SCALING DESIGN & GROWING DEPARTMENTS

Every company is different and has unique needs. However, there are approaches that often help extend team capacity and grow an organization. ​

  1. Scaling processes

  2. Operationalizing or automating tasks and flows

  3. Hiring a team that can grow itself

1. Scaling processes

 

Obviously the basics of this is making sure people have the requirements and information needed to solve the problem at hand or serve the users and the business. 

So that is the first step. But then there are reviews (internal and with stakeholders) and consistent collaboration that people need with their team-members. That sometimes happens organically, but it helps to bake it into the development process.

When there are more teams that work on related projects there needs to be communication across teams, and some form of documentation that enables people to catch up on where related teams are. This doesn't require constant meetings (the better the processes the fewer meetings are needed) or complex wiki/slack/jira updates. This can also mean utilizing tools to capture, track and share information. ​

2. Operationalizing or automating tasks or flows

The basics of this might be having templates for project requirements or design templates that are starting points for new designs. 

But entire processes can be operationalized in order to make things go faster and more repeatable than before. This graph illustrates how I did that for basic, and very commonly requested, usability testing and customer feedback at Sigma.

Usability Testing_ Manual Ad Hoc Process.png
Usability Testing_ Optimized.png

3. Hiring a team that can grow itself

 

Well, it won't really grow itself. But when you hire an appropriate mix of designers of various levels and professional goals, it can seem like that. 

Here's what I mean. Most places want a mix of senior practitioners and more junior practitioners. That's not hard. But also consider people wanting to go into management or not. If you have some senior people who want to follow that path then you can set them up to mentor the more junior folks as a way for them to learn management skills. Then you get to see how they do with limited actual responsibilities and can help them develop in the direction they need. You can do the same with senior managers mentoring first-time managers. 

The key here is to be clear about benefits and responsibilities, and opportunities for advancement. Some folks may want to get training on managing but there might not be a path at the company for them to move into that role in the near future. They should still get some management training if that's what they want to work on, even if they end up using those skills elsewhere.