading my team with stuff that I wanted to accomplish rather than helping them the things that NEEDED to be done.
I”m still very excited about the job, and I’m willing to work nights and weekends because I’m having fun learning new things, and of course, I want to make a good impression. I just need to remember that I shouldn’t expect that of the team, too.
My boss and my team tell me I’m off to a pretty good start. I’m looking for other directors of UXD at other companies to mentor me (If you ARE one, feel free to volunteer!). I also want to thank all the people who have already helped me a great deal – particularly Tom Spine (who taught me a great deal about being a good manager), and Chris Samoiloff and Michael D Harris, who have allowed me to pepper them with questions about style guides and toolkits.
I finished my first 90 days. Yes, I have action plans,and I have taken responsibility for decisions, but perhaps most important of all, I”ve started to become a member of a great UXD community at EMC.