Doing UX

Too often, when designers get hired to “do UX“ they have to convince entrenched parts of the organization that UX is a real job. Change will only happen once we have leaders that set the standard.

“My job shouldn’t be trying to convince you that I should get to do my job!” It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard from when interviewing a design professional, someone toiling in obscurity in an organization that didn’t appreciate her work. Sure, they told her all the right things when they hired her. We know user experience is important. We need someone to help develop this practice. We value your perspective.

Except hiring someone to “do UX” never solves the bigger problem, which is always rooted in organizational culture and politics. Processes that are “the way we’ve always done it.” Values and business practices that aren’t aligned around the customer experience. And always, always, no support from the executives with the power to make change happen.

I told the students in my Design Management class this year that I hoped one day they’d be offered this job. Not in five years—they wouldn’t be ready. Maybe in fifteen years. See, some of the interesting problems in the world that need solving happen in organizations that don’t yet know how to value what we do. The smart ones will figure it out—with the help of the right change agents. I told my students that I hoped when they were offered that job, they’d know themselves well enough to assess whether they were the person to do it.

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