Leading Design

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Leading Design Festival. A virtual, 3-day conference hosted by Clearleft. Thank you Axon.

What is it?

For people leading design teams, overseeing design direction, or instilling a culture of design within their organization. All the essentials of what makes a great leader.

I mostly learn by doing but at least once a year I dedicate time to truly stop, and learn.

Slow down to go fast.

Here are a few brief notes and hightlights.

Julie Zhuo

Former VP of Design @ Facebook, and Author of The Making of a Manager

What she thought would make her a great leader was just being a great designer. If you don’t know what good design looks like, how can you know who to hire? It’s the difference between being a creator and an editor.

Diagnose with data. Treat with design. If I showed you data that said 20% growth year over year, is it a great product? Great is subjective. Great compared to what? To last year? To our competitors?

Aaron Irizarry

Head of Design @ Capital One

Get out of the fucking way. How to balance facilitating without slowing things down. Take up less space. Amplify others.

Doug Powell

VP of Design @ IBM

When the team sees you investing in yourself, they feel like they should be investing in themselves.

Jane Austin

Chief Design Officer @ Flo Health

Congratulations. You got promoted – now prepare to suck at a completely different job.
Being kind is not the same as being soft.
To be respected is to be fair but not necessarily to be liked.
Biggest mistake as a director was underestimating her power. She didn’t realize that with the seat at the table she could disagree and change the conversation. If you make your case well you can shift important things that define the culture, something no one else in your organization can do.
Your number one job is to run a team in which people are emotionally fulfilled and inspired. This isn’t free lunch, or nice coffee. This is about doing great work and seeing individual and team contributions making a difference.

Noah Levin

Design Director @ Figma

Hiring great people is the most impactful thing you can do at a company.

Keep pushing,

Published by Karsten Rowe

Karsten is a Product Design Director, with over 15 years of industry history. Based in Seattle. Focused on teams, UI, UX, and design systems.