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How Designers Can Earn a Seat at the Table

First Round Review
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Phil King, a design executive at Flickr, explains how designers can become strong leaders and add value to companies of any size.

Find Your Seat at the Table – Use broad design thinking to improve and show your leadership.

  • Go above and beyond.
  • Solicit feedback from your peers.
  • Spot opportunities to be a mentor.
  • Embrace learning new skills.
  • Absorb, document, and share.

Build Productive Relationships

  • Genuinely listen to your peers and offer your insight along the way.
  • Your interest and ability to teach make your desire and ability to lead more credible.
  • Building empathy with your customer base can help you understand and influence your team.

Grow Your Team Mindfully

  • Evaluate your skills and when you aren’t particularly strong in a certain area, hire someone who is.
  • Hiring people to fill skills gaps keeps your environment fresh and creative.
  • Other tips for hiring team members:
  • Involve your current team.
  • Gauge the candidate’s self-awareness and humility.
  • Optimize your team for collaboration.

Spot Trends and Guide Change

  • When making large design changes, organize and direct the creative energy of your team into a collaborative effort with the rest of the company.
  • How to get the rest of your company to buy in on your team’s vision:
  • Be strategic and ask other teams about their key priorities.
  • Be inclusive and share your process with anyone who asks.
  • Present ideas as ideas to show flexibility.

Balance Structure and Process

  • Organizing people around problems instead of skills helps foster creative thinking and more well-rounded hypotheses.
  • Three ways to empower your team:
  • Conduct frequent check-ins.
  • Create safe space meetings to boost morale.
  • Present thoughtfully to the senior staff.

Ensure Impact

  • Provide autonomy and insist on accountability.
  • Checking in on a designer’s work is much different from micromanaging.
  • Ask to see work and early and often.
  • Represent your team well by being a vocal advocate for it throughout the company.
  • Bring proposals to the team that show how improved design and a stronger product are directly correlated.
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