Design operations, start-ups, company “purpose”, your career and building a team.

In this episode, we will answer listener questions about clarifying design operations as a discipline, advice for designers who want to run their own start-up, how companies can make their purpose real and not just a marketing-induced pipe dream, dealing with the fear that your best work is behind you, and where to begin to create a UX strategy for a company that’s never had one before.

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One of my favorite things to do are these shows where I am able to answer listener questions. I normally go through and create these shows in a vacuum so I love the moments when this is more of a conversation than a way one lecture. This show is built from questions people just sent me and some people who responded to my call for questions over social media. Disclaimer!* – so sorry if pronounce someone’s name incorrectly. I did it in the past, I always feel horrible when I find out I did but please know I’m now doing it on purpose.

Design operations

From Mehran Granfar

Would love to get you to clarify DesignOps as a discipline – would do us practitioners a huge favour. There’s far too much confusion with program / project management.

Also be good to get your thoughts on design systems in relation to DesignOps; specifically, whether or not an effective DesignOps strategy needs to include the adoption (or support) of a design system.

DesignOps is everything that supports high quality crafts, methods, and processes.

What designers should do – design
What designers can do – plan, budget, communicate, align

Design Ops usually happens as the team matures and needs to define what it needs to be successful.

What is driving this?

– Teams are growing larger

– Great designers are a rare commodity, and they know it. This makes recruiting more difficult than days past
– Product organizations are growing more complex, which makes structuring teams difficult
– Design isn’t a job you just show up to. Designers need to be developed, advanced, promoted, rewarded, and recognized

– We want our flying cars, meaning we expect that better experiences should have arrived by now. We insist on better design and better design outcomes.

A DesignOps practice is made up of three overlapping areas of focus.
– Business operations (legal, finance, etc)
– People operations (HR, community, rituals)
– Workflow operations (logistics, research, design systems)

When you need it
– You have craft specialization
– You are operating a team at scale
– Your design team needs a safe harbor

More at in the Design Operation handbook – You can read it here.

Company “purpose”

From Tom Briscoe

It’s hip for companies to “have a purpose” now. I give points to companies for attempting to grow a soul. However, what makes it real and not just a marketing-induced pipe dream? How might designers help? (Because we’re also enabling the fantasy otherwise!)

What makes it real?
– It is going to sound like the obvious answer but it will come down to if that purpose is real or bullshit.
– If employees believe it. If they bring it to life in how they do their work. If it informs decisions then it is real.
– If it just for show. If it something that is talked about but not supported. If it is something that people roll their eyes when it is brought up then it isn’t real.

How might designers help
– Cultural movement
– Culture and process
– Behaviors

If your best work is behind you

From Jarred Truschke

What if you’re afraid your best work is behind you, and you’ve already been as good as you’re gonna get?

It is a tough and honest question which I really appreciate. I’m at a point in my career where those thoughts have started to creep in for me too.

My answer is it is up to you if it is behind you are not. It is easy to give up and coast or you can rage against that. Get control of your career and your brand. Be deliberate about getting opportunities to do great work. Push yourself to keep learning. Push yourself to try new things and be uncomfortable.

Building a team

Lindsey Marie Gomez

What are the key roles to consider when building a UX team? How do you begin to create a UX strategy for a company that’s never had one before?

Key roles
– design
– strategy
– design ops

Design vs. creativity

Strategic problems

Use data to inform strategy

Involve people who are not designers in the design process.

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