The interview lasts around 45 minutes, followed by a 15-minute Q&A. If you don’t have time to watch the full video, you can use the transcript and timestamps below to identify the parts you’re most interested in.
00:00 Jay Tulloch’s background
05:23 Transitioning into a leadership role
12:20 Growing your team
15:04 The impact of ResearchOps
19:39 Challenges blended teams face
25:12 The tools depend on the industry
27:30 Shifting from responsibility to accountability
31:13 Giving good feedback
36:53 Values and principles
47:27 Book recommendations
1:03:26 Jay Tulloch at UX Live in London
- The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo
- Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck
Keep up with Jay on Social Media
Transcript with timestamps
Sandro: Okay. So now, Jay, to you, who are you? What are you going to talk about at UX LIVE, and yeah, give us a quick intro.
Jay Tulloch: Who am I? So, I’m Jay Tulloch, I’m head of design at Metro Bank, I’ve been at Metro Bank for just under three years now. I was the first UX designer hired by the company three years ago. Since then we’ve made leaps and bounds, improved our mobile app considerably, we’ve moved it from, I think it was 2.4 star when I started. Now it’s one of the highest-rated banking apps on the app store and Google Play store, so we’re really proud about that. We’ve also established online account opening journeys as well, we’ve created experiences around that which are constantly improving, so that’s been quite brilliant too. And we’ve actually scaled quite quickly in 2019. So kind of moving from quite a small team of designers, so UX and UI designers, and now we’re kind of a team of about 25 designers, and consisting of UX/UI. We also have a research function as well, and we’re building up design ops function too. So really it’s [inaudible 00:01:23], just kind of quick snapshot as to how much we’ve grown, where we’ve come from.
Jay Tulloch: And to be honest with you, my whole talk at UX LIVE is just all around leadership. Basically, my first 600 days running the design function over at Metro Bank. How it came about it was when you go online, you go Medium and all of these other platforms, YouTube, everybody is always talking about what it takes to be a great leader and how to run great things, how to be an effective manager. All of this kind of good stuff, and that’s great, but nobody tells you about the transition, nobody tells you about what to expect going into a leadership position. That’s something, which for me, I’m going into such a large role from a senior lead and designer, I’m effectively running a design function, but not just for UX, but for UI design too and research. It’s a massive step up and if no one really tells you what to expect, then [inaudible 00:02:29] that transition and they can half navigate that.
Jay Tulloch: So effectively, this talk is the talk that I wish I had. To help others who are thinking about making that transition into product management or leadership and moving to design, or even thinking of taking a bigger role in the future, it’s just kind of managing your expectations and making sure you’re well prepared for it.
Sandro: Can you walk me through a little bit, your decision process. Were you approached for taking this role? Were you actively working towards inhabiting such a role? Or was this an organic process? And then also, once you had the job, now what? Did you transition into it, or was it you’re in charge now and you run things?
Jay Tulloch: Yeah, so literally it was almost, there was a slight transition period that I was, due to unfortunate circumstances with our prior boss at the bank. I transitioned into that role in the interim period, and pairing together, I managed to keep the wheels moving within the team and make sure that we didn’t skip any deadlines, make sure that we still delivered effectively on project as well. And delivering those experiences that our customers deserve.
Jay Tulloch: Off the back of that, I was always on that trajectory. Throughout my career, it’s been mentioned that I had leadership qualities and that kind of stuff, and that kind of reinforces your confidence. So I was able to take the reins there and eventually that become a permanent position. So I took hold of the team, and at that point we were a team of four, and as I mentioned prior, we’ve made heaps and bounds [inaudible 00:04:44], we’re in a good place now and continually improving.
Sandro: And what are … So, how do I have to envision that in terms of personal challenges, because you talk about this transition phase and you’ve been thrown into the cold water. You’re doing an interim job, and then is that … What are the personal challenges if I transition into a leadership role? Maybe also, what were you doing before, did you already have some leadership that you needed to kind of show? Or were you on the implementing side only?
Jay Tulloch: I wasn’t directly managing anybody, I was kind of one of the senior members of the team, so mentorship becomes a part of that package. Also, outside of the company I was always involved in the industry [inaudible 00:05:42], that kind of stuff.
Jay Tulloch: So I think for me, the hardest transition was more that feeling of imposter syndrome. You’ve gone from being a designer, from creating designs for the customers, and now you’re managing a team, you’re going to lead them on that vision. And these are people who you’ve already spent a considerable amount of time with, designing together, and now you’re transitioning into a manager role and with them reporting to you effectively. That is quite a transition that you need to get your head over. And luckily, I’m surrounded by really good people. The team are supportive and a lot of them backed me going into that position as well. So that made the transition a lot easier.
Jay Tulloch: What I’m going to be speaking about, mostly at the talk as well, I’ve mentioned this, there’s lots of things outside of day-to-day design management that you have to now consider. There’s HR responsibilities and issues, you have to navigate the whole recruitment side of things. It’s not as straight forward as writing a job specification and post it on LinkedIn. There’s other avenues that you need to take first, other conversations you have to have with the members of the business too.
