I recently read Lean UX and I recommend everyone within the industry pick up and evaluate this book for themselves. I found several principles within the book to fall inline with my own observations and personal experience. You can safely assume these common viewpoints will resurface for the next little while. The first of which, is a conspicuous lack of emphasis on job titles.
I recently received a business card from a new contact that had the job title, “UX Ninja.” I couldn’t help remember a post on this very issue. Then I came across The UX Job Title Generator. It seems our job titles have become even more arbitrary than I imagined. The UX industry has a greater identity crisis than any other design discipline I’ve ever been exposed to.
As frustrating as this can be, I can’t provide a solution, other than to ignore titles altogether. There are two Lean UX principles that I believe will back me up. First and foremost is the principle of a team-based mentality. Egotistical designers, the ninjas and rockstars if you will, are typically not interested in teamwork. Gothelf and Seiden recommend “activities and responsibilities are distributed and shared across the entire team.” Not once do the authors specify these UX activities to be performed by a specific job title. The focus should be on the team and their dedication to the outcome of the product. This is the second principle worth noting: emphasis on outcomes, not output. When you have a team focused on improving the end product, it doesn’t matter who does what as long as you reach that goal together.
Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup (of which Lean UX is partly derived) said, “A solid process lays the foundation for a healthy culture, one where ideas are evaluated by merit and not by job title.” The only solution I see for cleaning up the mess of UX job titles out there is to drop them altogether and focus on the activities that teams need to perform in order to make the product better. It may sound like idealistic, kumbuya, mumbo jumbo to some, but I believe this team-based mentality will help lower the demand for rockstar designers and increase outcome driven design.