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4 Core Capabilities for a Building Strong UX Team

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  • Dr. Kenya Freeman Oduor is a human-centered researcher, strategist, and solution designer. She is the founder and CEO of Lean Geeks, a company offering consulting, staffing, and coaching in user research and design. Kenya previously held roles from User Experience Engineer at IBM to Director of User Experience at LexisNexis.

UX team

I have a passion for working with people and building things, and my career has allowed me to explore the synergy between understanding people at a cognitive and physical level and creating things. 

As I’ve advanced from being a researcher and practitioner to the CEO of a company offering consulting, staffing, and coaching in user research and design, I’ve learned that ensuring good UX relies on a well-rounded team. I look for four core capabilities when building a strong UX design team:

  •       User focus
  •       Facilitation skills
  •       Execution
  •       Operations

User Focus 

You need someone who is user-focused and can handle the responsibilities of going out and talking to the customer. You want to ensure that you have someone who knows when to validate in the creation process. You can’t just go off into the lab and then come out with the big reveal. You need to test and learn constantly. 

Facilitation 

Many teams lack facilitation skills within their UX organization, but it’s important to have individuals with those capabilities. 

For example, if all I can do is tell an effective story—but I don’t know how to gather insights from the team or get the team to brainstorm ideas on how to implement them—then I’m doing a disservice to that data. 

Execution 

You always need people who live and breathe creating. Everyone can’t be a strategist. Some people actually have to do the work. Having designers who are really passionate about creating at a detailed level is necessary.

Operations

One of the biggest struggles I’ve seen in my time as a leader in UX is people not recognizing how important it is to get something done in a timely fashion. You can’t keep designing; you have to stop at some point. You are a step in the process, and if you prolong your step or don’t give credence to a deadline, you can derail the value and respect of the team. So, you need operations people who can think about getting the work done.

With these core capabilities, your team will have what it needs to deliver a powerful UX and drive impact.

This blog post is adapted from Kenya Oduor’s episode of Pragmatic Institute’s Design Chats podcast. For more, check out the full conversation.

Author

  • Dr. Kenya Freeman Oduor is a human-centered researcher, strategist, and solution designer. She is the founder and CEO of Lean Geeks, a company offering consulting, staffing, and coaching in user research and design. Kenya previously held roles from User Experience Engineer at IBM to Director of User Experience at LexisNexis.

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