Employ 5 Stages of Design Thinking Process When Growing Your Team

How OOZOU uses weekly meetings to improve its design team

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Ever wondered why you employ design thinking with your external client, but never once applied it to your team?

Well, wonder no more!

For those who didn’t know already, here’s a brief explanation on how to approach 5 stages of the design thinking process.

Author/Copyright holder: Teo Yu Siang and Interaction Design Foundation. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Design Thinking 101 for you, right?

Create an environment suitable for feedback

A benefit of working at OOZOU is a flat hierarchy within our team. This means we are encouraged to critique and comment as much as we like, provided that we keep it professional and positive. After all, we’re not savages here!

Keep it casual and calm

Being in an agency means that you would have various environments and conditions which would then need to be accounted for when applying workflow.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution here, so how do we make that work?

When I joined the team we were 4 designers. We have been conducting weekly design retrospective sessions where we discussed the past week of work; what went well, what needs to be improved and so on. This has helped to grow the team along with the workflow, tools and process with our projects.

Our design team go through these 5 stages of design thinking when implementing changes reflecting on our work

1. Empathise with users

We are a rapidly growing team of 10+ designers who come from very different backgrounds. And who do we empathise with? Ourselves, of course!

In fact, this process begins as early as conducting a design candidate interview. Our questions aim to gain insights on how the candidate views themself as a designer. For example:

[Do you consider yourself a UI or UX person?]

[What is your most challenging project and why?]

[How would you describe your dream team?]

Answers to those questions help us understand them more as a person. In essence, a “stakeholder” for our “project”.

We love diversity and are happy to have people with different views, so that our processes aren't constrained by a particular bias.

Comments and feedback are exchanged regularly and taken seriously so that we can have this inclusive design environment for our team, and to make sure that everyone is being heard no matter how small the issue is.

2. Define the problem

So, as we are a flat hierarchy team, once the problem starts coming in on our weekly retrospective, we start to dig deeper and define the actual problem within.

Are people feeling burnout because of poorly-done design system setups? Why is the client being difficult to negotiate with? Developers need faster handoffs and would like to trade away unnecessary design states, etc.

Defining the great questions would then lead to:

3. Ideate

This stage includes but is not limited to:

  • Brainstorming
  • Throwing ideas around
  • Asking members of the other team to gather insights on the subject

Get it done then and there.
We usually do this right then and there using our collective ideas working with each other in the project. We are encouraged to present ideas and suggest anything that could help our colleagues out, even if it involves one or more people from outside of our team.

4. Prototype

After we have settled on our solution, the team would sit down and start drafting up our game plans: list of tasks, team involvement and setups in order to make it happen.

Moreover, any solutions brought up by the team may even be extended to company-wide efforts. Everyone in the company can be our stakeholders so they’re an important part of the picture.
All our team has your back, really.
OOZOU is very open-minded when it comes to process improvements. As far as work is concerned, you can set the expectations to anyone involved in the project ( even the client) if it means that everything will run more smoothly in the end.

5. Test

Last but not least, after we have what we need to progress, we implement whatever we came up with in the very next sprint.

Our ongoing process to grow the team is an iterative process. The team would circle back to each idea. If it’s going well, we put them in our company's playbook. If it doesn't, we iterate the process over again, focusing on 3 main questions:

  1. What's the problem (this time)?
  2. What could be better?
  3. How can we improve it?

This way, the process improvement is made not by 2 or 3 managers looking down, but from people who are actually working and facing these issues and coming up with solutions together.
Fix it until it works!

Because in the end, we want to collaboratively build a solid design team environment while respecting each individual and what they bring to the table.

In just a little over a year, we have grown from a 4 person design team into 10+ and are actively looking for more. If you think that this might be a good fit for you, we are now hiring designers and many other positions.

Looking for a new challenge? Join Our Team

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Gavin Chiemsombat
I'm a full-time Product Designer (and a Front-end enthusiast) at OOZOU in Bangkok, Thailand

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January 22nd, 2021
Thank you for sharing. It is very nice recommendations. Hope to see more about your post.

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