Rachel Maple, Sr. Manager, DesignOps at Nutanix: “What is the significant difference in role and responsibility for Design Manager (or Head of Design) and DesignOps Manager?”
There was a good high-level summary of the expectations of the roles outlined by Andy Budd recently. I think this a great assessment of how the roles should play out. Clearly there is a need for clarification around these titles, and their roles, and responsibilities.
To add to this I would define Design Operations and the Head of Design roles as being inextricably tied, complementary. Design leadership is generally focused on craft, vision, and pushing the boundaries of how the design team thinks about the design work using customer experience as the foundation from which to grow. By operationalizing design and aligning teams, DesignOps streamline workflows and pave the way for happier, better, and more effective designers driving towards the shared goal of a better customer experience.
I would redefine what you have outlined for DesignOperations as:
People: This area focuses on all things employee experience considering the entire designer journey from recruiting to off-boarding.
Practice: This defines the areas in which designers develop and level-up skills and apply methodology and rigor to program and project practice. Communication strategy also plays a big part in this such as how do we communicate, when, and to whom.
Platform: Applies to all operational efficiencies such as talent management, planning/prioritization, roadmaps, schedules.
I would also argue that culture is the absolute lynchpin that holds all three of those together. “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast” is a universal moniker for a reason. The relationship of parts to the whole and how they aligned to the mission and company values in practice are what sets the stage for a functioning organization that is ready for change to be received.
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