October 29, 2019

TL;TD - "Develop influence, not authority" and other ideas

from original post "Designing at Google: 10 things I know to be true".

Develop influence, not authority

When I joined the search giant, I had the same title as hundreds of other designers and no direct reports. Here’s the thing — you don’t need a fancy title or to manage a team to be a design leader.

Google is very much a relationship-based organization where influence is everything. Building strong partnerships with product managers, UX researchers, and engineers are essential. That’s been true for every company I’ve designed at, but especially here.

How do you build influence? Start building trust by asking questions, listening, and taking a personal interest. Once you’ve got the team’s trust, inspire others on your vision by showing how it aligns with the team’s goals.

Get feedback early and often

As the new designer on the team, take advantage of your status by asking lots of questions. You don’t know what you don’t know. There’s a lot of history and design decisions that went into a product that you’ll need to uncover. Don’t be afraid to show unfinished work to get early feedback. By the time I go into a design review, I’ve already had a chance to address any concerns.

People over technology

The one thing that stays consistent is people. Human’s are creatures of habit and don’t change as fast. Understand how to work with your teammates, their motivations, and goals. It’s much more important than learning new tools.

Understand the business

Throughout my career, I’m amazed by how many people don’t understand the business they work for. Everything from the products, users, goals, and how they make money.

Knowing the business makes it easier to convince cross-functional partners to invest in your solutions. Google is big on OKR’s (objectives and key results).