Why are so many people struggling with ownership and roles? Part 1
Debates about ownership seem to be all around me. I see them on our teams, client’s teams and online.
Holding onto the idea that I should own the design meant disenfranchising my non-design coworkers. It meant having ridiculous arguments that weren’t about the product or substance, but rather who was responsible for which decisions. Instead of grasping onto opportunities for collaboration and embracing the strengths of other disciplines, I created a silo, a wall, a territory.
I wasn’t allowed to participate in feature decisions. Those were made by the Product Managers. I was just the person who designed them. I felt like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory, trying to wrap up all these features in pretty designs. The conveyor belt never stopped…I saw features become approved that didn’t relate to the feedback I was hearing from customers. When I tried questioning why we were building them, I was quickly shot down
Roles can become blurry when the engineering manager starts dictating which features will be in the next release or the product manager oversteps and tries to provide detailed technical directions to the engineering team.
What I think is happening is that the old school through it over the wall mentality has been eroding and that comes with new challenges.
This can be seen in the increasing overlap in the roles of product, UX and engineering. UXers are pushing for greater influence on strategy and they are getting it.
Product management is an emerging role and their is a whole lot of inconsistency in what product managers do from company to company. This is further complicated by the diversity of skill sets an individual product manager or UXer has.
Teams need clear roles but people want to be heard and be creative. Teams need to balance collaboration and execution. Some teams have found this balance and others are stuck in debates about ownership and that is stopping them from getting things done.
I’ve tried different ways to managing this, but I think there might be better answers out there. So I’m going to go looking. I’m going to start with academic research and see if those ideas work in the real world. I will try to blog my way through this journey and I’m interested to hear what you have to say about this.
Image: Not my favorite, but I made this from another image on this blog