Jay Tulloch: On top of that, there’s very difficult conversations that you might have to have as well. As a designer and with a manager that you’re reporting to, I don’t think we that into consideration when it comes to performance reviews for example. When it comes to, if you’re not feeling that great or if you’re having a down day and you speak to your manager about it. We don’t think about what it’s like to be on the other side of that table, and being your manager in that position having to hear this or having to provide some bad feedback or some constructive criticisms. Or even good feedback, we don’t know what that feels like, but you don’t really take that into consideration when you’re taking it all. You’re just think about design aspect of it. I’m going to make a grand fantastic product that users are going to love, with this fantastic team. But there’s all this other stuff and all that comes alongside it, that we don’t consider.
Sandro: With humans right, it’s humans. How do you educate yourself in terms of, you just talked about basically actively [inaudible 00:08:19], developing empathy and stuff like that. Do you do this on the job? Do you actively, do you have a coach? How do you approach that?
Jay Tulloch: So literally, at Metro Bank, we’re very fortunate that they provided the best training I think I’ve ever seen in that company. They have training platforms and especially for leadership tracks. So I was on the expedited leadership program, which is a six months course and you basically go through about 12 training courses and a practical as well, and that covers everything. That covers hard conversations, it covers your tone of voice for emails, it covers assertiveness, it covers persuasive writing and communication. Also, day-to-day management and one to ones and how to deliver an effective one to one, and make sure you get the best out of your team, and nurture them and give them what they need, and finding out what they need. It really tunes you into your senses and makes you a lot more self aware about what you’re doing when you’re communicating with people. That program in itself was exceptional.
Jay Tulloch: On top of that, I have various mentors. So I’ve been fortunate enough to be in very close contact with a lot of my former bosses as well and I meet up with them regularly. For instance, I’m meeting up with one of my bosses, I haven’t worked with him for about five years, meeting up with him tomorrow for example. I still got those close bonds, and if there’s anything I need to kind of run by them, with their experience, they’re more than happy to help. And it’s good to have that support network around you, especially when you’re transitioning. So that’s something, which I definitely recommend anybody who is transitioning over, to make sure that you do have some sort of mentors to help and guide you, even if you’re experienced as well. So it’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off.
Sandro: If you’re saying, because I think it’s an important point. But a lot of this stuff you were mentioning before like you go on Medium and you search … It’s this kind of generalized advice often times, and having someone where you can run through a problem and then having, getting another perspective is really valuable. How do you structure such, when do you actually go to someone else and ask for advice? What’s your process? Do you first think about it yourself and just when you cannot solve something? Or do you actually have regular meetings with people? Is it point by point, ad hoc kind of or is it, do you have-
Jay Tulloch: For me it’s more, I would like to think about a problem or matter at hand myself, and I think of some options before reaching out. If I’m really stuck with something, then I’ll just send a WhatsApp message or leave a voice note or I just call them and say this is happening, I want to deal with this properly. In your experience, have you dealt with similar situations?
Jay Tulloch: I’m talking to people who have 20 years, 10 years, experience, and managing quite large teams as well. So, I do trust their judgment and build that collective view. A lot of the time, you’ll find that actually your initial instinct was on the right track, but it’s really, you need somebody to affirm that for you as well.
Sandro: For sure. And so you mentioned before that when you came in, you were four people, you mentioned, right?
Jay Tulloch: Yeah.
Sandro: And now you’re 25 or 26. How did you think about growing the team? What goes through your mind? How do you also decided who to hire when, and also probably for different products and all this kind. How do you structure that? How do you strategize around that?
Jay Tulloch: It’s quite different for us, I mentioned that we’ve over the last 10 months we’ve had to grow quite quickly because we’ve had huge investments that have scaled up and anyway. So, the thought process was more around what do we have at the moment, where is it heading and where is that skillset leading towards? Is it more UX/UI? And what gaps do we need to fill.
Jay Tulloch: I think, when it comes to growing a team, you need to establish what your baseline is at the moment, and just be comfortable with where you are, and then start plugging in those gaps. So, you need to get an understanding of where the business is going, how many projects are going to be running first of all, and how long are they going to running for. We could be tomorrow our execs could say okay, we’re going to be launching 20 new products for example. Does that mean that I need 40 designers, UX and UI on these products or do we have enough people to be able to manage at the moment, and will projects be absorbing into existing projects?
Jay Tulloch: So I consider all that kind of stuff, and one thing that we 100% needed due to the scale of what we were doing, I think I mentioned to you earlier that we’re working across 16 different products initiatives at the moment. In order to deliver effectively on that, what we need is governance and what we need is regular insights being fed back into the team and shared. We needed the research and ops division and [crosstalk 00:14:46], and that is something that we’ve decided to build out and it’s been really, really effective for us in terms of communicating and changes across the teams and also sharing those insights and establishing similarities between customer behaviors across different projects as well. It saves us a lot of time.
Sandro: Can we talk a bit more about the research ops function, because it pops up more and more in companies and how do they help you? What’s different now that you’ve built out this function?
Jay Tulloch: It’s fantastic. So effectively, when I first joined, we had two UX designers working across three platforms, and we were only probably testing maybe twice, three times a quarter. We’re at a point right now where we are testing 15 to 20 times a month, and that’s all due to having a research ops function within the bank, which is effectively handling all of the logistics of recruitment, organizing the time slots for when these things are going to happen. Designers submit their briefs, and managing when those testing sessions are facilitated, kind of who by, who can attend. They’re just scheduling all that stuff in.
