Management vs. Specialization as UX Career Growth

Which career path is best to have maximum growth and impact in the U.S. field? Should you specialize or seek a management role? That’s how June Virtual You conference, Jacob Nielsen provided his thoughts on the matter.

I think actually there’s not a single answer to that. I think it does depend on the individual person. And but that’s exactly in many ways is an answer, because I think very traditionally speaking, the answer in old old school thinking was, well, you have to become a man. Or just like that’s your your promotion or your progression is to first become like a low level manager, then become a middle manager and become a hire manager and so forth. And that gives rise to this thing called the Peter Principle, which is that people get promoted, you know, because I do really good in this job. That means I get promoted to one more level. I do really good at this level. I get promoted one more level. I do poorly at this level and I don’t get promoted anymore. And you stay for most of your career at the level where you’re bad. And that’s called the Peter Principle. So that is the wrong way of thinking. I really I really think I think you have to think about some people are, in fact great managers, and that is really their skill. Other people are not and that shouldn’t pursue that career. So you really want to have what’s sometimes called a dual ladder system whereby people can progress in in those various ways and they’re equally respected and also in things like going to the salary and so forth are equally rewarded. I think that’s that’s really important. And so I can’t say I could give a general advice, a general recommendation about this. You know, it’s also the case that individual variability is so much larger than any kind of group differences that you can to say, well, if you’re this type of person, you should do this. Well, it’s really you, specifically you. And so that’s not something one can answer in general. But there’s definitely should. I think both both are really valuable. Both have the opportunity. I mean, you’ve become like a US architect, really thinking deeply about the longer term plan for the product line, the design standards and so forth, that a lot of things are not so specifically management, but they are more like leading the design agenda. That’s also why, by the way, at the conference room, we have two different courses. Why don’t we have a being a leader course and being a manager, of course. And you’ve got to differentiate between even though they’re almost synonymous in daily language, but they are actually different roles. And I think they’re both very valid. And yes. So I can’t actually the advice other than to say I do think both are things that you actually should consider and and just go by again, individual differences, your own personality. And don’t be guided by, like 50 years ago, the organization of man and the man in the great flannel suit, I think was the name of it, that kind of very old school, Madison Avenue or whatever, thinking.

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