Conference Program

The industry-defining event for people who build and manage design operations.

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n 2016 when we first launched the DesignOps Summit, the term “Design Operations” was still capturing the design community’s imagination. In the five years since then, we’ve climbed the maturity ladder common to many design disciplines and communities of practice: envisioning, exploring guiding principles and charters, defining, scoping, and mapping out the work, all while doing the work and planning the future of DesignOps.

The DesignOps Summit has been an essential and passionate community for the growth of the field; lead curator Kristin Skinner will review the DesignOps story and the Summit’s role in its evolution.

Theme 1: Establishing and Growing DesignOps

Getting started with Design Operations can be a daunting task. Considerations include what to call it, who should do the work, how to get funding, and what does success look like. We’ll begin by sharing examples and practical advice on how to establish DesignOps as a function and a role, and share practical advice and outcomes from those who have succeeded. We’ll be inspired by teams of one to teams that serve hundreds of thousands of customers, and you’ll gain practical insights and knowledge that you can apply in your own practice.

Getting started with Design Operations can be a daunting task. Considerations include what to call it, who should do the work, how to get funding, and what does success look like. We’ll begin by sharing examples and practical advice on how to establish DesignOps as a function and a role, and share practical advice and outcomes from those who have succeeded. We’ll be inspired by teams of one to teams that serve hundreds of thousands of customers, and you’ll gain practical insights and knowledge that you can apply in your own practice.

Team happiness is an important and oft-mentioned DesignOps metric, but we need to reframe how we think about it. No human* can “”make”” their team happy, and it’s folly to measure ourselves by that impossible standard. But what we _can_ do is create opportunities for our teams—opportunities to get weird, share freely, give feedback, encourage each other, and create their own team culture. And they get to choose whether and how they take advantage of those opportunities.

*If you are a literal kitten, you may indeed be able to *make* people happy just by existing.

You have heard of DesignOps. You know how it can benefit your team. Your designers are tired of chasing requirements and dealing with tooling. But you have no idea where to start with establishing the practice in your organization. This session will help you evaluate what parts of DesignOps you need to implement, and how you can start to introduce the concept to your team.

Break

Starting DesignOps at an org feels exciting and daunting at the same time. People who’ve given you the green light are as excited as you – so there’s a bit of pressure to make this work well! In this talk, I provide a “starter kit” of 10 tips for beginning a DesignOps program—the 10 foundational things I’ve learned from establishing DesignOps at my org. In the talk, Michelle includes how to prepare the program, manage expectations, ensure your success, and keep things sustainable for the long term.

Inclusive Design is a process, it is how we design. Adopting inclusive design means changing how we work, in our projects and in our everyday work habits. In the beginning it might be accidental, while at its best it is intentional and has operational support. Learn how we are making progress in our journey towards Inclusive Design at Intel. From the public goal that all user experience teams will be adopting inclusive design, to the real talk and challenges that happen within a team where everyone agrees with the goal, but they don’t know how to start.

Break

Sponsor Session

Most design operation professionals will have to make a choice: to work solely as an organization’s internal consultancy or play an additional role in scaling design capabilities throughout an organization. If teams focus on the former, how will they get better projects and collaborators from their organization? If teams settle on the latter, how will they navigate scaling their design capabilities? 

In this interactive workshop, we’ll discuss how teams can attract better internal projects and how to transfer essential capabilities, with a particular focus on co-creating and measuring successful outcomes. 

Join Andrew Webster, Vice President of Transformation at ExperiencePoint, to learn:

  • What tools can help facilitate your team’s journey 
  • How to start implementing scaling strategies
  • What successful outcomes look like

What makes us human in human centered design? How can we optimize our workflows to respect our participants?

Phil will talk through his experiences of creating inclusive research workflows which respect participants rights and agency and how they’ve managed to operationalize and scale them for hundreds of researchers around the world.

All organizations have a design operating model. But not all organizations are intentional about creating it. It gets established by accident. Design gets fitted around other priorities of business or technology. As a result, organizations struggle to create valuable experiences for customers.

This is why organizations need to design their design operating model.

Trivia Night!