Jay Tulloch: That’s been so useful because having somebody handle all of that frees up the time for the designers who are on the project themselves, and they can continue to concentrate on solving those big customer problems, until they’re ready to take some time out and facilitate and get that feedback.
Jay Tulloch: I would say it’s really, really good and useful, its made us more effective and [inaudible 00:16:30], and efficient. And it’s also going to help to, maybe I’m not using the word right, evangelize the UX throughout the business and make people more aware of the benefits of getting the customer feedback regularly.
Sandro: Right, your team can focus on their core competencies instead of spending so much time on recruiting and admin stuff. And if for people who are listening, when do you start to think about the research ops function in the ideal case? What’s the threshold or is it from the beginning? How many people do you need in order to have a research ops person justified in a team?
Jay Tulloch: I think that’s quite a hard one because ideally I’d start building out that function from the beginning, just for the mere fact that these people are very proficient and specialized in, and they kind of coordinate all of this stuff. They don’t just handle the logistics, but they also handle the contracts with third party suppliers or tooling, and the kind of software, kind of recruitment software, all that kind of stuff. They handle that stuff as well, and that frees up my time because I’m not always in meetings or calls and having to go and negotiate all this kind of stuff.
Jay Tulloch: It also frees up designers time, so that they can focus on those large problems. So I think the sooner you have people onboard, that are competent in the area, then the better because what’s going to end up happening is you’re going to be able to test more regularly. Your designers will have the hunger to test more, because it’s not so much of a burden on their every day design work effectively. It’s not something, which is getting in the way of the project delivery either.
Jay Tulloch: So what that means is that, they might have to take out a few days to facilitate a session, but they don’t have to take out the days or the hours-
Sandro: Before, yeah.
Jay Tulloch: … Organizing. And that’s valuable time, which is imputed in creating the best solution possible for customers. And that’s the end goal really.
Sandro: Right, it could also even be that you hire someone part-time in the beginning, if you don’t do that much research. But it also has a ripple effect. Once you’re starting doing more research, you also get taken more seriously, where you, as before, what are you spending your time on and then you see that a lot of it is exactly like logistics, contract, NDAs and you have to sign all this kind of stuff, for sure. Awesome.
Sandro: And then, we were talking a bit before we went live about the challenges that you are currently facing, which I think it’s interesting, not only, you mentioned communication and growing the team as two challenges. Can you talk a bit about those and also how you’re trying to alleviate them.
Jay Tulloch: We’re a blended team at the moment. We’re a team of permanent and in-house designers and also contractors as well. And that’s due to the amount of scale that we’ve had to go through, in order to deliver these project initiatives.
Jay Tulloch: That brings with it challenges in terms of design consistency, making sure we have consistent experiences across all of our platforms and initiatives that we’re trying to deliver into next year. That means that we have to have a consistent filing structure, we’ve got to make sure that everybody knows where everything is, where it’s supposed to be if somebody rolls off a project and somebody new comes in, where they pick up all their stuff. Whether they get all of that, they can use the research from.
Jay Tulloch: So it’s just about establishing always working, and what works well for us. I’m not sure why anyone who’s familiar I suppose in working with software developers within Agile kind of Scrum methodology. People, they tend to have a technical design authority for example, where they’ll review all of the codes before committing. Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s always been that way, there’s always been a TDA and there might even be a BDA like a business design authority, but I’ve never seen a design authority. A design, design authority. So we created one, we created a UXDA, UX design authority. And what that has allowed me to do is have oversight over everything that’s going on, and identify early any inconsistencies in our patents, any inconsistencies in the experience, or in our UI components before we’re actually committing to build.
Jay Tulloch: We have teams that are working initial, so not all of our teams are based in the UK. We have teams in London, we have teams in Scotland, working remotely from Scotland and Ireland. So, things can very easily go off on a [crosstalk 00:21:49], diverge from the consistent design that we are driving for. So the UXDA has been really fundamental to us keeping that consistency going.
Jay Tulloch: Now, I’m not saying that it catches everything, but it catches enough that as a customer, if you move from one platform to another, or if you start off an application for an overdraft, and you go into your mobile app and as you continue the application, for example. That you can’t tell that there’s an inconsistency. We’ve managed to capture all of that stuff and keep track of it. Anything that is identified gets added to the backlog.
Jay Tulloch: So this is something, which we are continuing to mature and refine, and we have people at lead level on the projects to help to govern on the project level too.
Sandro: And in terms of communication, especially if you have also people working remotely or in other offices or how that works, what kind of tools are you using? What are you communicating on? What kind of meetings do you have? Do you have all hands with everybody or how do you structure that?
Jay Tulloch: Yeah, in the early days, we’d have regular design team meetings where we would all get together and think about problem, have design critiques as well, collectively. It’s very hard to do that with 25 designers, it’s very difficult to get everybody in a room. Some people are off testing, some people have a project that [inaudible 00:23:37], that kind of stuff.
