The Bigger Picture: A Panel Discussion

Lou Rosenfeld (moderator)
Principal, Rosenfeld Media

Jose Coronado
Vice-President of Global Design Operations, JPMorgan

Rachel Posman
Head of Design Operations, UberEats

Guneet Singh
Director of Customer Experience Programs, Docusign

Crystal C. Yan
Product Lead, New Initiatives, Remitly

This year’s conference ambitiously tackles three huge, over-arching themes:

  • Proving value and measuring outcomes
  • Partnering outside design
  • Change management

These are indeed huge and over-arching. But, with the help of four crack DesignOps and ResearchOps leaders, the audience’s questions, and Lou Rosenfeld’s moderation, we’ll pull lit off—and we’ll even have some valuable take-aways by the end of the session.

Advice on the first theme:

Rachel – she has often been the first person in her role. FIrst one doing DesignOps, Design Program Managenet,. One of the easiest ways to gain trust is to act like a researcher or designer. She uses Design Thinking in her work at UberEats. While leaders understand, team members don’t always understand what the value is. She interviewed them and made a journey map, and shared where she would focus. That was the catalyst for this role – it enabled sharing across teams.

Crystal – it comes down to building shared language across the organization. It’s been really useful to shape the story of how her team is providing value in the context of the broader company’s values. So, the company is data driven, and she invokes that value in her own work as well. Before that she worked in government, and they had to explain their roles to members of Congress. They wanted to be ‘more efficient in government spending’; in the public sector she had to talk about cost savings. In talking with sales teams, they had to articulate agenda, purpose, and outcome of each meeting. She used the same approach in meeting with them, and they were more receptive to her ideas.

Guneet – what value means varies by audience – C-suite cares about top line, a product owner may care about adoption. It’s hard to prove a dollar impact of research and design activities. Making baseline measurements allows you to show movement.

Jose – are we teh right people to come up with that pefect mix, and how do you get there. Yes balancxing qualitative and quantitative measures. Otehwrise we are not able to ocnnect with the people we want to influence. Impact on their designers – how are we making their world better by giving them time back, or helping them be more collaborative with product and technology team members. Delivering the right solution is key – and proving adoption, retention, and engagement is also important. They learned that people in financial instituations have an allerfgix reaction to happiness, to that light. They have to talk wbout sentiment or satisfaction – but it doesn’t cause the same reactions.

Q – How do you reach the point of confidence? It’s not something we can do in the first year or two of our careers – or can we?

A (Guneet) – Collecting data from customer and from the field has worked really well from them.

A (Crystal) – Shift from thinking about the decision to thinking about how decisions are made. There is measurable value in failing / learning / pivoting to build the right thing.

Q – How to reconcile internal feedback with what you are hearing from customers.

A (Guneet) – Take the feedback on a regular cadence, to ensure they get a voice. Balance that against insights from other channels including post-sales.

A (Rachel) – We give designers time (a week when it’s slow) to dig deeply into new ideas with an effort to get them on the roadmap.

A (Jose) – Opportujnities to combine different types of data. Customer feedback was going to an unanswered inbox for many years. COmbine that with hard data about engagement, retention. Then you have strong evidence that is based in qualitative and quantitative data. Enable data-supported decisions, rather gut-based decisions.

A (Rachel) – Understand the values of the people you’re trying to influence. She has to work on a highly regulated effort across many different teams. Bridging between risk management and design teams – we’re well placed to do that.

A (Guneet) – Start small to make a big impact. Who is that advocate? Maybe focus on one product area, or even one person. Then start replicating those learnings into other areas.

A (Crystal) – How do you get to that point where you can get cooperation, attention, and even respect. She used to do an introduction to design research for new teams, with the goal of facilitating a customer centric mindset. Now she is breaking it down into smaller activities like shadowing her during an interview or usability testing, or planning research objectives. And then getting people to practice doing it themselves. Creating activities, doing it across a period of time. You’re asking people for less time, makes it easier to engage.

Q – How do you bring more clarity into different roles – like program / product delivery. Any tips or tricks?

A (Jose) – We are having an identity crisis. We are so invested in distinguishing ourselves that we have created all these different roles. We’re making it more difficult to work with us. We have to really make a concerted effort to change that in an iterative manner.

A (Guneet) – It’s beyond design into marketing, engineering, etc. We don’t involve them when we build the goals. Companies who have been in the forefront of involving everybody goes a long way when it comes to execution.

A (Rachel) – The leadership across disciplines aligned on a process that the team would use from conceptualization to launching an eperiment. There are five checkpoints, and they are required to come together. That structured process has made it work a lot smoother. Designers and all of us – the title is actually important, our identities are tied to that. Titles do cause problems, it’s a good thing to poke at.

A (Crystal) – She worked in a uniquely positioned organization, they tried to influence all levels. They woudl consider name-dropping the nuclear option. We wanted an organization to be more iterative in releasing software. They sold them – if this succeeds you can take the credit, and if it fails you can blame us. People

A (Guneet) – Don’t expect they will get it all in one go. Context cannot be transmitted once, or in one way. Verbal, email, Slack, Town Hall. Don’t assume that you’re done after one Jira rreport, one readout.

A (Rachel) – There is a significant people component to this work. So much to create teh process and getting people to buy into change management. You can find the individuals that have built trust in the team – a leader, or someone well respected can help you send that message.

A (Jose) – In a previous organizaiton, the head of design for their division got together. They set up a Design Thinking workshop where all the leaders of the divison, and they crafted what it meant to be design driven, what design meant to the organization. Design wasn’t in the credo, but they felt ownership and adopted it. A great way to have impact it without using the design. It was framed as the principles that drive our organization – our credo.

Q – Grassroots versus top down?

A (Crystal) – I meant you should do both. In government, the most senior people are politicians, and middle management are bureaucrats. You want buy-in from the people who will be running that program twenty years from now. People (especially junior people) were really afraid things would go wrong.

Q – My company has a culture of continuous improvement. How do balance that with change fatigue. When to make the big change, versus when the team is maxed?

A (Jose) – One of the principles he alluded do – riskiest assumption without investing a time of money. Risk aversion is high. You are always testing something that can help you or you can always go back. The big reveal has a lot of risk, how can we learn.

A (Guneet) – Fatigue understands when the don’t understand the benefits or the rationale. Bring wins to the surfaces also helps to avoid fatigue.

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