Join us for a Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz! We’ll have four rounds of the finest trivia in the land, safe and socially distant in a virtual format. You’ll team up with your colleagues and play against other colleagues on topics such as pop culture, music, history, food and drink, and some other surprises!
All you need is your web browser to play. Links and instructions will be provided two days before the trivia event so you can join in the fun!

Join us for a Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz! We’ll have four rounds of the finest trivia in the land, safe and socially distant in a virtual format. You’ll team up with your colleagues and play against other colleagues on topics such as pop culture, music, history, food and drink, and some other surprises!
All you need is your web browser to play. Links and instructions will be provided two days before the trivia event so you can join in the fun!

Theme 2: Successful Outcomes for DesignOps Teams

Once leadership buy-in has been secured, the team staffed, and initial wins are confidently put on the board, the art and science of honing an ever better DesignOps team kicks in. DesignOps leaders must hold fast to effective norms as the team scales, persuade peers and partners with increasing finesse, and, of course, continue to deliver remarkable outcomes. On Day 2 of DesignOps Summit, join us as we learn from the hard-won wisdom of maturing DesignOps teams, including: tools of the trade, scaling strategies, deploying standards and systems, staffing models, and more.

Once leadership buy-in has been secured, the team staffed, and initial wins are confidently put on the board, the art and science of honing an ever better DesignOps team kicks in. DesignOps leaders must hold fast to effective norms as the team scales, persuade peers and partners with increasing finesse, and, of course, continue to deliver remarkable outcomes. On Day 2 of DesignOps Summit, join us as we learn from the hard-won wisdom of maturing DesignOps teams, including: tools of the trade, scaling strategies, deploying standards and systems, staffing models, and more.

We believe cross-functional team collaboration delivers value faster for users and organizations. However, it’s not always obvious what exactly cross-functional collaboration actually looks like. What practices are necessary to the team’s success? How do you measure team performance? As a developer and a designer, we have direct experience working together and leading teams on truly cross-functional product design and delivery. In our talk, we’ll provide specific examples of what that kind of collaboration can look like, while sharing some of the values and principles that have motivated us.

TIn their first 60 days at Zendesk, Briana and Christina, a 2 person design ops team, conducted a Program Manager Audit looking at these 3 key areas: People, Process, and Portfolio.

90 days later, Product Design has transformed from a siloed, disjointed team into a well-organized, collaborative environment with a unified tool strategy, inclusive team spaces and more focus on design craft.

In this talk you will learn how to not only conduct a thorough and data-centric Program Manager Audit, but how to come in H.O.T. (Humble, Orchestrated, and Timely.)

Break

DesignOps takes the lead to author our internal career matrix, so we can objectively and uniformly refresh each discipline, and establish org-wide skills echoed throughout each role. DesignOps at Salesforce is also included within these Career Competencies, allowing for our team to hold more consistent career discussions, and unifying promotions by leveraging the same language when discussing each DesignOps employee. Plus, since DesignOps is seen as a fairly “new” discipline, having it paired alongside more “well-known” disciplines (Designer, UX Engineer), elevates the understanding of our role and skills, and provides a baseline paired alongside our peer’s disciplines. There’s great power in language, and the words we choose to use makes an impact. Making conscious efforts on our word choices and communications with one another can affect change at both the individual level as well as team-wide.

This session will detail how we are capturing metrics on product development and resource allocation. We will discuss how we are capturing people’s time on task to get us to a standard set of recipes that we can use when planning and budgeting for new products. We will discuss how we captured and identified tasks that could be handled by a 3rd party offshore vendor to free up our in-house designer who needs to be focused on strategic and innovative work.

Break

Sponsor Session

Most design operation professionals will have to make a choice: to work solely as an organization’s internal consultancy or play an additional role in scaling design capabilities throughout an organization. If teams focus on the former, how will they get better projects and collaborators from their organization? If teams settle on the latter, how will they navigate scaling their design capabilities? 

In this interactive workshop, we’ll discuss how teams can attract better internal projects and how to transfer essential capabilities, with a particular focus on co-creating and measuring successful outcomes. 

