Phase 2: From Learning to Execution

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Updated October 11, 2023
Land Your Dream Design Job

You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

This phase, you’ll start to shift toward execution.

Key objectives for this phase:

  • Learn about adjacent teams.

  • Continue building relationships with your immediate team.

  • Learn how your part of the system interacts with the larger whole.

  • Wrap up and retro your first project.

Learn Adjacent Parts of the System and Their People

As a product designer, your top priority is to create a seamless experience for the customer, not ship the org chart. This means you’ll have to signal to other teams where their work breaks in your part of the flow or where you see potential collisions occurring.

  • Full customer journey. In the first phase, you got to know your part of the system. Now it’s time to dive into the customer journey from beginning to end. Consider mapping out this experience by looking at the system from different perspectives: How does the experience look for new users? What about for intermediates or power users? If your product is on multiple platforms, consider capturing those as well.

  • Collision resolution. As you learn the system, you’ll encounter various problems and collisions in the experience itself. What process is in place today to get them resolved? Does the current organizational structure hinder or support cross-functional work? How can this be improved?

Develop Your Existing Relationships and Handle Conflict

In phase one, you kicked off relationships using the one-on-one format. Now’s the time to continue building relationships as you do the work.

  • Design partnership. As you dive into doing the work, you’ll play different roles, from leading and facilitation to coaching and support. Be on the lookout for how you can help support partners in research, data science, and engineering. Getting into the details of the work will help you pave the way for smoother projects and make everyone feel like they’re treated fairly.

  • Handling conflict well. It’s natural to encounter signs of conflict at some point, such as a teammate who disagrees with you and fights for their opinion or a PM who’s unwilling to let go of their pet idea. These are all par for the course. The earlier you get to your first conflict, the faster you’ll advance the relationship.

By focusing on first principles and understanding the problem, you can help drive productive discussions and turn conflict into a positive force. This way, you’ll consider different perspectives and make a well-informed decision.

Ship Your First Win and Do a Retro

When you wrap up your first feature, do a mini retro. What problems did you encounter? What did you wish you’d known when you started? By this point, you may be already working on another project. Apply the lessons learned from your first project here.

Phase 3: Accelerate Impact

By the end of this phase, you’ll be a trustworthy, well-versed insider who’s up to speed on process, team, and the inner workings of the organization. Your challenge will be to keep this momentum going.

Key objectives for this phase:

  • Become efficient.

  • You’re reading a preview of an online book. Buy it now for lifetime access to expert knowledge, including future updates.
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