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Design System Challenges Exercise

Often the challenges related to people, organization’s structure, and the underlying processes are the hardest things any gives system faces. They’re also some of the primary reasons we’re building these systems for in the first place. What I’m trying to say here, is that it’s not enough to build a system. That itself won’t solve anything. You need to make an organization to adopt it and maintain it over time. Get people excited about it. Only then the system will start solving the things it was meant to.

This is why I tend to start any systems project by running a so called Challenges Workshop. This workshop is meant to reveal a lack of alignment and personal biases across teams. It has a tendency to show organizational challenges too, which is where the name comes from.

To run this workshop, I use a model that Jonathan Courtney describes in his article called “Lightning Decision Jam—solve problems without discussion.” The output of the workshop is a set of prioritized actions that directly inform the backlog of the design system.

Keep in mind that while the format of this workshop is very strict, things don’t always go like planned and you need to be ready to go with the flow. People will ask questions. There will be unexpected breaks. The important person you expected won’t be able to join. But that’s all ok.

Design System Challenges Exercise

  1. 1. Challenges Exercise
  2. 2. 12 minutes I. Write down problems
  3. 3. I. Write down problems • Things that cause challenges in day-to-day work? • Things that cause misalignment between marketing and product design? • Things that slow you down? • Things that we could/should do differently? 12 minutes
  4. 4. II. Present problems 5 minutes/participant
  5. 5. II. Present problems I. Explain the problem and why you chose it. II. Stick it to the wall. 5 minutes/participant
  6. 6. III. Select problems to solve 6 minutes
  7. 7. IV. Reframe selected problems 10 minutes HMW HMW
  8. 8. HMW HMW • Reformat problems to standardised “How Might We’s” • For example, if the post-it says “I have no idea what’s happening on ‘project x’” reformat it to “HMW make sure everyone stays in the loop with all running projects.” IV. Reframe selected problems 10 minutes
  9. 9. V. Produce solutions 1 minute/problem
  10. 10. • Write as many possible ways to tackle the How Might We challenge. Format is free, but has to be understandable. • We’re aiming for quantity over quality — later we can curate. V. Produce solutions 1 minute/problem
  11. 11. VI. Vote on solutions 10 minutes
  12. 12. VII. Decide what to execute 10 minutes IMPACT EFFORT
  13. 13. VIII. Turn solutions into actions 5 minutes ACTION
  14. 14. IX. Debrief 20 minutes
  15. 15. IX. Debrief • How did this feel for you as a participant? • Which problems stood out? Which are the most intriguing and exciting? • Do you see solutions that are clear no-go’s? • Did we forget something obvious? • Next steps…
  16. 16. Done! How’s everyone?