Jay Tulloch: One thing we do, we commit to, is we have a regular weekly stand up, where everybody goes through what their priorities are for that week and we start to share any knowledge that we may have that might help individuals within the team, and at that moment in time. We also have other sessions through the week, which is more discipline orientated. So we’ll have a UX workshop, which really focuses on the patents that we’re using, and how certain components and elements will behave, or should behave. Once we’re happy with that, then that goes into a UI workshop and we have that visual communication layer on top of that. And then we’ll have a wholistic team workshop where we refine it all together and then we commit it to our design library or design system. So that forms part of how something should work. So anyone new that joins the projects, they know exactly what patent to use and work exactly how it should do.
Jay Tulloch: Those are our key meetings that we tend to have. We also have some design team meetings where we keep an update on where we are with recruitment or tooling as well, where we are with testing. So, we do still meet quite regularly, but it’s more, I suppose there’s less blue sky kind of thinking and we have that 20% for innovation. It’s more how do we push the team forward. How do we make sure that we’re still raising the bar with design within the bank.
Jay Tulloch: In terms of file sharing and that kind of stuff, I work for a bank. A bank has legacy tools and software. A bank that has fraud, compliance, procurement departments, it’s very difficult to get the communication channels that we would like. For instance, I know that a lot of [inaudible 00:25:39] banks are using Dropbox for example. Very difficult to get Dropbox signed off over a bank. But we do use things like Slack as well, Slack is fine.
Sandro: So you got one win in.
Jay Tulloch: We got one win, and I’m going to allude to this on my talk next week as well, that you will take some losses, but there will be some wins as well. And you do have to take the wins as they come and Slack was a major win for us, it keeps us all tight in the loop in what we’re doing.
Jay Tulloch: We’re also big fans at the moment of Atlassian, Confluence and Java, and that’s where we store all of our findings. That’s where we store the outcomes of UXDA sessions as well. So the UX design authority, we use Confluence to track progress on design tickets in Java, and all that gets put through the design authority page and we basically discuss those stories and where we are with those stories and how they’re forming. Any challenges that are coming up, any inconsistencies we can kind of outline and point them out. It’s a really good way to go [inaudible 00:26:54] the overall design output across the team and just ensure that we’re doing the right thing at all times.
Sandro: Now, in all of this, if we take a step back. What do you see your role is as a leader? Where do you see yourself in the whole organization, or let’s say, in the UX department? What’s your job? When have you done your job right?
Jay Tulloch: My job is effectively to … So, I allude to this in the talk as well. It’s about a mindset shift, so you shift from a place of responsibility, where you’re responsible for the solution of the product, to a role of accountability. So I’m accountable for the effect of the software product, when it’s launched to market, do customers love it? Is it consistent with our brand and kind of what we believe our values are.
Jay Tulloch: And when you shift your mindset to accountability, the role of a head of design is effectively make sure that the wheels keep moving. People are happy within the teams that they are, and the work that they’re doing. And making sure that they actually have everything that they need in order to be effective in their role. That takes priority over everything. And just making sure that you’re providing valuable insight to your team and you’re also spreading the good words and providing that design challenge at exec level as well. I’m just going to have these conversations and making sure that the design team are heard, our concerns are heard, our progress is heard, the challenges that we’re facing are heard, all that kind of stuff. I have to be that voice that channel through.
Jay Tulloch: That is a massive shift, because you’re not necessarily at whiteboards sketching or within your notepad anymore. And that’s something to be mindful of going into it. But predominantly, that is my role. Its just to make sure that we have everything that we need to do our job really, and going to deliver excellent experience to the customers.
Sandro: Do you miss the design aspect of your job, or do you still get a few hours in every week, where you can sit down and do some design work yourself? Do you have some side projects or, do you miss it?
Jay Tulloch: Yeah, I think I definitely think I went through a few months, probably about six months without touching a sketch or Envision, or put anything to Envision. That is quite a difficult shift, especially being a creative. And what I found with the UXDA sessions, is that it allows me to think creatively again. So it’s almost like a UX kind of critique or a UI critique session. It allows me to look at the problem and start to apply my spin to it, based on the context that I have across the business.
Jay Tulloch: So it’s a new way of designing for which I’m getting used to. Obviously being a designer, everyone has got to have a side project and then they might do outside their desk or at home as well, so that keeps me up to date with, I look at the latest trends, techniques, what’s the next update on Sketch, all that kind of stuff. So, I get to refine my skills, but just not on a daily basis. I do miss it, I’m not going to lie to you, but there’s a whole new challenge in front of me, which is equally as exciting.
Jay Tulloch: Effectively I’m not designing solutions for products, I’m actually designing a department, and that’s really exciting to be a part of.
Sandro: Can you talk a bit about, I like to ask about favorite failures of yours, where it was hard when you were in it, but then kind of reflecting and looking back, you learned a lot. Do one or two come to mind, like maybe your favorite failure if you want?
Jay Tulloch: Favorite failure?
Sandro: It can be in design or leadership.
Jay Tulloch: That’s quite a tricky one. I think I’ve failed in a sense where it’s been [inaudible 00:32:00] kind of screw up or anything like that. I’ve definitely learned along the way, especially in leadership, it surrounds delivery of your message, I learned something huge along my journey earlier this year around congruence and making sure that your body language and your tone of voice reflects the message that you’re delivering, especially when it’s the message of great importance that’s going to impact the morale of the team. And so that’s something, which I’ve learned that is essential when it comes to verbal communication with people. When you’re in front of people or a one to one basis. They actually understand what you’re saying, and know the importance of what you’re saying, and that you’re there for them, you’re there to help them along their journey too.
