Illustration by the awesomely talented Maryanne Nguyen

10 more things they didn’t tell you about design management…

Alastair Simpson
Sep 17 · 2 min read

This is a follow up to my original post, 10 things they didn’t tell you about design management.

  1. It can get lonely. You may still be one of the team, but many won’t see it that way as you are now the boss. Or the bosses, boss. Find your peeps that can give you the support you need to scale into your leadership role.
  2. Leadership can be painful, you will make mistakes and not everything will go to plan. But it is your job to put yourself out there for the good of your team, partners, product and customers. When you do this with all your heart, sometimes you will fly too close to the sun and get burnt.
  3. Having a side project is not impossible, but it’s fucking hard. Your team, customers and partners need 110% of your attention.
  4. Some days you will feel like you are failing. Sometimes you will be. Sometimes you won’t be. Believe in yourself and push through.
  5. Your calendar will look like a pack of colored spray cans exploded in a room. Learn to ruthlessly prioritise and to say no. Managing your time efficiently is a necessary art.
  6. You might spend more time talking about business words like strategy, revenue, MAU than design words like voice & tone, mental model and white space.
  7. It is ok to say I don’t know. Vulnerability as a leader is a great thing. Your team will also see you as more of a human if you do.
  8. Your main job is to be an engaged partner for your cross-discipline teams. Spend as much time as you can learning about the problems your partners are trying to solve. Shipping products customers love is a team sport — don’t sit there with headphones on all day, everyday.
  9. Your team want you to be a leader, not a manager. Don’t reactively manage situations all the time. Proactively lead with all your heart.
  10. Your job is not to be the smartest person in the room. Your job is to create the space and psychological safety for every member of your team to be active participants and create the space for them to solve problems as a group.

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Designing Atlassian

Tales from the Atlassian design team

    Alastair Simpson

    Written by

    I help teams create engaging, sustainable product experiences…with the help of pencils, sharpies, post-its and collaborative thinking…Design Leader @ Atlassian

    Designing Atlassian

    Tales from the Atlassian design team

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