By Jaime Guerrero on Mar 04, 2008
I'm taking an interesting UCSC seminar-course "User Experience Managers Speak" led by the Richard Anderson, famous for his roles in leading BayCHI and DUX.
Those of you who are not familiar with Richard Anderson's work or taken any of his courses are missing out!
Check out his blog.
One theme that is emerging is the importance of Trust. We don't hear a lot about that in the literature or in casual conversation of the HCI business; usually we talk of Us (HCI people) versus Them (engineering). In this class, however, ALL the successful manager-speakers so far (4) have stressed the importance of the UX Manager and staff establishing Trust relationships with the engineering teams they work with.
The speaker at the first class was Jim Nieters, formerly of Oracle and now director of UX at Yahoo. He said that as a leader, a UX manager needs strong relationships with many key people across an organization. These relationships are emotional bonds - trust - and very important. He said that this is far more important than more traditional UX organizational concerns such as "whom you report to in the org chart". He cites a "Trust Gap" between UX Staff and senior corporate executives in most organizations. (Many UX practitioners are not trusted to be pushing for things that the company really needs). He also points out that trust requires face-to-face physical contact- meetings, conversations, etc., and that trust is earned.
Anderson has blogged about Nieter's lecture.
An interesting related tidbit is that Trust was mentioned twice at xDesign's Design Summit. Notably, that establishing Trust relationships requires face to face physical human contact; an interesting problem at a distributed company that employs telecommuting so extensively.