Our client, the new VP of Design, contracted EchoUser to serve as exemplars for ideal design process and provide support during process changes implemented by the VP. I was specifically chosen for this project because of my process knowledge and experience in organizational strategy. 

By the end of my tenure there, I had provided training, mentoring and coaching to the UX team and stakeholders during company transition to a user-centered, iterative design process. 

"Throwing it OVER the Wall"

Our client, the new VP of Design, contracted EchoUser to serve as exemplars for ideal design process and provide support during process changes implemented by the VP. I was specifically chosen for this project because of my process knowledge and experience in organizational strategy.

Londa, a researcher, and I embarked on a listening tour, interviewing most of the UX design team including researchers, visual designers and interaction designers. The image below encapsulates how teammates related to each other and non-UX stakeholders.

  • Engineering growth enables development to produce code faster than UX can design.
  • This time pressure makes it hard to see the forest for the trees.
  • To avoid being a blocker, design is executed without sufficient info, rationale and feedback.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to uncontextualized requests reinforces that design makes things pretty.
  • Working in this sub-optimal ways leads to burnout and feeling undervalued.

 

IMAGE: Final team relationships metaphor graphic with team feedback integrated

IMAGE: Final team relationships metaphor graphic with team feedback integrated

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING STRATEGY

Sharing our findings with the client, we determined that a series of workshops to rally the UX team together would create opportunities to do work differently.

em-workshopvenndiagram copy.jpg

 

WORKSHOP 1: The company Today

The first workshop focused on the pain points in the current process and instigated staff to envision how the UX process might be better. The team acted out what was so challenging about the process today – even inspiring a few laughs.

The team was excited, tired and optimistic about the direction the new process was headed in. While previous attempts to improve process stalled out, the team found it very valuable for a consultant to continue the follow up through summaries, documentation and more.

IMAGE: UX staff performing existing scenario roleplay

IMAGE: UX staff performing existing scenario roleplay

Workshop 2: PROTOTYPING the Future

The second workshop was a mix of education and more roleplaying to bring best practices to life. While all staff knew what the theoretical UX process looked like, EchoUser shared real-world artifacts and examples from previous client engagements.

IMAGE: Explaining the UX process to stakeholders

IMAGE: Explaining the UX process to stakeholders

Staff developed the details to a UX process service blueprint including 10 key stakeholders over a 5 stage design process. The service blueprint provided a structure for the team to answer the most important question they posed in the first workshop, “Who does what, when?”

IMAGE: Discussing ways to improve process with stakeholders

IMAGE: Discussing ways to improve process with stakeholders

 

Post Workshop interventions: Reference Artifacts

After the introduction of the new process in the workshops, I supported the team in enacting process changes in their day-to-day projects. 

I reserved two hours a week to mentor individual designers and researchers; while slow to gain traction, I was approached on average by 2 people a week to discuss ways to manage projects, artifact examples and communicating with stakeholders.

Additionally, I developed tip sheets on key activities in the process and guides on how and when to bring stakeholders together.

Post Workshop interventions: OFFICE HOURS

Our client already envisioned UX Office Hours as a way to fill resourcing gaps and provide on-the-ground learning for UX team members; I was charged with executing on that vision. I developed program content with the client, researched and implemented a calendar management system (You Can Book Me) and scheduled UX staff to provide support. 

Post launch, I maintained the registration system, Confluence page, and provided weekly status updates to the Product Management organization. In my tenure, I led 14 office hours sessions with multiple UX staff members and 9 distinct product teams from across the company.

OUTCOMES & RESULTS

The complexity of the company environment has made it challenging to execute process changes overnight, but the UX team is increasingly more in charge of the process. From an executive level to the staff level, UX involvement in collaborating with stakeholders has increased.

The team is now engaged in grooming and planning meetings, conducting planning exercises with product and engineering teams, regularly attending sprint demos and conducting more UX reviews of in-progress code.

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