Join Andrew Webster, Vice President of Transformation at ExperiencePoint, to learn:

  • What tools can help facilitate your team’s journey 
  • How to start implementing scaling strategies
  • What successful outcomes look like

This session is focused on developing an understanding of how knowledge repositories can lead to deep insights in businesses large and small. It will explore the problem space and present strategies for overcoming those problems. Some example problems knowledge repositories can solve are: missing out on valuable information that can be useful across the company due to silos; repeating research that has been conducted already and inconsistency in research reporting.

This presentation begins with a case study of one of the groups within Adobe that has vertical and horizontal staffing needs, and then explores the benefits of dedicated staffing vs. agency staffing and how we approached a hybrid model. I then end with an open discussion about staffing models and the challenges team face when determining how to staff their groups.

Break

Wrap-up

Cooking Class with Chef Sohui Kim

Join your fellow Design at Scale 2021 conference attendees for a hands-on cooking class with Chef Sohui Kim, making her famous “Throw-Down Dumplings” long featured on her menu at The Good Fork Restaurant in Red Hook.

Join your fellow Design at Scale 2021 conference attendees for a hands-on cooking class with Chef Sohui Kim, making her famous “Throw-Down Dumplings” long featured on her menu at The Good Fork Restaurant in Red Hook. Chef will share cooking tips, basic knife skills as she cooks along with you, guiding you every step of the way to make delicious homemade dumplings.

Get the recipe and be sure to stock up on ingredients before Thursday!

Vegetarian? We’ve got you covered; get the recipe here.

Theme 3: The Future of DesignOps

The Design Operations field has reached a new level of maturity. We’ve moved from defining and advocating for the role’s existence to pushing the boundaries of all that the domain might include. On Day 3 of Design Ops summit, join us as we consider where and how the practice will grow next. Career journey frameworks, future pathing, sub-specialities, analogous organizational roles – we’ll consider all of this, and more, as we explore and define the future of Design Operations, together.

The Design Operations field has reached a new level of maturity. We’ve moved from defining and advocating for the role’s existence to pushing the boundaries of all that the domain might include. On Day 3 of Design Ops summit, join us as we consider where and how the practice will grow next. Career journey frameworks, future pathing, sub-specialities, analogous organizational roles – we’ll consider all of this, and more, as we explore and define the future of Design Operations, together.

DesignOps has been maturing in recent years and the adaptation of the practice has increased. With data from over 200 companies from all over the world, we are taking a deep dive into how DesignOps professionals are structuring their roles and/or teams in different companies. We are learning all about their impact, tools, and practices, as well as how are they adapting to the new normal, and how they are tackling social issues.

Break

DesignOps and Content Strategy: Envisioning the Future Together

Whether you have an established DesignOps team, or you’re just getting started, learn how creating a structure where content strategists operate can go a long way in supporting the strength and longevity of your practice. Learn about the components of the content strategy practice blueprint, how to measure content strategy maturity and understanding within your organization, and determine the best way to incorporate the discipline of content strategy into your future state goals.

We will see how we developed a design maturity model, adapting models from invision, McKinsey and papers measuring design impact from IBM to our particular context, in order to discover the main growth opportunities we had in our design practice and how we used outcomes/OKRs to define a detailed strategy for the designOps team.

Break

Does building your DesignOps practice feel like a steep (but rewarding) climb? Maybe you’ve set your sights on a mountaintop, reached that peak, looked around and wondered, “Cool! But where do we go from here?”

This session is for established DesignOps teams starting out on their journey to reach greater heights. How do you spot your next growth opportunity? What roles will get you there? What services can DesignOps offer to adjacent design functions at your company? How can other Ops practices, like BizOps or DevOps, help chart a path to your next peak? Most importantly, we’ll examine how to scale up when you’re always operating sideways, and how adopting a beginners’ mindset (and an explorer’s heart) will help you seek the right opportunities to grow your discipline.

Break

Feel like foresight is best left to economists and business strategists? Think again. Fight your imposter syndrome to harness the power of futures-thinking in your design organization to imagine and pursue preferable futures in how you work, what you produce and even in your personal life. You do not have to stop the world to look, think and act – make the futures mindset a natural habit and make small actions today turn into a better world tomorrow.

Wrap-up