Design Management Models in the Face of Transformation

What does transformation mean? It is metamorphosis — it is messy and has a goal to create systems out of chaos. Triggered by ways of thinking, and then doing!

Who is this for?

  • Building a team in the future, or
  • Figuring out how to help transfer to the right place

If you are making the right decision for your team? Communication and trust! Are you prepared for the next transformation? Mindset paired with the right foundation.

Common language — design principles. 

  • Allow, as a team, to keep looking forward
  • Come together as a group and understand triggers for transformation
  • Allows for decision making and inspires as well

Essential to have a northstar to guide the team.

  • Building from scratch — lead on a team of one
  • Team expanded to 22 people
  • Freelancers vs Full-timers – giving a thought!

Working —

  • Cohesive team
  • High quality work
  • Trust and goodwill, growing in number and skills

Challenges —

  • Stakeholders saw it as slow-moving black-box
  • Focussed on deliverables — seen as service org and not as strategic partner
  • Prioritization was difficult

Not only about hiring super talented folks, but also to revise the plan — what will work best for the team. Thinking about other model types — centralized wasn’t working.

Brand Experience Team — Hybrid Model? Best of both models.

Design org in Product: Product Experience (Embedded Designer)

  • V1: Embedded
    • Designers partner with PM, become experts in unique area.
    • Eventually outnumbered; not able to execute design influence, put off discovery and research — which in design is a no no.
    • Compromised because of silos; disconnected goals, inconsistent experience for cross applications.
  • V2: Limited Embedding
    • Pairing designers – gave strength in numbers, gave opportunity to address cross-product initiatives.
    • Focus on design first, like accessibility etc.

Models of Working and Nurturing Team —

  • Design Pairs
    • Allow faster, more comprehensive and consistent outcomes
    • Tackle more than one design problem at a time
  • Bigger Problems
    • Focus on key projects
    • Designs can have greater impact
  • On-demand flexibility
    • Reduce uncertainty and time spent on managing turnaround
  • V3: Centralized product prioritization
    • Focus on why and what
    • Become truly customer-first
    • Break silos
    • Emphasis outcomes and metrics to track
    • Elevate quality of design artifacts

Key takeaways —

  • Design org design principles and align to higher purpose
  • Choose models of working to increase impact and agility
  • Break silos and build bridges
  • Nurture trust through communication – antidote to resistance
  • Transformation often starts with an idea, not with answers.

One team started off with centralized to hybrid, and another team started off with embedded to centralized. Doubts become fears, so steer them away and allow them to focus on outcomes of transformation.