Design management

March 31st 2016

As a manager, you don’t need to know it all. You don’t even need to pretend to know it all. The best coaches aren’t the best athletes. The best teachers aren’t the best executors. Your job is to get better work out of the team then they could have gotten without you, either because they are afraid of you, or because they are motivated by you.

The design management path has been on my mind lately, not as something for the short-term (😬) but as a longer-term area of expertise I'd love to explore. It seems appropriately scary, to the point where I know that if I go down that path I would grow and learn and be better for having tried.

With that in mind, I am 100% behind the way Facebook approaches design management: it is not the only path forward for a young designer! At a certain level, individual contributors can choose to keep pushing forward in IC work or jump over to the management track - it's a step sideways, not a step up. You can be successful on both paths, with corresponding promotions and increased areas of influence.

If you want to work in pixels forever: you can. But if you want to try something new and scary and push your personal comfort zone outward: you can try that, too.

I hope that more companies will start to embrace the idea that a good designer does not always equal a good manager, and vice versa. And forcing someone to take a dead-end path where they can't be their best-self will only result in frustration and churn.

Julie's post, linked above, is brilliant. I can't wait for part two...

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