Assessing Impact

January 23, 2017 • 

As a company scales a Design team cannot afford to function any longer on an ad-hoc basis. Many things get lost within rapid growth of a company-even the expectations you hold of your peers in your own discipline.

When we noticed this breaking at scale, our leadership team clarified the expectations for our Designers. This gave:

  1. …us something to assess people on bi-annually
  2. …our reports a clearer reference on what we considered to be a “great Designer

Aside from laying out the basic expectations we have of all Designers on our team, it explains the rubric we use to gauge ‘impact’ and how the expectations change depending on what career stage you’re in.

Profiles

Each Designer is looked at through four different frames: craft, ownership, influence, and team. We took these four frames and explained how we expected each Designer at different career stages to act and wrote them down.


I am an intern

Craft

I work on a portion of a project and need regular assistance by another Designer or my lead.

Ownership

I work on one small thing at a time and ensure it is reviewed by the Lead Designer on the project.

Influence

I am focusing mostly on getting better at Design as a discipline and any decisions I make are in combination with the Lead Designer on the project.

Team

I am helping with low-hanging fruit (like icons) and I join the team activities like stand-up.


I am a Product Designer

Craft

I can tackle a project with the guidance of my lead according to the schedule agreed upon by my team. I address issues as they arise and never block the team from moving forward.

Ownership

I am working on a portion or multiple portions of a project or multiple projects. I understand why I make certain decisions and how they affect my project. I am an expert on the problem.

Influence

The decisions I make are specific to my project and benefit my project. I am building relationships with people outside my immediate team.

Team

I am helping the success of the project, participating in roadmap and strategy discussions, and join all team activities. I make a good example for any interns on the team.


I am a Senior Product Designer

Craft

I can tackle a project without the guidance of my lead according to the schedule agreed upon by my team. I address issues as they arise and never block the team from moving forward.

Ownership

I am responsible for seeing a project through to success. I understand why I make certain decisions and how they affect my project. I am an expert on this problem and can delegate tasks if necessary.

The other members on my team believe I’m the person responsible for the design decisions on the team and act accordingly.

Influence

Although I am responsible for my primary project, I also am involved or lightly involved in the support of multiple additional projects.

I share my ideas and help align these projects to the yearly goals of R&D as defined by our VP of Product.

Team

Not only am I a helpful member of my team, I represent a healthy idea of what Product Design is to the other disciplines and help mentor other team members.


I am a Product Design Lead

Craft

I can tackle any project according to the schedule defined. I am able to find and leverage the tools available. I have the skills and experience to do this without guidance.

Ownership

I am responsible for the success of multiple projects (project-based or not).

Influence

I understand the context of my own team’s projects as well as the impact they have on related initiatives. (e.g. While I lead [this project] + [this project], I also understand [the project area] as a whole.)

The work that I do impacts Product Design in Toronto and Product Design at the company. I bring new ideas and approaches and foster better Design culture in Toronto and across the company.

Team

I am responsible for managing and mentoring my direct reports and aligning the Design group’s goals to the company's. I contribute to UX initiatives outside of my direct team and participate in cross-office communications.


I am a Senior Product Design Lead

Craft

I identify problems that need to be solved on a strategic level and can tackle any project according to the schedule defined. I am able to find and leverage the tools available. I have the skills and experience to do this without guidance.

Ownership

I am ultimately responsible for the success of a product area consisting of many projects.

Influence

I understand the context of my own team’s projects as well as the impact they have on related initiatives. (e.g. While I lead [this project] + [this project], I also understand [the project area] as a whole).

I am involved in Product Roadmap discussions and impact overall planning and resourcing of teams. I bring new ideas and approaches and foster better Design Culture in Toronto, across the company, and externally.

Team

I am responsible for managing and mentoring my direct reports and supporting them as they take on reports of their own. I ensure that the Design group's goals align to the company's.

I coordinate, plan, and/or contribute to UX initiatives outside of my direct team and participate in cross-office communications.


Adjustments

This is how the document lives right now. It’s a changing document; altered as we learn what works and what doesn’t work for our Designers and the company. I want to stress that this is a general baseline and we allow for unique interpretations of certain things… we’re not building a team of robots. Or, at least, I’m not.

One thing we still think about often is that this framework implies that we expect all Designers to become leads but we stress internally that this isn’t the expectation. We are still having difficulty understanding internal/external acknowledgment of ICs who don’t decide to go into management.

If you’re scaling a Design team, I’d love to hear what you’re doing.[1]


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