thoughts on transitions

i was having a phone conversation today with a potential client and professional colleague when she asked me if i had thought about submitting a proposal to the IA Summit – for the management track – about my transition out of traditional management. We were talking about my transition from being a manager of managers, at Yahoo!, to a manager of a small team, also at Yahoo!, to my role now as a consultant where my world has been turned upside down in terms of my role.

after some discussion, I thought was an interesting idea. We have talked a lot about design (and IA) as an in-house person and as a consultant over the years. I have written a lot about managing and about making the transition from an individual contributor to management, but I haven’t seen a lot or talked to many people about making the transition back out of management. I know people do it – I had people on my own staff who wanted to manage, did for awhile, then went back to the individual role. But that was generally after a short period of time. I have spent the better part of ten years on one side of the fence.

now I am on the other.

and it’s weird. not bad – some days absolutely terrific for all the reasons why I made the shift. but I am in that uncomfortable zone where I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I am doing. and sometimes I really don’t know what I am doing since I have never done this before.

  • do I start a concept model with circles or squares?
  • I’ll just have XX do that.  oh, there is no XX. where’s my team? who do I delegate to now? I spent a long time learning how to do that.
  • do the levels of pages in a website architecture really need to line up?
  • how do I keep an architecture map and a site inventory spreadsheet in sync?
  • does reading my google reader and twitter stream count as research?
  • how do I show content blocks on a sitemap while still keeping things high level? is that even possible?
  • how often do I call back or email back a prospective client before I get annoying?
  • how do I meet potential talent if I am busy working on a suite of wireframes and haven’t left my basement office in two days?
  • how much do we charge for that? really? that much?

It’s a new landscape and I am enjoying it and learning tons but I am definitely in my discomfort zone. thank goodness I have partners to learn from and lean on. I think there are a lot of points about these transitions to and from management and individual contributor, from in-house to out of house and back – that might make for an interesting presentation.

what do you think?

current: partner, tangible user experience :: a full-service user experience design consulting firm. former Yahoo! founder of the public and internal Yahoo! pattern library. dse. design director of ued teams responsible for designing solutions across key yahoo! platforms: social media, personalization, membership and vertical search.

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