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Unifying Your Product Design Org through DesignOps

Michelle Chin
September 24, 2021

Unifying Your Product Design Org through DesignOps

This is a talk I gave at UX Y'all 2021, where the theme was "unity."

In this talk, you’ll learn more about the emerging practice of Design Operations or “DesignOps.” We’ll discuss why product design teams need DesignOps to remain highly effective. We'll cover how DesignOps can keep your org unified, your products aligned, and your designers engaged. You'll also hear examples of how a large company leveraged DesignOps to design inclusively across all our products. We'll also show how you can approach establishing DesignOps at your org.

If you want to learn more about DesignOps, check out my DesignOps Starter Kit: https://bit.ly/design-ops-starter-kit

Michelle Chin

September 24, 2021

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  1. September 24, 2021 | UX Y’all Unifying Your Product Design

    Org through DesignOps Michelle Chin Principal DesignOps Manager, Citrix @soysaucechin
  2. Hello! My path at Citrix always included DesignOps Designing team

    solutions at scale across our product org Product Designer Design Manager DesignOps Manager
  3. Citrix’s Product Design Org VP of Design Head of Research

    Head of Program Mgmt Design Management Designers Researchers Program Managers DesignOps Manager
  4. Unifying through DesignOps • What is DesignOps? • What’s its

    value? • How does it help: • Product • Process • People • What about starting DesignOps?
  5. What is DesignOps? DesignOps is an emerging practice in larger

    design organizations. It focuses on the coordination and operationalizing of people and processes, so the team can focus on doing their very best work.
  6. What is DesignOps? • DesignOps | Program management | Design

    management? • Some DesignOps responsibilities are handled by program management or design management • A separate DesignOps practice can alleviate the responsibilities and allow for more efficiency
  7. DesignOps is for highly-effective teams Citrix allows people to work

    from anywhere securely Athletes Coaches Support Techs
  8. DesignOps is for highly-effective teams Citrix allows people to work

    from anywhere securely Designers Managers DesignOps
  9. Why DesignOps? Citrix allows people to work from anywhere securely

    Product Process People Alignment Consistency Fairness
  10. DesignOps + Product DesignOps is product agnostic. They can offer

    an opportunity to align your products holistically. • Think of elements in your product that can be universally common. • Think of aspects of design that should apply across all products, such as accessibility and localization.
  11. Product alignment: Design system jUIce is our design system •

    Governance process • Always aiming to align • Alignment doesn’t have to happen overnight
  12. Product alignment: Accessibility + localization Citrix’s goal is to be

    the preferred way for 1 billion people to work. DesignOps created training and best practices for accessibility and localization
  13. DesignOps + Product Top tips • Think broadly across your

    product suite • Identify representatives from all of your products Ask yourself • What are the common denominators across all your products? • Who are your most collaborative teammates?
  14. DesignOps + Process Process is at the core of DesignOps.

    Operators love identifying and fine- tuning processes to help people • Think of processes that can scale across the org • Think of processes where teammates can benefit from consistency • Think of documenting this info so people have access to it whenever they need it
  15. Process consistency: adopting Figma We moved to using Figma and

    had to figure out: • Transitioning to a new tool • Training people • Project and file structure
  16. Process consistency: Story pointing design work Story pointing is a

    communication tool for us. We can all share in that same language.
  17. Process consistency: Playbooks We document as much as possible in

    playbooks • Easy to consume • Easy to find • Easy to create
  18. DesignOps + Process Top tips • Start small, then scale

    up. Try pilots first. • Document processes in a format that works for the content creator AND the team! Ask yourself • Can the team find the information they need on their own? Do they need to ask their manager, peers, etc.?
  19. DesignOps + People People are the reason DesignOps exists. DesignOps

    can unify teams both in craft and culture. • Think of learning and development opportunities • Think of moments to share and celebrate together • Think of teammate engagement and maintaining a sense of pride and belonging
  20. People development: Up-leveling team craft DesignOps can help level-up the

    team’s craft • Ensure they’re keeping up with tech & trends • Sustain quality work • Investing in the team
  21. People investment: Career ladders DesignOps can help organize career ladders.

    • Universal standards to ensure fairness • Guidelines that help level set expectations Associate Designer Product Designer Sr. Product Designer Sr. Product Designer 2 Principal Product Designer Group Product Designer
  22. People engagement: Culture-building events We try to identify opportunities for

    our team to connect • Celebrations • Weathering challenges together • Office hours Asynchronous celebrating on Slack Working sessions Virtual celebrations Office hours
  23. People engagement: Working across geos We have offices in North

    America, Europe, and Asia - covering 6 different time zones. • Hosting events that accommodate time zones + collaboration • Identifying asynchronous ways to work
  24. DesignOps + People Top tips • Work with managers to

    identify something the entire org can learn and level up with their craft. • Unifying doesn’t need to be real-time. Think of asynchronous ways. • Ensure fairness across your org. Ask yourself • Am I really including everyone? • Could what I’m doing be interpreted as unfair?
  25. Formalizing DesignOps in your org • How to pitch DesignOps

    to your leadership • A few pro tips as you start out
  26. Background My role as a design manager People management DesignOps

    Design strategy Realistically I wanted to focus on DesignOps
  27. Background We were all struggling to get operational initiatives done.

    What if we took everyone’s DesignOps slice and gave it to one person? Would that allow the org to finally focus on some operational initiatives? Yes, probably!
  28. 1. Identify projects that will give you wins! • People

    are investing in something that might feel risky. Prove to them that this was worth the investment! • Think about opportunities for projects that you feel fairly confident about. • Measure your goals!
  29. 2. Over communicate - everything! • You’re working in somewhat

    uncharted territory - people will be just as excited as you! • People have different mental models of DesignOps • They might not fully understand what you’re working on or how you’d doing things • You’re kind of the DesignOps spokesperson - help build that trust and confidence
  30. 2. Over communicate – everything Top tips • Communicate as

    much as possible and in different formats Slack Email Management meetings Design shares Team meetings
  31. 2. Over communicate – everything Top tips • Provide opportunities

    for Q&A • Be approachable • Have 1-1s with stakeholders to provide that open line of communication Messages Meetings Office hours One-on-ones Miro boards
  32. 3. Create a backlog • People will understand DesignOps in

    their own special way. • “Doesn’t DesignOps include [random task]?” • “Isn’t [random task] Michelle’s responsibility?” • People will be inspired and want more!
  33. 3. Create a backlog • People will understand DesignOps in

    their own special way. • “Doesn’t DesignOps include [random task]?” • “Isn’t [random task] Michelle’s responsibility?” • People will be inspired and want more! • A backlog can help you and others pace and define the DesignOps practice.
  34. 3. Create a backlog Top tips • Create a shareable

    backlog • Periodically review it
  35. 3. Create a backlog Top tips • Create a shareable

    backlog • Periodically review it
  36. 3. Create a backlog Top tips • Lookout for yourself

    – focus on your goals for the year
  37. Quick recap Don’t forget to celebrate wins! DesignOps is vital

    to highly-effective product design teams DesignOps can help with inclusivity and unification when it comes to product, process, and people Think: alignment, consistency, and fairness
  38. Thanks! • The full DesignOps Starter Kit: https://bit.ly/design-ops-starter-kit • Please

    stay in touch! • LinkedIn: michelletchin • Twitter: @soysaucechin • UX In Real Life - a new podcast debuting Oct. 7th