A prominent Canadian enterprise recently underwent a transformative journey in its design leadership, aiming to unite its existing team of designers under shared design principles, mandate, and vision. This initiative sought to align the diverse talents and perspectives within the design team, fostering collaboration and empowering designers to contribute their best work.
Forging a shared mandate and vision for our design team wasn’t just a strategic move; it was a commitment to collective success and innovation. This alignment would ensure that every designer embraces a common purpose, fostering team cohesion while empowering individual voices. We wanted decision-making to become streamlined and guided by our collective goals, enhancing creativity within a framework of shared objectives. The shared vision would build trust and accountability, laying the groundwork for adaptability and resilience in the face of challenges.
In the first workshop, we collected design values from the best design teams around the globe and involved our entire design team in voting on those values. We asked everyone to vote on the values first, (I) as what they thought was a representation of the current ways of working, and then (II) as what they envisioned could be the North Star values. Each of us, regardless of role or seniority, had an equal voice and an equal vote. This process ensured that our design values and principles weren’t imposed but emerged organically from the collective effort of our team.
As a follow-up to the workshop, we sent all the participants an anonymous survey. We asked the following two questions against every value:
The survey allowed us to get a deeper understanding of how the team thinks about the voted design values and to give everyone another opportunity to get themselves heard without the fear of coming up with an answer on the spot in the workshop.
From these answers and our initial workshop, we crafted our design principles, mission, and vision statements. Once we had something that we were happy with, we brought the entire team together again to vote on the output that we had created and also gave them an opportunity to refine or remix what we had come up with. Consequentially, the values and the statements were not devised in isolation by any one senior member. Instead (and as desired), they were the result of a bottom-up approach, reflecting the aspirations and ideals of the designers themselves.
The final values, mission, and vision statements became the cornerstone of the team’s identity. Integrated into the design wiki, these statements served as a living document, evolving with the team’s growth and experiences. They were not mere words but a set of guiding principles that designers could refer back to during design critique sessions, ensuring that their work remained aligned with the shared vision.
This article was also published on bootcamp.