Jay Tulloch: So, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a failure, but I definitely recognize that in the beginning, I might not have been the best at that. And that’s something, which I’ve grown comfortable with, and delivering my message more effectively in terms of people understanding it and it’s going to help them on their journey.
Sandro: How do you give feedback, because I assume a lot of your job is actually giving feedback. What did you learn about giving good feedback?
Jay Tulloch: Giving good feedback, I think you need to be able to give feedback on the fly. So assume as you spot something, which is good, or could be improved, then call it out. And not necessarily, it doesn’t have to be public, it can be literally like to the side, and to say, oh, I noticed this. I really like the way you handled that. And so that keeps that constant communication between yourself and your team, while also informalizes it and makes it more like a natural conversation. People tend to take it in a lot better that way especially because it’s within the context of something that’s just happened or something that’s just been achieved.
Jay Tulloch: Something that I’ve learned, don’t wait until performance reviews to provide feedback for example, on something, which happened maybe a month ago, or two months ago. Give it as soon as you notice it and that’s the most effective way to do it.
Sandro: And staying with that topic of giving feedback, if it’s something, let’s say somebody screwed up, delivering a hard message, how do you deliver that? What goes through your mind? Also that, what you mentioned before, you call it congruence. How do you prepare for something like that?
Jay Tulloch: I’ve had these, I’ll allude to this on my talk as well. I’ve had difficult conversations with people where things have had to be addressed. I think the best way to do it is to understand that person and not categorize them, and stereotype them, put them in a box and make a judgment. I’m not a judge of them, I’m here to help and support them, and help them through anything that they might be going through. They might be going through some challenges I’m unaware of at that moment in time. They may be facing a blocker stressing them out, which is why they’re not performing as they could be.
Jay Tulloch: So my first protocol is usually to have this informal chat and just [inaudible 00:35:56] and say, I’ve noticed you’re not yourself, or I’ve noticed this happened the other day. Tell me about it. What’s going on, do you want to go for a coffee? Shall we find a room? Do you want to go for a walk? I’ve been on walks around the block with people, just having that kind of natural conversation and they’ll reveal what’s going on. You build up an empathy for that person and understand that actually, do you know what, there wasn’t anything that diminishes, it wasn’t something, which they did on purpose. They do want to do their best work, they do want to be the best that they can be, they just need a gentle push or support in order to do that.
Jay Tulloch: I think that’s very important not going on an attack, or with the mindset of judgment and you just need to really understand that person and empathize with their situation and see how we can actually improve on it as well.
Sandro: On the team level, did you kind of this, how do you say that? Come up with values that you propagate in the team and you’re living by, or is that coming top-down from the company itself, or do you have your own? How do you think about values and also while you hire, how do you make these kind of culture work like this design/research teams?
Jay Tulloch: So we do have values. We have values and we have principles. I’ll go through the values because they’re shorter [inaudible 00:37:39] … Our values are efficiency and simplicity, courage, quality, empathy and trust and honesty. These are our core values that we should hold at the helm of everything that we do when we’re producing designs for people.
Jay Tulloch: We also have principles, which reflect some of these values as well, if not all of them. And one of our major values is around trust and designing for trust. Being a bank, we’re handling peoples money, we’re giving people insight about their money, about financial management, all that kind of stuff. A very sensitive topic, very personal to people, how do we communicate messaging around that? How do we make the experience as smooth as possible so they don’t leave frustrated. How do they trust us to deposit their money and keep it safe for them. All of that kind of stuff.
Jay Tulloch: Let me talk you through them. Be inclusive. We’ve, especially this year, we’ve got massive focus on accessibility and making sure that we’re an inclusive bank and when we’re designing, we’re including everybody, or we’re thinking about everybody as we’re providing these solutions. Simplicity over complexity. Don’t overthink it, don’t think about every single edge case and create a complex solution. What’s the simplest part first, and then let’s build up with that. How can we get people through this journey as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Jay Tulloch: Design for context. Understand how the experience that we’re building affects other areas of the business as well, and how it might be able to integrate with other areas of the business to provide a better experience. So, where are our customers going to be when they engaging with the service, when they’re applying for a current account online. Are they on their way to work, doing it? Are they on their lunch break? Are they on their mobile phone? Think about the context.
Jay Tulloch: Don’t settle for less, is another one as well. We’ve got a quick line for that which is, design is a tool, but quality is the goal.
Sandro: Can you say that again.
Jay Tulloch: Design is the tool, but quality is the goal.
Sandro: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jay Tulloch: Evidence over assumptions as well, and that goes back to the whole research side of things. Everything that we should be doing, should be informed by data, whether it is qualitative data, quantitative data, we shouldn’t really be doing everything off gut feel. Yes, experience comes along the way and we do get to understand our users and behaviors by practicing design, but what we can’t do is just go off of gut feel every single time we need to gather some evidence to support us as well. And also makes design decisions more valid to the company.
