How to build a sustainable design team

For simplicity I will refer to the role of Design Manager in my storytelling. By Design Manager I mean someone responsible for overseeing design teams and projects. Depending on the organisation, this role could be called Design Manager, Design Lead, Head of Design, Design Director, Managing Director, General Manager, etc.

Whatever the label, as a Design Manager, questions such as these swirl around your head on an almost daily basis...

Trying to address all of these questions at once can be overwhelming, so Tip #1: Focus.

In this talk I will focus on strategies for:

  1. Scaling to meet demand
  2. Maintaining Quality
  3. Maintaining culture
  4. Defending budgets

Challenge #1: Design projects are de rigueur. Demand is going through the roof. How do we scale our team?

 I will talk about:

  • Prioritisation models ­ understand where to focus and how to say no
  • Central team of design experts vs. democratisation of design and embedding designers across organisations
  • Resourcing models ­ understand the type and number of people do you need
  • Partnering models ­ working with contractors, agencies and consultants

Challenge #2: Our team is growing. Everyone is busy. Our clients are designing for themselves. How do we maintain quality?

I will talk about:

  • Governance models ­ understand what to control and what to let go
  • The pros and cons of DIY design toolkits
  • Structured activities for collaboration and critique

Challenge #3: Our team is growing. We are split across multiple locations. How do we maintain the great culture we started out with?

I will talk about:

  • Culture audit ­ understand and foster the things people love about your team
  • Scalability ­ create policies that work for 5 or 50
  • Ways to help dispersed teams feel connected

Challenge #4: We need a several people with different skill sets. We need time to deliver our best work. It all costs money. How do we defend our approach and budgets?

I will talk about:

  • Design education and maturity ­ the slow game and the tipping point
  • Analysing the cost of design ­ billable vs. non­billable staff, rate models
  • Having an arsenal of anecdotes and proof points

I will wrap up with a clear list of top tips. 

Presentation audio