In their book Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-house Design Teams, Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner apply their knowledge about managing Design teams, which they acquired at the consultancy Adaptive Path, then following the acquisition of Adaptive Path by Capital One, at a large enterprise.
Title: Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-house Design Teams
Author: Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Published: September 13, 2016
An Omni-Design Approach
Rather than delving into the intricacies of User Experience and the myriad of disciplines within User Experience, Merholz and Skinner take a broad, inclusive approach in their assessment of Design organizations. Because UX design is an interdisciplinary practice, people in many roles influence the delivery of designed experiences, including developers, writers, and others. Thus, the siloing of design specialties according to the types of deliverables they create—for example, videos, wireframes, or prototypes—can lead to missed opportunities and conflicts within an organization.
An interesting assertion that the book makes early on is that all design is service design. Despite the apparent differences in the job titles and descriptions of various UX roles, when we consider the reality of today’s economy, products, and experiences, it becomes clear that this seemingly bold statement is actually obvious.
Of course, this might beg the question, what is a service? Some may bemoan the rise of the service economy as manufacturing has declined, conjuring images of baristas and servers who work for tips. In fact, research has suggested that, as of 2018, 67% of the US economy comprised service jobs. However, this shift does not necessarily denote a decline in people’s wages or professionalism. Indeed, the services sector includes financial services, legal support, marketing, consulting, and software development. Furthermore, IT (Information Technology) has progressively shifted to more and more cloud-based solutions—including SaaS (Software as a Service), infrastructure, and business processes—which we expect to achieve a 12.5% compounded growth rate from 2018 through 2022.
In fact, many of the products that consumers buy—including cars, televisions, and security cameras—enable the consumers who purchase them to add features through subscriptions or networked connectivity. So, more than ever, product design has become tightly integrated with the delivery of services—along with concerns about onboarding, use, and support that come along with service design.
These new realities are challenging the traditional approach of siloing product design and marketing design. As Merholz and Skinner describe in Org Design for Design Orgs, product design was historically coupled with Engineering, while customer awareness and acquisition were the primary focus of Marketing Communications and Advertising departments. These departments understandably have somewhat different skill sets. But, in today’s world, products can themselves be a channel for acquiring customers. Thus, Design’s focusing exclusively on human factors can limit an organization’s potential for growth.