Jay Tulloch: Harmony over chaos. That is effectively creating a cohesive experience and this is something, which I’m really proud of since I have headed the team over at Metro, is that we came from a place where we had very inconsistent experiences, and now when we do our monthly show cases and there are other departments, you can see our design language and patterns start to emerge and be reflected in the solutions that are being put forward by our team. So we’ve come a long way, and that’s something, which I’m proud of, is that we are creating this kind of harmonious ecosystem of design over at the company, which is fantastic.
Sandro: And are there certain things you’re actively doing to constantly instill, especially also to new people, since you’re hiring quite a bit, how do you make sure the people are understanding the values and are looking through the lens of the values as they’re designing or thinking about products?
Jay Tulloch: This is something, which we’re talking through at the moment with the team. And we’re making sure that we are communicating our values in the most effective way possible, so we’ve currently gone through an exercise where we thought through our values and said, are these the values that really reflect our design team and what we want to achieve as a team?
Jay Tulloch: When it comes to reflecting it to the wider company, one is through our showcases and reaffirming what these values are, and how they’re represented within the solutions. But also we’ve had them kind of upfront whilst we’re designing the solution. So we’re looking at the moment, having the cards, leaflets, that have our values and principles printed on them, that each team will have and put them on their desk, so that they can refer to them as they’re going through a solution for a problem. And just making sure that, it’s almost like a checklist in a way.
Jay Tulloch: I said harmony over chaos, is that reflected, and accessibility, is that reflected? So they can actually just go through it one by one and make sure that they’ve actually put [inaudible 00:42:57] into that.
Sandro: One thing that I saw once in an application process that I actually really likes was, there was a questionnaire that you had to fill out during the application, where it was like, “Please read our values and then mention the one that you think is going to be the hardest for you to implement, you personally.” And what it did was, it makes you reflect about your values and the company’s values and already in the application process, people are starting to think like that.
Sandro: So because I think, especially if you’re hiring so fast, it’s to kind of keep that all together, it’s probably a challenge.
Jay Tulloch: 100%, it’s definitely, we’re going through a recruitment at the moment and it’s definitely at the forefront of whoever we bring in, are they meeting those values, which are core to us as team. That’s very important for whoever we bring in as well. So yeah, 100%.
Sandro: Before I go into the one or two last questions from me, you can ask your questions, I actually forgot to mention that, but I saw Tamara mention in the chat. So there is a Q&A tab in the chat window where you can ask your questions and we’ll get to them in a second.
Sandro: Before we wrap up our part of the conversation, do you, you mentioned the principles before and you said they take a bit longer. But can you make an example of what a design principle is, and how you develop one, because I think it’s quite, principles are also quite powerful because you don’t need to constantly make the same decisions over and over, because you have established a principle of how you work. So, can you talk a bit about it?
Jay Tulloch: Yes. Effectively, a principle is what you hold yourself accountable for. It’s all about these are, what is important to us as a team when we deliver a solution to a customer. And when a customer logs on to one of our platforms and they’re greeted with an experience, how do you want them to feel going through it. And we ran a workshop over the summer to establish and to realign our principles, and that involves the whole design team and we basically outlined exactly what it was that was important to us at an individual level, when it comes to design and experiences.
Jay Tulloch: We put them all together and we actually found that, there were a lot of similarities in terms of our core values, which is a great first step. If there’s lots of disparity then, we’ve got a lot more work to do. But what we found is that we had a lot of similarities. So we found the groupings very easy. The next steps are effectively embedding those principles, like I said, you have to hold yourself accountable to them. But in order to do that, they need to be at the forefront of your mind all the time, and it’s just about how do we then do that? Do we have screensavers with the principles on them? Do we have those checklists that I mentioned before.
Jay Tulloch: But yeah, that’s the thing. First thing first, get everybody in a room, think about your personal values and collectively try and map them all together and see what you come out with.
Sandro: I think it’s a super important point. We went through something similar here at Testing Time over the past month, and we really realized how valuable the collaborative aspect is of actually getting to the values. Because what often happens is like, kind of slap the values on, where you say, these are our values, but it’s very difficult for the team to then identify with them if it’s not this collaborative experience, whether that’s principles or values.
Sandro: Okay, so maybe just a quick question before we head to the Q&A ones. Do you have any kind of resources, books that you can recommend, websites that helped you along the way? Does anything come to mind, and we’ll just put the links to them in the chat. Do you have any books like you give to your team or?
Jay Tulloch: Books, I think the best book that I’ve read this year is Julie Zhou, from Facebook. She’s the VP of design at Facebook and she’s got a book called Making of a Manager, which is absolutely fantastic. A lot of the situations especially around having conversations with your team and all that kind of stuff, she addresses that and articulates it really, really well and [inaudible 00:48:27] quite a friendly and conversational type way. And also an anecdotally as well. So that was really, really cool. I highly recommend that.
Jay Tulloch: I think anyone transitioning to management needs to understand the art of negotiation. So there’s a book called, Never Split The Difference, I can’t remember the author, but it’s a big yellow book, fantastic. You’re going to need to that, especially when it comes to the-
Sandro: It’s like a Bible.
Jay Tulloch: Yeah, especially when it comes to making that tooling and all that stuff. Since you assume that leadership position where you’re responsible for your department and there are budgets involved and all that kind of stuff. You need to be very acute and make sure you’re getting the best deal possible for your team as well.
Jay Tulloch: And so, two of those books, amazing. And also there’s a book, which isn’t necessarily a design book. It’s, I suppose you can call it a business book, but it’s called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Sandro: From Gary?
