Scaling Design and Driving Change With Communities
As a new design leader at Vipps MobilePay, I’m learning every day as we build an international product design team. Success depends on teamwork and a shared goal, but scaling that up brings new challenges. We’re trying out new initiatives to get it right. One such initiative is building professional communities within Design, and the early results are really encouraging.
How do we build the professional communities?
Here are some principles we follow to make sure that they create value.
Incentives: For communities to be effective in a fast-paced work environment, they need to be woven into our daily workflow, organizational structure, and career paths. This setup makes these communities strong tools for personal development and significant contributions to the company goals.
Leadership: Every community must have a leader. Their role isn’t to shoulder all the work but to facilitate group meetings. They are responsible for ensuring there’s a plan in place and that tasks and responsibilities are properly delegated and followed up on.
Diverse Membership: A key requirement for getting a community up and running is that you manage to get designers from across the organization to join. This diversity guarantees that the perspectives and solutions generated are well-rounded and applicable on an organizational level. Moreover, this broad membership fosters organizational buy-in, making it easier to implement change.
Responsibility: These communities aren’t just talk shops; they hold genuine decision-making authority. They serve as a safe space to try out new ideas and best practices. Once an idea proves itself, the community takes on the role of evangelists, sharing their findings and educating the broader team. This democratic approach decentralizes power, making our design process more agile and responsive.
Regular Meetups: Consistency is the key to momentum. To maintain it, we’ve carefully designed a schedule for all design-related meetings to avoid conflicts and overlapping themes. This rhythm ensures that not only do the communities meet regularly but that their insights and ideas for change can be seamlessly integrated into broader discussions and decision-making processes.
Social Connectedness: As our team spreads across different product teams and even borders, the risk of isolation becomes a real concern. These communities don’t just drive change; they serve as social lifelines. They offer a space for designers to reconnect, share experiences, and feel part of a larger mission, bridging the gap between isolated work and team cohesion. As we expand internationally, these gatherings become even more crucial to ensure that we maintain a sense of unity across various cultural and geographical landscapes.
Selective Membership: It’s tempting to want to join multiple communities, especially when they all offer opportunities for growth and impact. However, we enforce a ‘one community at a time’ policy. This encourages individuals to fully commit to a single community, elevating the quality of their contributions and ensuring that they are fully immersed in its objectives and challenges. And of course, it’s totally fine to switch communities if you want to grow or contribute in another area.
Already seeing a big impact
Right now, we’re running two key communities that deal with research and visual design. I have to say, the initial outcomes have been striking. These groups are quickly becoming the engines that drive change across the company. Designers are flourishing because they’ve been handed the responsibility to enact real changes. And for me, this loosens the bottleneck, letting the team adapt more fluidly as we scale up and branch out internationally.
I’m eager to see how these communities will continue to evolve and amplify our impact.
PS. I love to learn from others. Feel free to share your thoughts or experiences.