How to run a successful design team
Design Team Culture and Collaboration at Hinderling Volkart
Since the beginning of 2010, Hinderling Volkart has run a highly regarded digital product design team. It has always been a passionate team of thinkers and doers.
In this short article, I would like to share some detailed insights into how we run our team, collaborate and exchange knowledge.
Our designers are often fairly busy, which is a good thing, of course. But when deadlines are tight, it is sometimes challenging to keep the team in synch and communicate. We have come up with multiple ways to do so. Whilst exchanging knowledge related to innovation, inspiration, tools and tricks in Slack, we also apply personal exchange formats to talk about what’s going on in and outside our work.
1. Daily Exchange via Slack
Simple but effective: Quick shares related to any sort of inspiration, tools or general advice go into our #creation Slack channel. This is also an ideal place to gather quick and short feedback from anyone in the team or to carry out low-fi internal A/B tests.
2. Weekly Design Exchange
Our weekly Design Exchange is a short show and tell gathering to talk about current projects or challenges one is working on. It lasts for 30 minutes every Wednesday before lunch and we move from workstation to workstation to look at work-in-progress files on the screen. No preparation is required. It’s about providing a short overview of one’s current work. Sometimes the team provides immediate feedback or short discussions come up. Longer discussions continue during lunch.
3. Weekly Design Update
At the end of each week, we get reminded to post our latest design outcome into the #design-weekly Slack channel. We simply set up a Slack reminder, and every designer is supposed to submit her or his latest exported, PNGs.
This is an easy way to see everybody’s work in one stream. The channel is also open to all non-designers at the agency.
4. Monthly Design Forum
Our Design Forum is held every couple of weeks over an extended lunch. It usually lasts for two to three hours. This is when members of the team present some of their expertise, learnings from projects and general design or team related topics get discussed (check the image below with our short “3D for designers” introduction). This is also when we discuss team activities.
5. Yearly Design Trip
Once a year our whole design team goes on a fun and inspirational design trip. These trips are dedicated to have a deeper exchange about experiences and challenges in projects, the sharpening of our vision or simply having a good time together. What we do varies from trip to trip. Sometimes we visit conferences, award shows or we run a “creathon” (kind of a hackathon for designers) to learn something new.
Here are a few impressions from our last design trips all over Europe.
6. Frequent Design Team Events
Most recently we started to set up smaller design team events to collectively visit exhibitions, talks or do fun stuff together. We have simply set up a Google Calendar anyone can submit events to. Whoever is interested can subscribe and attend whatever is on.
That’s it. Thanks for reading, or at least scrolling that far. We would like to hear what you think or how you run your team. Leave a comment or just give us some.