Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to lead many projects and people. It all started with an agency that I co-founded in the 90s. From there, I experienced just about every type of working environment — from running my own company, freelancing, working with early-stage start-ups, and finally to building in-house corporate teams. Each has provided me with new perspectives and tools for leading.
While I never shy away from trail-blazing as an individual, I recognize that I am most fulfilled when helping others achieve their potential by doing their best work. Below are a few pages from my leadership playbook.
You can only spark innovative leaps by creating the space to guide exploration and elevate great ideas. I find this most successful when it is outside the bounds of core product development, where your team can look well beyond the next agile sprint. Ideate, then validate.
I make sure that I understand the goals of the organization. This helps me lead collaborators to frame the right problems, prioritize the right work, and set the right goals through workshops and design sprints. Is project Z more important than project X? Is this project’s goal revenue or engagement? Why? It is healthy to debate and critical to measure what matters.
My modus operandi is evangelizing for the customer by emphasizing Minimum Lovable Product over Minimum Viable Product. It’s a mindset that makes the customer central to every conversation: from the idea and spec through development and post-launch measurement.
Design’s largest potential is realized when it is connected to business success – the true route to scaling its impact. I make sure that my team understands the business strategy and vision by being transparent and providing the data they need to be aligned and make good decisions.
Everything is about shipping products that matter, faster. I influence by codifying guidelines of what works so teams can collaborate effectively and efficiently. I also help teams decide when the work is good enough.
I like to use the right amount of structure and rituals to keep teams aligned and the work transparent and on-track. Depending on the org, this includes kickoff meetings, daily standups, chat check-ins, design critiques, week-end updates, project demos, and retros.
I invest in each person’s growth. I set clear career ladders and coach individuals to be their own advocates. Through regular 1:1s, I help them self-evaluate and target areas to develop. We discuss goals, successes, and challenges. Collaboratively, we look for the right opportunities in the work to level-up.
I like to discover what is important to the team by co-developing team values. I keep the team creative through sessions to discuss trends, practice skills, review inspirational products, and share insights from books, podcasts, meetups, and conferences. I also evaluate design maturity at the company level to identify gaps and set team OKRs.
I am always recruiting. I’m on the lookout for talent by engaging in the community, connecting with experienced practitioners and up-and-comers. I’m always thinking strategically about what is needed next to grow the team and best serve the company’s goals. I build up capabilities to provide a competitive advantage.
Lastly, I consider myself a lifelong learner. I maintain relationships with other product and design leaders to seek feedback and pick up new approaches. I read voraciously, attend events, and listen to podcasts on leadership and topical interests. Mentorship is also an important mechanism that I use to share knowledge and gain fresh perspectives.