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12 Qualities of Effective Design Organizations

It's not enough for a team to have great designers. Great design requires a well-run team, taking care of it's organizational, managerial, and operational needs. In this presentation, I outline 12 qualities of effective design organizations, and provide tools for assessing how well your organization is performing.

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The 12 Qualities of 

Effective Design Organizations
Peter Merholz
peterme@peterme.com
@peterme
Why are companies investing more in design?
Generates new business value Software is eating the world
Everything is, or is becoming, a service
All design is service design
The Three-Legged Stool
product/service
business
technology
design Adapted from Don Norman
2013-2014
Lost in first round of playoffs

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12 Qualities of Effective Design Organizations

  • 1. The 12 Qualities of 
 Effective Design Organizations Peter Merholz peterme@peterme.com @peterme
  • 2. Why are companies investing more in design? Generates new business value Software is eating the world
  • 3. Everything is, or is becoming, a service
  • 4. All design is service design
  • 6. 2013-2014 Lost in first round of playoffs
  • 9. Foundation 1. Shared sense of purpose 2. Focused, empowered leadership 3. Authentic user empathy 4. Understand, articulate, and create value Management 9. Treat team members as people, not resources 10. Diversity of perspective and background 11. Foster a collaborative environment 12. Manage operations effectively Output 5. Support the entire journey 6. Delivers at all levels of scale 7. Establish and uphold standards of quality 8. Values delivery over perfection 12 Qualities of Effective Design Organizations
  • 10. Foundation 1. Shared sense of purpose 2. Focused, empowered leadership 3. Authentic user empathy 4. Understand, articulate, and create value
  • 11. 1. Shared sense of purpose FOUNDATION
  • 13. We the People
 of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. We hold these truths to be self-evident, 
 that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
  • 14. Service Loyalty Honesty Integrity Purpose: Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel. To become the World's Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline. Vision: Values: Warrior Spirit Servant’s Heart Fun-LUVing Attitude Work the Southwest Way Dedication to every client's success Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships
  • 15. Sample mission statement for design teams We’re not here just to make it pretty. Through empathy, we ensure meaning and utility. With craft, we elicit understanding and desire. We wrangle the complexity of our offering to deliver a clear, coherent, and satisfying experience from start to finish.
  • 16. How well do people know what the design team stands for? Can they articulate its values? Purpose? Do they feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves? ASSESSMENT
  • 17. 2. Focused, empowered 
 leadership FOUNDATION
  • 18. Design Director Design Director Design Director Design Director VP of Product Dir of PM Dir of PM Dir of PM Dir of PM Who's the head of design? that guy
  • 19. A design team needs to be in charge of its own destiny, and this requires: Focused leadership with autonomy and executive access.
  • 22. Executive Access Head of Design Design Design Design VP of Product Dir of PM Dir of PM Dir of PM Dir of PM CEO
  • 23. Does design leadership have autonomy and access? Is design leading design? Can they shape their org as they see fit? Are they two or fewer rungs from the CEO? ASSESSMENT
  • 24. 3. Authentic user empathy FOUNDATIONFOUNDATION
  • 26. How deeply do people understand their users? How frequently are they exposed to users and 
 their efforts? What sway does qualitative data have? Are executives and other stakeholders making decisions based on this empathy? ASSESSMENT
  • 27. 4. Understand, articulate, 
 and create value FOUNDATION
  • 28. From Adaptive Path’s 2003 report Leveraging Business Value: How ROI Changes User Experience: Our research revealed that using ROI and other valuation methods helps to evolve design competency within organizations. The valuation methods provide tools for developing and measuring a design strategy as a component of a larger business strategy: The ability to “value” user experience design makes it a visible and credible business lever on par with marketing, research and development, and channel strategy. As a result, applying ROI measuring techniques to user experience investment decisions has a positive impact on how [design] teams are structured and perceived within an organization. “ ”
  • 30. Connect design with value through behavior Desired Behavior Behavior Metric Value Metric Financial Outcome× = Widen relationship Open a new account Actual financialservices clientexample $ per mo $13.5 mil per month Value of opening an account $45,000 per acct Number of accounts opened / mo 301
 per month Business
 Opportunity
  • 31. Is the team equipped to talk in the language of business and value? Do they recognize that it’s not about “design”, but instead design’s role in a larger effort? Value can be “hard” (conversion, engagement) or “soft” (brand representation). Is there a shared understanding of what success looks like? ASSESSMENT
  • 32. Output 5. Support the entire journey 6. Delivers at all levels of scale 7. Establish and uphold standards of quality 8. Values delivery over perfection

