Five Phases of Centralized Partnership

Originally published May 9, 2019

The list of tech companies making big moves in the news goes on and on, Pinterest, Slack, Facebook, Airbnb etc. and while the focus is often on IPO’s and the end result, what runs in the background and central to their core is the partnership of design, dev, and engineering. As many organizations shift their focus towards customer centricity the need for actualization is generally where DesignOps comes into play. However, transitioning to a customer-centric model often reveals infrastructural people & process pains.

Over the past year, I have been leading Automatic Design through the transition towards a Centralized Partnership Model. The intention has been to build a cohesive design organization, improve accountability and growth for designers, reduce silos across product and engineering, and level up our collective understanding of product needs.

Managing through organizational changes is often unclear. In order to provide further clarity on the path forward, I built an outline for the “Five Phases of Centralized Partnership” as guidance on where we are and what our designers can expect as we move through these changes, together. These changes are a macro overview, our evolution has not been linear: like the product teams, we work in cycles, orbiting through our design thinking process of discovery, hypothesis, deliver and listen.

We are currently in phase 3

What we’ve left behind at each stage:

The Five Phases

The new gains/benefits incurred in improving our products and services at each stage:

We are currently in Phase 3, and if anything I have learned that working in a matrixed organization like Centralized Partnership, without clarity and accountability runs a high risk of failure. Transparency in thinking and process is critical to its success. As we work through each of these phases and focus areas we will continue to provide definition around the why as it relates to the tradeoffs, gains, and benefits incurred in improving our products, the environment for our people, and the overall experience for our customers.

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