Featured below is a portion of the feedback I have received over the last few years from colleagues across every discipline within the company. In many ways, the positive commentary is one of the most rewarding features of a professional working environment—a good reflection of maintaining one’s course of building and maintaining great relationships with talented individuals. However, it’s the constructive criticism that uncovers the blind spots and allows for growth and refinement.
It’s been a pleasure to work with you very closely as a team in some of the projects this year like Fonts, Speller, SideKick, Quick Actions, etc. You are an awesome team player first. With designs, I have really loved your higher-level thinking of the feature - where you look at feature goals, user problems, and other details before diving into providing visuals. In addition, you also think a bit deeper on interaction design, which is missing in most of the designs I get. So this has been a big plus especially in projects like Sidekick and Quick Actions. Very innovative designs and thinking through deeply on areas you focus are some strengths of yours I really value a lot. Let’s continue to partner the rest of FY19 to ship some great experiences.
We overload you with lot of design asks, push us to give a priority to focus, and being flexible with changes and resources availability would help us move faster and also reduce randomization for you.
Your ability to step back and look at the broader design and user experience issues around incremental feature requests from dev and PM is a helpful reminder for me to step up out the trenches in my own daily work.
You are persistent in questioning basic assumptions, and you continue to advocate for the user and for product quality throughout the design process. You also make your design viewpoint and recommendations known in a non-confrontational and inclusive way.
Your passion around the typographic explorations has been great to see, and I hope you continue communicating your thoughts and learnings as we all continue to learn and develop a viewpoint for Bing going forward.
It would be helpful if you could continue to be as broad as possible with communication to facilitate ‘awareness’ as features are developed, decisions are made around flighting, and agreements are made in meetings. It’s tough to track the feature train, and it would help me if you could err on the side of over-communication, and I will try to do the same. We have a weekly sync which helps, but maybe more non-actionable emails would also help between our teams? I struggle with the most effective way to do the same…
Your openness and respect and humanity are something I really appreciate, and it makes my work days much more enjoyable!
It has been great working with you on Algo Block design. You really stepped in as the acting lead in your manager’s absence and drove design for Algo block with PM, dev and junior designers. You are very proactive about coming up with new ideas and solutions to new challenges faced by the team. You are creative and come up with impactful and good designs for new features. He also has many new ideas and I have always enjoyed brainstorming with you. There are many instances where you stepped in to provide timely designs to the team when working on crunch features.
This is probably general feedback to everyone in the design team to have more design-initiated ideas. Today our approach is mainly where PM/Dev come up with ideas for new rich captions and bring them to design. I think design team could also play a similar role where they bring new feature ideas that we could discuss together.
You are a great collaborator, very open to discussions, hearing others’ ideas, and making sure the design and feature teams are working towards a unified goal.
Your instinct of deciding when to step in vs. when you can trust your team and take a step back really stands out. From what I’ve seen with all managers across all disciplines, this is a really hard-to-master skill that you appear to demonstrate instinctively. And I know our team truly appreciates this, as it makes a world of difference translating to especially creative & productive design discussions. I saw how your and Xxxxx’s fluid working relationship enabled her to grow, exercise autonomy, and explore freely creative design directions. At the same time, you knew when to be more involved in adding guidance, such as on cross-team designs (i.e. visual systems collaborations) or bringing in another designer to help with the backlog.
In addition, your design ideas consistently impressed me. Your ideas helped push our team to consider new perspectives/ideas during design discussions. Often times, you were the one to take a step back and tackle overarching design themes (i.e. gestures) that propelled our discussions towards more innovative and cohesive themes. For example, in team meetings, you proposed the unique user research approach to tackling whole page cleanliness, an important org-wide problem to solve.
You also are quick to identify opportunities for collaboration or overlap between the problem that multiple teams are looking at. With Intent JO, I remember you were the first to quickly identify the potential overlap with Metis and helped make sure the team didn’t duplicate existing efforts.
Stepping in, you ensured design work continued smoothly even during your transition.
I know our team really valued both your balanced hands-off/involved approach to managing, as well as your unique design ideas and ability to tie back to other teams and design themes.
I’m sure I can speak for the team in saying we really hope you have the bandwidth/can still give your design input going forward!