  • 33. 5. Support the entire journey OUTPUT
  • 35. management marketing design engineering manufacturing sales support adapted from Rob Brunner’s talk at 2016 O’Reilly Design Conference
  • 36. management marketing design engineering manufacturing sales supportmanagement marketing design engineering manufacturing sales support adapted from Rob Brunner’s talk at 2016 O’Reilly Design Conference
  • 37. management marketing design engineering manufacturing sales support management marketing design engineering manufacturing salessupport adapted from Rob Brunner’s talk at 2016 O’Reilly Design Conference
  • 39. One design team to tie it all together Software Products Hardware Products Environments Marketing and 
 Communications Interaction Design Information Architecture Visual Design Prototyping Industrial Design Wayfinding
 Interior Architecture Brand Identity Design Graphic Design Information Design Motion Graphics Packaging The Journey Service Design
  • 40. How capable is the team in delivering across the entire customer journey? How broad is the skillset? How are relationships with specialist vendors? How integrated is the team to all corporate functions? ASSESSMENT
  • 41. 6. Deliver at all levels of scale OUTPUT
  • 42. A team I inherited… CD CDCD CD CD CD CD CD UXR UXR UXR PjM VP PD PD PD PD PDPD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD
  • 43. 10,000 ft 1 ft 10 ft 100 ft 1,000 ft VP UXR UXR CD CD CD CD CD CD CD CD PjM PD PD PD PD PDPD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD PDPD UXR
  • 44. 1 ft Surface Typography, colour, layout, interface design, spacing, animation, transitions 10,000 ft 1,000 ft The Big Picture Integrated view of company’s entire offering, brand traits 100 ft Strategy Requirements, briefs, desired results, planning, vision, 
 campaign concepts 10 ft Structure Flows, service blueprints, wireframes, wayfinding, navigation, 
 brand standards and guidelines, visual language You need presence at all levels of scale
  • 45. With a breakdown something like this… 1 ft Surface Typography, colour, layout, interface design, spacing, animation, transitions 10,000 ft 1,000 ft The Big Picture Integrated view of company’s entire offering, brand traits 100 ft Strategy Requirements, briefs, desired results, planning, vision, 
 campaign concepts 10 ft Structure Flows, service blueprints, wireframes, wayfinding, navigation, 
 brand standards and guidelines, visual language 40% 5% 15% 40%
  • 46. How capable is the team across all levels of scale? How well is the Big Picture translated to the specifics? How capable is the team in engaging in matters of strategy? ASSESSMENT
  • 47. 7. Establish and uphold standards of quality OUTPUT
  • 48. Engineering quality:
 Uptime, speed of performance,
 number of bugs Design quality: Um…. I know it when I see it?
  • 49. Establish quality standards… Brand characteristics Experience principles Design guidelines Measures of success Exemplars of quality work
  • 52. Process is not a proxy for quality From usability.gov
  • 53. Just how good is the stuff produced by the design team? Is there a shared understanding of quality, and resources designers and others can refer to? Are designers able to maintain focus? Or are they spread too thin? How often have you said “No” to work not worth doing? ASSESSMENT
  • 54. 8. Value delivery over 
 perfection OUTPUT
  • 58. How productive is the design team? Remember: It’s not about design. It’s about design’s contribution to a larger effort. Is perfectionism getting in the way? How nimble and flexible is the team? ASSESSMENT
  • 59. Management 9. Treat team members as people, not resources 10.Diversity of perspective and background 11.Foster a collaborative environment 12.Manage operations effectively
  • 60. 9. Treat team members as people, not resources MANAGEMENT
  • 63. It's not about balance. It’s about sanity and fresh thinking.
  • 64. Do team members feel respected as people? Or just employees? Are they managed by job title? Or by whom they are? Can they bring their whole selves to work? Can they get needed separation from work? ASSESSMENT
  • 65. 10.Diversity of perspective 
 and background MANAGEMENT
  • 66. Understand the market Product Strategy Prototype Customer empathy Ideation Experience strategy Prototype solutions Flesh out solution Refine Sketch options Test prototypes User test Build Plan Ship Analyze Initial Insight
  • 69. That team… PD PD PD PD PDPD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD PD White men in their 20s Black man in his 20s White man in his 30s White woman in her 20s Asian woman in her 20s
  • 70. Different diversities Educational / intellectual Gender Race Ethnicity Geography Age Neurotypicality
  • 71. How broad are the backgrounds and experiences of team members? Is there diversity from educational, institutional, gender, race, and ethnicity perspectives? How well does the team avoid groupthink? ASSESSMENT
  • 73. Diversity is not enough; the culture must be inclusive.
  • 74. This doesn’t mean bland politeness Great design comes from tension and collision of different perspectives Perspectives shared through honest critique Honest critique requires candor For candor to not offend requires mutual respect Leaders speak last… if at all
  • 76. How supportive are the design team’s practices and environment? Do people work alone, or with others? How healthy is cross-functional collaboration? Can the team ‘get real’ with one another without incident? Are there spaces to support collaborative work? ASSESSMENT
  • 78. Does your team suffer these issues? • trouble coordinating internally, particularly around process, communications, and file management • difficulty collaborating with other parts of the organization • inappropriate staffing on projects and programs • lack of visibility into related work streams • duplicated efforts • non-existent measurement
  • 80. Annual planning ensuring adequate headcount Compensation packages that are fair for the market Adjustments to performance reviews to suit designers Facilities and IT to support collaborative work styles Policy changes to support real customer research Big “O” Operations
  • 81. How effective is the design team? Do people feel like they’re spinning their wheels, putting in a lot of effort but seeing few results? Are projects/programs appropriately staffed? Does the team have the resources they need to do great work? (Machines, devices, physical space) ASSESSMENT
  • 83. Peter Merholz peterme@peterme.com @peterme Thank you for your 
 attention and involvement!