We’ve been trialling the ‘design field trip’ — where we visit design teams in other organisations — as a way for us to learn how to grow and nurture design at Redgate.
This post explains how we organise these trips, what they entail and some examples of what we learned from our first outing to meet Facebook’s design team at their office in London.
If your design team is interested in a design field trip exchange with Redgate, get in touch. We’d love to show you around, explain how design works in our organisation and share with you what we know. Also, lunch is on us!
Design is a core part of what makes our products valuable to our customers. Like most, we make sure we’re applying design thinking as best we can throughout our business by attending and speaking at conferences, reading the latest design books and attending workshops.
But by far and away the most valuable thing we’ve done so far is to trial the design field trip. Design field trips give us the opportunity to scrutinise our own processes by working through them with a group of designers who come with fresh perspective and a wealth of relatable experience.
How does a design field trip work?
A successful design field trip starts with careful planning and the setting of expectations. For our first outing to Facebook, my colleague extraordinaire Allison Grayce (who’s written about her experience here) made contact with the Facebook design team in London, raised the idea of a field trip and explicitly called out who we were hoping to meet and what we were hoping to learn. Facebook graciously accepted.
An outline of a design field trip
Once both parties are in agreement that it’s going to be time well spent, it’s time to turn up. We’ve found that a successful design field trip can involve around 8–10 people in each party, takes around 3 hours (including lunch) and can be roughly broken down into four parts:
- Setting the context — starting with a tour of the office/workspace helps understand the environment in which work gets done, it instantly generates questions and interesting information (see ‘Remote working’ in part 2).
- Understanding the processes at work — Facebook followed their tour by giving us the same ‘introduction to design at Facebook’ presentation that’s given to all new joiners during Bootcamp. This is a great opportunity to understand the process end-to-end and get an idea of where our organisations are similar, and where they differ.
- Q&A — if you can find a large space, organise the room into a round-table style Q&A session. This means that everyone can get involved with asking questions and sharing their experience.
- Lunch — an opportunity to re-fuel, think back over the Q&A and discuss some of the finer points in smaller groups, and in a more informal setting.
So, what can you expect to learn during a design field trip?
Conferences, workshops, books and blog posts are all very useful in building skills and learning new techniques. I’ve seen that design field trips can offer something else.
In the second part of this post, ‘Design field trips can teach us what conferences can’t’, I talk about what we’ve learned from design field trips and give some examples from our visit to Facebook.
If your design team is interested in a design field trip exchange with Redgate, get in touch. We’d love to show you around, explain how design works in our organisation and share with you what we know. Lunch is on us!