It’s hard for me to say from such a newbie perspective, but it seems that after this reorg you still have a great opportunity to maintain and to continue to develop a leadership role on your new team. It might be more challenging working alongside more senior designers than myself, but I cannot imagine any teammate who would turn up their nose to a collaborator who has a genuine desire to put wins on the board for the team like you.
My suggestion would be to maintain that positive, there-when-you-need-me type of support you provided for me. It’s very stabilizing and reassuring.
You are a great collaborator. You also give room for others to speak and voice their ideas/concerns. If I’m honest, I think it’s one of the main reasons we fell into sync so quickly. Senior designers could easily talk over a brand new FTE, but you actively seek out my thoughts–I really value that.
However, very rarely (literally, just one or two instances), even though I had space to talk, I didn’t feel like you were really hearing me. This happened when you’re really enthusiastic about a new idea/a potential solution to a problem and I was attempting to rain on the parade (true to form, haha). I could have easily gathered that you found my concerns invalid–which I don’t think was (and didn’t take as) your intention.
Consider slowing down just a little. Instead of combating design concerns with a dismissal or attempts at a quick fix, maybe turn it around: “I see your point–how would you solve that problem?” sort of (canned corporate) response. :)
I really can’t express how much I appreciate the way you stepped up to mentor me as I came onto this FTE position. You were open and honest – both when giving me feedback on my work, but also in helping me navigate relationship building with my design peers and my partner teams. Entering into my first corporate full-time role without a direct manager could have been a very rocky experience, but with you, as my partner, it was energizing, challenging (in the best way), and very rewarding. I anticipate looking back on my entry to Microsoft very fondly – and I have you to thank for that.
It’s really great to work with you and here are some highlights:
You could work on trying to influence larger groups. I think you have a lot of great work done that’s not seen by a larger audience. You could benefit and our product could improve if you do that.
Two things to mention here: (1) Your open-mindedness when ideating. You never shut down an idea without thinking it through critically and from multiple perspectives. IMHO the ability to think about ideas from a user perspective and business perspective (often tricky) is a skill you’ve newly started demonstrating over the past couple of years. As a PM partner, I really appreciate this plus the space it creates for us to openly discuss the pros and cons of growth ideas and land on balanced solutions. And, (2) your partnership skills with an external partner. In the past year, you’ve helped me partner with Amazon and bring our design perspective to the table in those discussions. You are really fantastic and putting yourself in the shoes of this non-Microsoft team and engaging at the right level without presupposing that they understand our design and business. It’s been really valuable.
Both the skills I mentioned above are ones I believe you’ve cultivated over the past few years. I would love to see you apply these to more projects and mentor more junior designers on these skills. In short, I think you could leverage your skills more by applying to more projects across the board.
This is not a straightforward question to answer because I can’t think of an obvious improvement area here. Rather I found myself thinking about how your skills mentioned in the above section could be brought to more projects to widen your impact. I would encourage you to look for even more horizontal projects that span different teams.
This is a rephrasing of what I stated above. What I value most about working with you is your open-mindedness. A close second is your team spirit and demeanor - it’s just fun to riff ideas around and talk shop with you. Thank you for making work more fun!
Overall, it’s been a real pleasure working with Brian over the past year. I believe there is normally inherent friction between design and dev, as both have different visions and constraints. However, I feel like Brian does a really great job managing this, better than any other designer I’ve worked with. He makes sure to take input/feedback from dev/PM and is able to integrate it without compromising his design vision for the product. I also feel he’s done a really good job juggling tasks. He’s been asked to do a lot of work in a number of areas, and I feel he’s still quick to respond, and always takes time to talk through designs.
I don’t really have much constructive criticism. The only note I would make is that sometimes, I feel Brian goes deeper than needed in certain areas. His designs always have a lot of alternatives. This is good. It shows he’s really thinking hard about the problem, and it gives us a lot of options to choose from. However, I’m not sure it’s always a good return on investment. Each alternative takes him time to redline, and then time for us to discuss, prototype, and implement. Since Brian is definitely the design expert on the feature team, I think it would be great if he took the lead more and pushed a small number (maybe even one) of treatments. I realize this isn’t easy, as he’s probably getting input from management that I don’t always see, so I’m not sure it’s possible, but something to keep in mind.
Nothing really to add to what I said above. It’s always a pleasure working with Brian. I really feel he takes our feedback into mind, and I’m really happy with the design vision he’s laid out for our team.
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