Organization Design for Successful Design Organizations

Peter Merholz · Wednesday, November 2 · 8:30am – 5:30pm · in Pacific B–C

Building a great in-house team doesn’t happen by accident. You need to deliberately grow and nurture it, to ensure it matches the needs of your organization.

Increase your design team’s influence within your organization. Create a thriving culture where design is involved at the beginning.

Recruit, hire, and grow a world-class design team. Expand your team’s skills and competencies to fit the needs of your business.

Peter has been in the UX profession ever since it became a profession, and has defined what UX leadership is really about.

The Day’s Agenda


Design’s place inside the organization

  • Map gaps and opportunities to your team’s organization chart.
  • Expand the definition of design to encompass all of your product and service touchpoints.
  • Hone in on the 12 qualities behind the best design organizations.

Organizational models for design teams

  • Structure the team based on your organization’s maturity stage.
  • Analyze the pros and cons of centralized and decentralized partnerships.
  • Outline the key roles and responsibilities on the modern design team.


Team skill sets and competencies

  • Establish professional growth paths with a competency matrix.
  • Introduce core design skills, including user research, interaction design, and prototyping.
  • Coach designers through the five levels of career growth.

Thriving design culture

  • Strengthen your managerial and coaching skills to bring out the best in designers.
  • Foster a collaborative and inclusive mindset while encouraging a diverse team.
  • Craft a concrete strategy for bringing design to the forefront of the organization.

Drive Strategic Design Outcomes

Connect your design to business value

To be successful, design teams must articulate value beyond “making pretty things.” The most strategic design teams establish metrics and key results to demonstrate the importance of their contributions.

Solve your recruitment, hiring, and professional development challenges

Design leaders frequently struggle to hire and grow the right people. By establishing a robust professional development framework with clear expectations, you will set up the team for success.

Grow your authority within the product team

All too often, stakeholders ignore the design team’s input and design is left out of key strategic conversations. See how to work change the conversation to move your design agenda forward.

You’ll see how to:

  • Overcome political obstacles by establishing design’s strategic role within the organization
  • Optimize the team’s influence with the right org structure
  • Establish a framework for developing and recruiting top talent
  • Build a best-in-class team by hiring for the right competencies
  • Evolve your team structure successfully as the organization matures

Maximize the power and authority of the design team

Establish a language and framework for your design team’s challenges

Once equipped with knowledge about the stages of organization evolution, the centralized partnership model, and the five levels of professional growth, your design team will have the necessary tools to tackle their issues.

Assemble your designer dream team

By instituting a competency framework and concrete growth paths, your team will have the skills and authority to successfully influence product and business decisions.

Evolve your stakeholders’ perception of design

By shifting from a product design to a service design charter, your design team will successfully establish a leadership role and be perceived as a peer rather than an executor.

Learn how to effectively embrace and employ design within your organization

By conducting an organization maturity analysis and structuring your team to meet its needs, you’ll be ready to drive design for every new organizational challenge.

Outline an action plan for building your design team

The day will focus on addressing the reality and complexity of your organization’s design challenges through in-depth discussion. There will be a lot of time dedicated to getting your questions answered and hearing what’s worked for others.

Peter Merholz

Photo of Peter Merholz

Here’s what Jared says about why he chose Peter for UI21…

From the very moment that people started using the term user experience, Peter was part of the conversation. As one of the founding leaders of Adaptive Path, Peter helped define the UX design vocabulary that we all use today.

Peter has spoken at many User Interface Conferences in the past, teaching hundreds of attendees how to get the most out of their design process. After a successful run at leading Adaptive Path, Peter moved over to the product side, running the design efforts at both Groupon and Jawbone.

He’s now encapsulated his experience leading teams into a new book, Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-house Teams., along with co-author Kristin Skinner. If you’re heading up an in-house team, you’ll want to spend this full day with Peter, as he pours his extensive knowledge and experience into your brain.

On Tuesday, Peter will give a featured talk, The Experience Is The Product.

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