Notes on Dave Malouf’s UX Strategy for Design Leadership: A 4-Step Guide

(From a post on, link here)

Design leaders can’t make assumptions and expect to reach goals

Design leaders need to:

  • Have a Purpose and set goals for achieving it (like hiking to the top of a mountain)
  • Identify an objective (the Peak)
  • Determine the best Path to reach that goal
  • Create a Plan with a strategic framework

5 core elements of strategic frameworks are:

  1. Purpose: What I am climbing? Is the goal clearly stated and understood? Validated as worth pursuing? For whom? Does the team understand their goal’s purpose?
  2. Peak: Pick a destination or at least a general direction, your “North”
  3. Path: How you get there matters—financially but also how the org matures in the process
  4. Point: Moment to pause, analyze, measure. Regularly confirm and/or adjust goals and your path
  5. Plan: Expeditions need tactics—the right training and equipment. Possibly other people. Does everyone know where you’re going? The path is not a collection of tactics but a strategic framework that you constantly re-evaluate to stay focused

How to get there: 4-Step Guide

  1. Purpose and Peak

    • Purpose is the first thing you define; a vision of your intended outcome
      • Why are we here?
      • What value will we create?
      • Who benefits? Why will they care?
    • Peak clarifies your purpose
      • Elaborate the pain felt if you fail
      • Demonstrate one way to solve the problem
      • Show how the solution adds value for users
      • Propose a realist method of getting to a solution
      • Make sure the peak encompasses emotional and tangible merits—an entire experience rather than just features
    • Dave’s example: at Backspace, he lead a “managed cloud” initiative
      • A cross-functional team dove into what “managed” means and deconstructed it to find real values for customers
      •  Then each team member created a story with a customer with a scenario that reflects the new value. They explained what what wrong and how to improve it. Telling negative stories against a brighter future helped the Purpose become more relevant and approachable
      • The shared their story across the org as a short photo essay with voice narration—a vision prototype
      • Stakeholders gave great feedback after viewing it
      • They connected user research to their story and got great buy-in


  1. Charting Your Path

    • Closely consider your org’s culture, business, competition, capabilities etc
    • SWOT analysis
    • Culture Map by XPLANE
    • As you evaluate, consider these criteria:
      • How much tech and UX debt are we creating? How can we pay it off?
      • What other projects need reprioritization to accommodate our project? What’s the cost to the org?
      • How much time do we get to periodically validate our assumptions?
      • Are we allowing enough time for stakeholders to understand and engage?
  2. Creating Evaluation Points

    • Try the cognitive process OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) at a stopping point to allow for:
      • Data collection, analysis and reflection
      • Synthesis of a set of hypotheses and evaluation of their value
      • Ammending existing plan based on new insights
      • In Agile, you could add an extra sprint at the end of an epic for this
  3. Plan to Validate Assumptions

    • To create a plan, work backwards from “What do I need to achieve this?”
      • Create stickies for the beginning and the end on opposite ends of a wall
      • Start with the outcome and create a sticky for each prior step until you reach the beginning
      • Use the stickies to create your backlog


About Dave (from For more advice, download Dave’s free Guide to UX Leadership from

Dave was mostly recently the Principal Experience Strategist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise where he helps create a viable insights and strategy practice based on empathy and data analytics. He has worked in front-end design for the past 20 years. In his previous role at Rackspace, Dave lead the interaction design team as a Sr. Manager of Product Design. His other roles have included senior UX positions and leadership roles at Motorola and Intralinks. Dave is also an active speaker and writer. His work has been published at,,, and as well as in print for Interactions Magazine. He has spoken at IDSA, Interaction, IA Summit, UI Conf, and have taught workshops for private corporations and local UX organizations around the world. He is also the Founder of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), program co-chair of Rosenfeld Media’s Enterprise UX conference, and a former Professor of Interaction Design at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s