Jay Tulloch: Gary Vaynerchuk, and it’s an oldie, but a goodie. Just because it’s all about giving value and demonstrating that value, and before going in for the ask. A lot of people I’ve spoken to that have assumed leadership roles within design, they’ll be like, they don’t believe in research, or they won’t give us budget or they won’t allow us to hire. But what have you given to them? What have you given to the business that articulates that research is needed or of high value, or that it’s fundamental to the success of the business.
Jay Tulloch: If you haven’t given anything, and you’ve gone straight in, then you’re going to get a no, most of the time. And so it’s all about creating that value proposition around research, around design as a whole before you go in for the ask. And so Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, really, really good. So they’re my three off the top of my head. If there’s anymore, then I’ll share them as well.
Sandro: Yeah, so we usually put stuff, the resource source on our blog and we’ll send that link out as well. Where we also summarize the books that you’ve just mentioned. They’re also in the chat.
Sandro: Okay, so let’s go to the Q&A. We have Chavvy asking, did you have to convince people within the company of UX? Did you have opposition and how did you deal with that opposition?
Jay Tulloch: I have done in the past, had opposition. At Metro, my leadership team has been supportive, to be quite honest with you. The whole e-force of Metro Bank is around exceptional customer interaction and experience within our branches, which we call stores. And so, they already understand customer-centered approaches. So it wasn’t really that tough. I think in the past though, in order to get buy-in, it’s exactly what I said previously with Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Showcase that value, invite people to the sessions, key people that make decisions into those sessions and make sure that they witness some of the hardships that customers go through when using your products.
Jay Tulloch: That is fundamental to getting buy-in. They need to believe it, they need to see it in order to invest in it ultimately. And though you can’t do any better than having somebody in the room beating at something, which the execs think should be easy and natural to everybody. When they see someone [inaudible 00:52:18], they’re more committed to actually investing in research.
Sandro: How much of showing what you show is also backed up by metrics? How much, if you say you need to show what you’re doing, how much can you measure and do you measure?
Jay Tulloch: Yes, so again, we’ve gotten a lot better in measuring. We use online tools in order to measure how many people are getting through the journeys and all that kind of stuff. Obviously dealing with legacy systems and digital at the bank, it’s about 10 years old, design is three years old. So we’re still establishing, still tagging components and event checking and all that kind of stuff. So besides, to mature it more and more.
Jay Tulloch: The key for us in terms of metrics usually comes down to our [inaudible 00:53:23] testing sessions, our surveys as well, and how many people are dropping off through the analytical data that we do have access to. Just kind of providing that and presenting it to key decision makers around the business as well.
Jay Tulloch: One thing that I found key for myself, which I haven’t mentioned is, I’m doing a Master’s at the moment, so that Masters in non-designer related. It’s all around business, so it’s around financial management, accounting, it’s around proposition and product development and all that kind of stuff. And that’s opened up my understanding to the language of how businesses communicate and how businesses think and operate more better. So now I can position design in a way that is understandable, not just to the design team, because we get it. But also to executive stakeholders that might not understand some of our terminology.
Jay Tulloch: It’s almost kind of turned design outputs into numbers that people can understand and that has been really, really effective. So I do recommend understanding how propositions work, financial management and forecasting are very, very key models in order to turn or change the perspective of stubborn leadership and [crosstalk 00:54:48] as well.
Sandro: But I think you’re making a very important point that actually came up also in the past conversations on this series, where almost everyone is like, I actually had to learn about business because I need to speak the language of the people that I’m talking to. Don’t use the chart again and all this kind of stuff because it will just confuse people. I think that’s a very important point.
Sandro: So we have, how many researchers are working in your team in relation to 25 designers and how many would you recommend, I guess as a ration kind of thing?
Jay Tulloch: At the moment in terms of researchers, zero. But we have research, so research ops are the people that are handling the logistics, et cetera, that I mentioned before. The people who are actually doing the research are the UX practitioners, so they are skilled, they are facilitating these sessions.
Jay Tulloch: We are moving in the direction of having designated researchers and we are at the moment moving people into that position as well. So I think we should be having our first researcher in the team pretty soon as well, and they’ll be that constant loop of communication between us and the customer as well, and hopefully alleviate some of the time from our designers and projects.
Sandro: Yakub asks, do you have a recommendation for a one man UX team, plus a product manager in a startup? What to focus on, what would be the most important things at this stage to deliver good UX? I guess it’s kind of like rewinding and when you don’t have all the resources, what do you do? Is there a UX team of one?
Jay Tulloch: Cool, I’ve been that guy. I was that guy.
Sandro: There you go.
Jay Tulloch: Back in, I think it was 2011/2012, I was that guy. And so we had this kind of big government contract, and I had to, not only was I doing the design and the research and all that kind of stuff, I was presenting back to clients, I had to do the front-end development of it as well.
Jay Tulloch: So I fully understand where you’re coming from here. You just need to start working a lot smarter with your time. You only have so much time within a day, and that’s where prototyping really comes into effect. I’ve got, I’ve built a quite good reputation in terms of quality of my prototypes, and that’s just because I felt that prototyping was the most effective and efficient way to get a message across to potential clients, and/or current clients, and let them actually understand what it is that you’re doing.
