9am26 Newsletter - Reflections on Design Leadership

9am26 is my biweekly newsletter on all things product design leadership: design and research practice, managing people and teams, finding our places in tech product orgs, scaling and maturity, describing best practices and new ways of being a design leader from great companies and design teams. Why am I writing this again?

e43 The team’s common rituals build the team

6 minute read

When a design team is formed from individual designers, it needs to have certain rituals in place to grow into an actual team. Besides the usual suspects of ...

e42 Facilitating participatory design

5 minute read

Designers might describe what they do as designing, but more often than not, it’s more facilitating. The modern design process calls for participation not on...

e41 Articulating the design team’s value

8 minute read

Some design teams have a vague understanding of how they contribute to their organization beyond the daily tasks of producing UIs. However, the value the tea...

e40 Prototypes model experiences

6 minute read

Since we design interactive systems, prototypes are the most important artifacts we can produce in our work. Prototypes expand what we can create, model the ...

e39 2023 Retrospect

2 minute read

2023 is drawing to an end, which is a good time to take a pause, reflect a bit on the year, and chart a path for the coming year.

e37 Nurturing designer and researcher careers

6 minute read

Effective nurturing of designers and researchers is not only crucial for their career development but also essential for building a high-impact design organi...

e35 Develop your leadership style

6 minute read

Design leadership style is a powerful determinant of a design team’s effectiveness. By understanding and articulating your style, you can be a more intention...

e34 Wartime - peacetime design leadership

7 minute read

Product design and research leaders are facing a shift from peacetime to wartime conditions. With shifting priorities, layoffs, budget cuts, and higher deman...

e33 Activating insights for the design process

8 minute read

Evidence-based design serves the users truly, and actively using user research insights provides the evidence. Use workshops and other collaborative tools to...

e32 Rigor is essential in user research

11 minute read

Rigor is a key ingredient in any successful user research project. But what does rigor mean, exactly? And how can you ensure that your research is rigorous?

e31 Why writing matters for designers

6 minute read

Writing is a valuable skill for product designers, especially in distributed teams. Besides its inherent use for async communication, it’s a valuable tool fo...

e30 Raising the team’s empathy

7 minute read

Empathy is a key skill for designers and design teams. The ability to understand another person not only helps in creating better products but also in establ...

e27 Onboarding designers

6 minute read

Onboarding new design team members in a good way is essential for their success and the overall productivity of the team. Planning this right fosters a suppo...

e26 Product trios for designers

7 minute read

Product trios is a great team setup to do product discovery, yet working in this type of close collaboration is not for everyone. Designers need to be prepar...

e25 Writing useful hypotheses

7 minute read

Writing useful hypotheses in the product design process helps understand user and business problems better while fostering critical thinking about the produc...

e24 Problem space, solution space

6 minute read

Understanding the concepts of problem space and solution space is crucial for achieving exceptional product outcomes. While these two realms are intricately ...

e23 Celebrating successes is a team effort

7 minute read

In the fast-paced world of product design, celebrating successes often takes a backseat to chase the next goal. But failing to acknowledge achievements toget...

e20 Designing meaningful products with AI

9 minute read

AI has become a buzzword in tech, but simply adding it to a product does not guarantee value. Designers need to have an understanding of the underlying techn...

e18 Sustainability for product design teams

6 minute read

Product designers should think about including more sustainable practices in their work. They should consider carbon consumption, influencing business models...

e09 What is good design

4 minute read

Design teams and leaders need to define what good design looks like within their context to be able to push for better outcomes.

e07 Player-coach leaders

4 minute read

Player-coach roles in design teams are getting more common again but come with tradeoffs for both design leaders and their teams. Leaders need to balance the...

e06 Delight is great UX

4 minute read

Well-polished details on their own are not enough for delight, the users’ goals need to be met exceptionally too.

e05 Teams of T-shaped designers

5 minute read

Product design teams are more effective and produce higher quality output if they have deep expertise in each design discipline, while they also need general...

e04 Writing great job ads

6 minute read

The hiring process needs to be a designed experience, and job ads are the first touchpoints for potential candidates. A great job ad should be human-centered...

e03 Structuring research notes

3 minute read

Taking notes on user research sessions should go beyond asking observers to write down everything they see. Structuring notes drive impact beyond a single se...

e02 Brag doc - Keeping track of wins

4 minute read

Brag doc, a running list of what has gone well, is a great practice for designers to reflect and keep track of learnings and wins. It also helps managers to ...

Welcome to 9am26

less than 1 minute read

I’m glad you’ve subscribed to my newsletter on design leadership! I hope you find something worthwhile in each issue that helps you in your daily practice.