Implementing a Design Engine P2.


The first challenge In Part 1 of Implementing a Design Engine, we took a brief look at why it’s important to build a design engine in your organization and how to deal with the cost to people, time and processes.

Challenge #2: Implementing a design engine will tear through all layers of your organization

People can reject new processes, and anyone that don’t embrace establishing a design engine throughout all the organization in a self-less way will veto the success of everyone else on your team championing to make it work.

I’ve had to quarterback a lot of these scenarios at small 5 person startups, 20 people companies, 100+ people orgs, and executive teams at fortune 500 companies.

Solution: create organizational scar tissue by embracing the challenges of growth as part of the work. Disruption at our organizations happens often:

  • with a new hire on-boarding
  • new client relationships
  • when the tools we use change
  • when our current projects and company goals suddenly shift
  • or when we fail at something in an epic way

These disruptions temporarily slow down our processes, re-work them, and leave better, more efficient ones in their place. I’d like to think that our awareness and investment into these disruptions is what creates high-performing organizations that operate with a balanced cadence.

This gif is a disruption

Some examples of disruption:

  • recognizing the need for extended on-boarding and support for new team members.
  • creating written standard operations for all internal processes, created and owned by members of our own team.
  • the creation of project templates to standardize all projects types: from business development, sales, marketing, workshops, to design, to development.
  • recognizing overall project health as an issue, and creating a process for mid-project check-ins and pauses initiated by our internal team in a standardized way.

This results in an increase of our cadence

  • Faster time to performance: we decrease the time employees start to create full impact from 6 months to 90 days.
  • Distributed management of projects and processes.
  • Consistent project schedules and processes, and the ability stand up projects very quickly without impacting ramp-up time, strategy to design to development to client hand offs. We de-risk the impact on margins.
  • a healthier team: less anxiety about looming deadlines and changing requirements. Instead there’s a shift in ownership of requirements from product management and clients to the production teams who are responsible for self-identifying and taking control of their workflows, increasing communication, and stamping deadlines for change.

The next article will wrap up our introduction to building a design organization by outlining Challenge #3, Teams and Goals.

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