Upcoming Presentation: The Unicorn Is Dead

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving a presentation at the EvolveUX 2016 Conference on June 16 in San Francisco. The talk title is “The Unicorn Is Dead: Soft Skills Trump Coding Skills” and I’m fairly confident it’s going to spark some lively discussion.

Here’s the summary:

Good news everyone! UX salaries are up! Hiring is strong! So why are so many UX’ers still feeling like they have to fight for a seat at the grown-up table?

Is it because we’re not unicorns? That is, we’re not all UX researchers, designers AND front-end developers?

Nope. That’s not the reason.

Here’s why: UX’ers love to explore design and solution spaces. It’s what we do. Some of us even like (or at least don’t hate) to code. It’s never been easier, with frameworks, libraries and so many proven patterns for web and mobile.

But as a community of practice, we’re not so good at critical competencies such as:

  • Articulating an experience vision, aligning it with the business’s product vision, and also subtly influencing the product vision through user research dissemination.
  • Keeping up the slow, steady, often frustrating work of organizational change and alignment around user needs.

So what’s the fix? It’s deceptively simple: UX practitioners need to learn to play better with our neighboring disciplines, learn to “manage up” as well as borrow some techniques from our partners in product management. We need to develop our organizational influence skills, aka soft skills.

That is, we need to:

  • Learn how to develop strategic vision and implementable tactical action plans that align with our organization’s goals.
  • Internalize the fact that at least half of our job is to be change agents, and act accordingly.

Attendees of this talk will learn more about:

  • What specific soft skills UX managers are desperately looking for in their contributors.
  • How practitioners and those who train them can begin to address this need.

I’m really looking forward to this presentation. It’s the culmination of many years of thinking about and exploring the disconnect between what early career UX practitioners /think/ they need to learn and what UX managers and peers in adjacent disciplines actually /need/ UX’ers to know.

Here’s a 15% discount code if you’d like to join me and other great speakers June 14-16 in San Francisco: EVOLVEPS15