Jay Tulloch: You can go straight into high fidelity because you have the luxury of being that designer of one, or team of one. It’s just you that has access to all the components and all that kind of stuff, so you already understand the behaviors and all of that. So, we can literally use those building blocks to go straight into high fidelity. Prototype a realistic scenario or a few scenarios and put that in front of clients, and test with people, or put that in front of users and test with people.
Jay Tulloch: That is very effective, it saves so much time as well. So, I think in terms of what you should focus on, if you are within a team that has a single product, for instance, a fintech for example, build out those initial building blocks and that will allow you to iterate things a lot faster, prototype a lot faster as well. If you’ve got many clients, then just build out a set of assets, general assets that you can use, that you can drag and drop into Sketch and exactly the same thing. Allow yourself to prototype a lot quicker, get familiar with Framer X if you haven’t done so already or a tool like Axure as well. When I was early on in my design career, Axure was the tool that everyone used and I become very proficient at that. Once you become proficient using these tools, your work rate will increase considerably and you’ll be able to churn these things like anything really. You’ll just be like water off a ducks back. And you’ll end up with a lot more time to focus on the interviews and the research itself.
Sandro: Awesome. I think that’s great advice. Last question from Mike actually. Hey Mike. The most challenging scenario you faced in leading your design team so far. We talked, I guess it’s not a failure but a challenge. What is, in leading overall, over the past couple of years or once?
Jay Tulloch: I think it’s keeping everybody happy. I think as a leader, that is very difficult. You’ve got, not everybody has the same character, not everybody has the same goals and ambitions for their career and their personal life as well. And working in a company, which is growing so fast, the environment changes very quickly as well and there’s lots of new people joining the team in a short space of time. And it’s just making sure that people are happy enough in their roles and that they want to continue doing great work and working to the best of their ability. They want to collaborate and get more involved. They don’t become distant from other members of the team, and also my focus isn’t shifting too much on others who are joining the team. I am giving enough time to every individual that works within design, and I make sure that they get the time that they need.
Jay Tulloch: That is the biggest challenge when leading the team for me. I think everything chaos, you can negotiate and navigate around establishing good quality processes and ways of working and file structures and that kind of stuff. But that one to one relationship, maintaining that as the company grows, as the team grows, is the biggest challenge, and something, which I’m continually working on too.
Sandro: And it also seems like, you mentioned before, it also seems like one of your main priorities, to actually, a successful week is a week where you have happy employees with intrinsic motivation to do their best work.
Jay Tulloch: 100%, and that is so important, and I know it’s not the easiest thing to do. Like I said, when you have a small team, my first year and a bit, we had a very small team, so that came quite naturally, that was quite easy to do those reports. When you scale up so quickly to a team of 25, your attention has to be divided 25 times, and that comes with its own challenges. You do become disconnected and how do you remain connected and how do you still build that rapport with individuals within the team to make sure that they get what they need from their careers as well.
Sandro: Beautiful. I think we are, we’re already six minutes over, but that’s okay. So, before we end this, where can people reach you? Can people write you, shoot an email, can people find you on Twitter? Where should people contact you if they have questions or just want to connect with you?
Jay Tulloch: Two main channels that I use are Instagram, so you can find me at j.tulloch on Instagram, very important, make sure you put it out, I want huge number. And also LinkedIn, I’m also very active on LinkedIn as well, so you can feel free to shoot me a message there as well. Both of those platforms I’m over the next few months, I’m creating content. So, as you mentioned, how am I staying in the loop of design and making sure that I’m doing stuff, I want to start producing more content to help people off the back of my talk as well, next week. So, stay tuned to find more stuff in that area.
Sandro: For sure, and actually speaking about the talk, I promised you the discount code, I think tomorrow we’ll put it into the chat window where you can get your tickets. You have five days left, so get yours. And just maybe to quickly reiterate, so your talk will be about your first 600 days as a design leader. Cool. And that’s going to be on Wednesday.
Jay Tulloch: Wednesday. I think it’s at 10.40.
Sandro: All right.
Jay Tulloch: It’s literally the first talk on the Wednesday.
Jay Tulloch: No pressure.
Sandro: Make sure to check Jay out on the channel we just put in. Definitely use Instagram, definitely check out his Instagram, and do you have anything else that, kind of a message that you want to give to the audience in terms of, or a request you would make or something like that to end? What’s your message?
Jay Tulloch: My message is, we’re all in a journey through leadership. And you’re going to hopefully next week through my talk, you’re going to understand what it takes, what you need to be aware of when transitioning into a leadership position. Especially a big role as well, and what comes with it.
Jay Tulloch: But what I want people to take away is, make sure that you stay true to yourself and your core values too, because that’s what makes you a unique designer, and as well, kind of brings the best out of people. So, that self awareness is key.
Sandro: Beautiful. I think that’s a magnificent way to end this conversation. Jay, thank you very much, I really enjoyed it and I hope the audience listening in did so too. Thank you very much, and we’re looking forward to your presentation next Wednesday at UX LIVE.
Jay Tulloch: Me too. Me too. Thanks to everybody.
Sandro: Make sure to check it out. Cheers everyone. Thank you very much, bye Jay.
Jay Tulloch: Bye.