Three Days in the Desert

Operationalizing Design to deliver at scale starts with designers and ends with how they work with each other and with the rest of an organization. Over the past year at Automattic Design, I have worked towards designing better processes, removing the blockers to allow for a closer designer culture, facilitating better cross-team and cross-functional collaboration, nurturing the designers’ career journey, and listening to what the collective needs to do their best work. When successful at scale, we’ve seen design thinking and design infused processes in almost all of the work we do to better service our customers. And this is what we saw during our first Design Collaboration Meetup in Arizona last week.

Matrix organizational structures, in which people report to two (or more) groups, can also help develop cultural brokers. Despite their inherent challenges (they can be infuriatingly hard to navigate without strong leadership and accountability), matrices get people used to operating at interfaces.

Just under 100 people from all across the company joined in to work together towards our three shared goals of:

1. Building practical skills and a strong cross-functional community.

Because we can only do our best work when we are solving our customer problems together. Design + engineering + product + happiness, together. FTW!

2. Developing new leaders through focused leadership training.

Supporting current and rising Design Directors to live and lead in our matrixed organizational structure by piloting leadership training that focuses on professional development and performance management. Because the future of the success of our design organization depends on seasoned and well-trained leaders.

3. Collaborating to make and deliver work together.

Spending time during each day to lean on and learn from one another. The more people are empowered, the more we can celebrate what cross-functional partnership can bring to our work IRL, the faster parts of the customer experience can improve.

Published by sntdo

sntdo is short for Sentido, Spanish for "Sense." All things sense-making / New Yorker born and raised / kid wrangler / Head of Design Operations @Automattic / @frogdesign @hotstudio alumn / Design Diplomat / Hostage Negotiator / Boricua