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From Startup to Stable

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What does it take to transform a new design team into a well-oiled machine that’s creative, passionate, and productive?

Whether you’re a new team in a large corporation or a seed-funded startup, there are all kinds of added challenges that aren’t necessarily part of the design process. How do you demonstrate the value of design to an organization who has never worked directly with an interaction designer? How do you find the right cadence for your work and the right balance in responsibilities? How do you share the process without losing control of design as a specialty?

I’ll share a few stories from my experience building a team of designers at American Express Serve, including our approach to making great work and how we’re tackling the wide open possibilities that come after achieving stability.

Published in: Design
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From Startup to Stable

  1. 1. From Startup to Stable From Startup to Stable Katie Koch, Design Director American Express, Enterprise Growth
  2. 2. From Startup to Stable My team is special.
  3. 3. From Startup to Stable
  4. 4. From Startup to Stable
  5. 5. From Startup to Stable
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  11. 11. From Startup to Stable
  12. 12. From Startup to Stable Fix a Problem It isn’t good enough to just bolt a bunch of features onto a product and say “voila!” Building it does not mean they will come. Every product should be viewed through the lens of “what problem does this solve?” If it doesn’t solve a problem, don’t do it. If it won’t improve the lives of a user base, don’t do it. Best in Class. Or Go Home. Why do it if it isn’t great? “Meh” isn’t a strategy. “Me too” is a waste of time. Things are moving too fast to settle for middle of the road. Resist the impulse for death by slicing – a little fee here, a loophole there – the incremental surrenders that stack up to a bad experience. Not everything will be perfect out of the gate, but the goal is to create something that is better for consumers than anything else in market. Be excellent.
  13. 13. From Startup to Stable Fix a Problem It isn’t good enough to just bolt a bunch of features onto a product and say “voila!” Building it does not mean they will come. Every product should be viewed through the lens of “what problem does this solve?” If it doesn’t solve a problem, don’t do it. If it won’t improve the lives of a user base, don’t do it. Best in Class. Or Go Home. Why do it if it isn’t great? “Meh” isn’t a strategy. “Me too” is a waste of time. Things are moving too fast to settle for middle of the road. Resist the impulse for death by slicing – a little fee here, a loophole there – the incremental surrenders that stack up to a bad experience. Not everything will be perfect out of the gate, but the goal is to create something that is better for consumers than anything else in market. Be excellent. “You’re the ones who use the plotter… and post-its!”
  14. 14. From Startup to Stable
  15. 15. From Startup to Stable “Design is really cool!”
  16. 16. From Startup to Stable
  17. 17. From Startup to Stable Design intrapreneurs Business owners of design
  18. 18. From Startup to Stable
  19. 19. From Startup to Stable What are the choices we’ve made that helped us get from a startup design team to a stable in-house team?
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  28. 28. From Startup to Stable Our Guiding Principles We Collaborate! We’re User Centered! We are Process Driven!
  29. 29. From Startup to Stable Our Roles
  30. 30. From Startup to Stable Our Design Process
  31. 31. From Startup to Stable
  32. 32. From Startup to Stable Doesn’t have to be proprietary or unique. If it’s clear, people will remember it. There’s no right or wrong, only what works for your team and how you want to work. Process
  33. 33. From Startup to Stable Activity Cards
  34. 34. From Startup to Stable Design Principles
  35. 35. From Startup to Stable
  36. 36. From Startup to Stable Design Templates
  37. 37. From Startup to Stable We make time to build the foundation and share it with others so everyone knows the rules of the game.
  38. 38. From Startup to Stable
  39. 39. From Startup to Stable Get in the zone
  40. 40. From Startup to Stable We work differently.
  41. 41. From Startup to Stable Adapt to changing needs
  42. 42. From Startup to Stable Hire the best, most awesome people you can find.
  43. 43. From Startup to Stable MAVERICKS!!
  44. 44. From Startup to Stable Everyone shares, teaches and learns. Weekly XD meeting devoted to the practice of design. Always be learning
  45. 45. From Startup to Stable Code share!
  46. 46. From Startup to Stable Year end awards
  47. 47. From Startup to Stable Bring on awesome people who get excited about change. Reward them for acting like mavericks.
  48. 48. From Startup to Stable
  49. 49. From Startup to Stable Our charter is to make live products, not design deliverables.
  50. 50. From Startup to Stable
  51. 51. From Startup to Stable Keep stakeholders close
  52. 52. From Startup to Stable “Blow it up!”
  53. 53. From Startup to Stable Take small bets to enroll others in the process along the way.
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  56. 56. From Startup to Stable We say no if we don’t think the project will be good for users, or if we feel the design team can’t add meaningful value.
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  60. 60. From Startup to Stable It’s awesome to be an in-house designer!
  61. 61. From Startup to Stable Be smart about the business. Work on our partners’ schedules and cadence. Know our customer data. Consume
  62. 62. From Startup to Stable Go to fewer meetings. Be an advocate for the user. Be in person for design reviews. Influence
  63. 63. From Startup to Stable Design Toolkit
  64. 64. From Startup to Stable
  65. 65. From Startup to Stable Consume vs. influence is a choice.
  66. 66. From Startup to Stable Today: A stable team
  67. 67. From Startup to Stable This didn’t happen overnight. It is the result of years of making active choices.
  68. 68. From Startup to Stable
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  70. 70. From Startup to Stable Email katie.koch@aexp.com Around the internet @pixelkated Thank you!

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