This week in ux-clinic: Keep ’em seperated?

This week in the ux-clinic discussion forum:

I’m a lead designer (manage team of 5 usability and design folks) who was told last week to merge with another UX team. I’ll be the overall manager, but I’ve never managed a group this large. My team services about 10 projects across the company, and we’re a centralized and self-contained org.

I see 3 options:

1) Keep the org flat for awhile. Until I see a path, stay with one manager (me) and 10+ reports.

2) Split into a design team and a usability team. I’d be the uber UX manager, with one design lead and one usability lead.

3) Cross-discipline. I’d mix roles on both teams, with two UX leads, and some designers and usability engineers reporting to each of them.


3 Responses to “This week in ux-clinic: Keep ’em seperated?”

  1. Chad

    I’m a PM Lead, not a Design Lead, but here are some questions it would be useful to have answered in terms of making a decision on one of these options over another:

    1. Does the team you’re merging with already have a manager? If so, what is his/her role going to be?

    2. Does your team provide the same type/level of services to all 10 of your projects equally?

    3. Do you have people in place today that could be the managers in either situation 2/3? In situation 3, do you have a manager that can successfully grow both disciplines working for them?

    4. Who would own/manage the projects in options 1 and 2? The design lead or the usability lead? If you’d split the responsibiliites, how?

    If you post back some responses/thoughts on these questions, I’ll check back and post some more. At the end of the day, you may want to take Scott’s advice in one of the more recent essays – it might be worth holding off on drastic changes until you get the lay of the land with the new team, status of the projects you’re picking up, etc…

  2. Pawel Brodzinski

    I vote for two teams with set roles (design and usability). Managing 10+ people is not as effective as it is with 5-7 people. Teams with mixed roles scales up worse than dedicated teams. And probaly you’d have to face “I prefer this team, so I’d give them more difficult/better/whatsoever projects” issue.

    You can try fourth option – two teams (design and usability) and manage one of them directly and oanother wit its leader. It’s a bit strange but I’ve seen this kind of ogranizations work. And to be honest – do you really need one uber manager only for two people (leaders)?

  3. Scott (admin)

    Not that I’m voting this way, but one uber manager for two leads can be ok, especially if it’s for two different roles. That uber dude has to be the most senior Designer as well as the most senior Usability engineer in the organization, and manage the politics and drive leadership for both roles.

    I’m prone to #1 – If I don’t have a clear goal, or problem to solve, I’m convinced I’ll do more damage than good by re-orging. I’d ask my team to hang in there, help give me feedback on what organizational or process problems we have, and only after I know what the game is.


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