Shape & Scale No. 1 – Hello 👋🏽
Welcome to Shape & Scale – a newsletter for design managers, directors, and principals
Welcome, friends! 👋🏽
You’re reading Shape & Scale – a newsletter for design managers, directors, and principals. I’m grateful for you being here.
Why am I starting a newsletter?
I’ve been a people manager for eight years, and a professional designer for twelve years. I absolutely love being a manager, because I derive my personal sense of accomplishment from building environments where individuals thrive and do their best work. I feel more pride in my team’s accomplishments than anything I’ve ever personally crafted. Yet, I still love the craft – I never want to pursue a path that pulls me out of the pixels forever.
My first management role was in a quite hectic, disorganized environment. They were previously a flat organization, and the team was brilliant and relatively unexperienced. I didn’t have any coaching or mentoring support, so I was pretty much winging it based on the examples my previous managers set. I felt pretty insecure about my leadership abilities, because I had no one to validate what I was doing right, identify where I could improve, and coach me through it.
I went on to work at a series of smaller companies, each of which had varying levels of structure, support, and expectations for managers. I had exceptional managers who challenged me to grow in new, uncomfortable ways. And I had remarkably talented direct reports who shaped me into the leader I am today.
Today, I feel confident in my leadership skills. I’ve built a series of design teams from the ground-up, and generally left things better than I found them. In that spirit, I want to create a community for design leaders to support, uplift, and celebrate each other.
Shape & Scale will highlight managers, directors, and principal design practitioners across brand, product, research, systems, and operations. My hope is that design leaders, regardless of their experience level or org size, will feel a little less lonely. A little more confident. A little more inspired. Each newsletter may vary in format, from interviews to essays, but each will strive to be honest, vulnerable, engaging, and useful. Maybe some will even be funny. We’ll see.
Why Shape & Scale?
Shape & Scale was named to reflect both the craft of design, and the influence that a leader has on their organization.
A leader shape’s the team’s culture and work environment. They quite literally shape the make-up of the team. A leader shapes the team’s projects, from scope to final artifact. And most importantly, a good leader shapes the individuals on their team, through partnership with that person – like two hands working together to shape clay.
Scale speaks to both the scale of a team, and the scale of their impact. A leader may or may not be charged with increasing headcount on their team, but they are almost certainly thinking about ways to scale up the impact of their work. Scale is the drive to deliver more value, to do more, to grow.
I want to hear from you.
What do you want to read about?
What do you want to talk about?
If you’re a design manager, design director, or principal individual contributor, or otherwise interested in this content, please reach out.
Is there someone you admire who I should speak to? Let me know!
Thanks for reading this far. I’m excited to see where this leads us. ✨
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Design Director - always wanting to learn more about figuring out new processes and how to test, implement to your team.