Winding Back The Clock On UX And Product Management

On May 2, 2021 the Nielsen Norman Group published a research article entitled PM and UX Have Markedly Different Views of Their Job Responsibilities.

The intention of the research was to answer the following questions that were posed to both PM and UX professionals:

1. Do other roles overstep on the work of PM and UX, and, if so, how often?
2. Which roles overlap with PM and UX?
3. Why does duplicative work happen?
4. What are the effects of work overlap?
5. Who do PM and UX think is responsible for which activities and deliverables?
6. Who holds the power at the organization?

Having experienced first hand the evolution of both roles over the past 15 years, both as a senior consultant and team lead, the findings are not at all surprising.

Many mistakes are being repeated in companies because of leadership not clearly defining roles and responsibilities.

In addition, companies continue to make design decisions based solely on data and the desire to move faster; forgetting about the need to occasionally slow down to listen, not merely sell and ship.

There is value in learning about how we got to now. If not, people will continue to make mistakes in design and choices for products. For example, I still hear of junior designers and product managers discussing this “new” concept of designing for the fold.

Reading the entire study had me reflect on a podcast I did over 14 years ago with Jeff Lash and Chris Baum on a two part article entitled Transitioning from User Experience to Product Management

Podcast from April 2, 2007 at with Jeff Lash and Chris Baum on “Transitioning from User Experience to Product Management

Note: Many of the shows I produced have been removed. I’m working with the brilliant new team at Boxes and Arrows to retrieve past conversations, for future posts. Also, a transcript for this conversation can be found on the original show notes page.

In my experience there are many reasons these roles overlap, including but not limited to the research findings by the Nielsen Norman Group.

To explain specifics from my professional experiences in a blog post would be futile; that discussion requires a conversation, not an oversimplified top 10 list.

That is why I got into the medium of podcasting even prior to this episode; to give others the chance to think critically; to better understand complex and new ideas through dialogue.

Field Notes

I would encourage you to find some time to read through the research.

Afterwards, listen to the discussion from 14 years ago where Jeff and Chris so kindly took the time to share their experiences.

Take some time to think critically not just about the research and podcast, but also how you might change your approach to working collaboratively regardless of your title.

If companies can’t articulate responsibilities between disciplines, then I would argue both PM and UX professionals should see this as an opportunity to come together and define responsibilities for themselves.

The only thing we should be caring about, and focused on, is delivering better outcomes for the customer.

A few thoughts for your consideration:

  • Did you listen to the conversation as a PM and find not much has changed in 14 years? Or has everything changed?
  • If you’re in UX does this resonate with past or current experiences?
  • Do you have a better understanding of the research from the Nielsen Norman Group based on this qualitative discussion?