So either you are the head of UX Team or you are part of one and feel that the UX Team is yet to find its feet in the organisation, as a manner of speaking…

If you fit either of the profile, then you may find whats ahead, interesting.

From my experience, below are the 4 top reasons why UX has not been able to make its presence felt —

  1. Not aligned with Org/Business Goals

This one is by far the top reason why UX Teams struggle. UX is not doing design for the sake of it. It MUST tie-up to the product and eventually the business.

Unlike other teams — marketing, engineering, legal, etc…UX is a new stream and it will take a LOT of work to make other teams and overall the Org to recognize the value of it.

And the only way to provide value is to talk in the language other teams understand. Pixie dust, UX/design jargon just wont work even if you and your team are the best in what you do on this planet! Period.

2. Unable to work(network?)with cross-functional teams

Frankly this took me a long and hard path to understand.

As much as we live in denial, UX Team needs support of other teams. We need support of engineering, we need support of marketing, we need support of sales people, we need support of Product Managers.

Working alone is as good as working on your startup of setting up a Design Consultancy/Studio business but in this case your efforts of Pitching will take a LOT more efforts and yield very little. The easy part, comparatively, is to get along other teams and make them buy-in your story and vision right from the start. Show them what you can do and how you can add value to their work.

It definitely will not be easy as another chain has been added to the streams of reviews/approvals/sign-off and there will be hell lot of resistance, but hey if it was easy anyone could have done it. And always keep your users in mind and how your work will benefit them in the end. That’s your ultimate NorthStar!

If you sit in your fancy cabin or cubicle and act as if you are on a beach sipping cocktails oblivious to the world around you, well you/your team will become oblivious to the Org very soon.

3. UX Team stands out

Its ok if your work stands out but if you or your team stands out, its a big red flag. It shows that the other teams don’t think you are part of the bigger team. And there can be multiple reasons for it.

It can either be that the Team Head/Lead did something which led to the whole team getting bad-mouthed. This seems unfair but that’s the way corporate life plays out. Egos can be super brittle and it needs just one hit to crack the whole thing out for the team.

There can be attitude problem, after all, with being creative its easy to get carried that we are ‘different’ and the usual rules of engagement and working don’t apply to us.

People don’t see the Design team as adding any value and they think we exist just because the Management feels so.

4. Excess baggage of the past

Every company regardless of the size has its own culture/DNA. What works for Google will not work for Microsoft, as an example.

So for example when a Googler joins any other company, his/her opinion will be heard and counted but only if its in sync with the culture of the Organisation. Just because someone worked in XYZ, earned tons of money, was an entrepreneur, doesn’t mean it will be a smooth sailing in another company.

One needs to unlearn, unload the baggage of the past and needs to learn and adapt to the new culture of the current organisation.

Its really that simple and yet in my personal experience, people make this mistake a lot and in the process the teams and careers suffer, for years.

So whats your experience of what worked and what did not?