Harnessing The Power of Design in an Enterprise


Harnessing The Power of Design in an Enterprise

Continuous Design

Successful cross-functional team requires all team members to have equal voices, responsibilities and stake in the direction of the product, including product, engineering and design individuals.
In this talk by Preethi will discuss how changing the mindset of designers to step-up, have interest in the business decisions and deploying their design skills outside the world of design creates stronger and more customer-centered products.
She will touch on:

  • How to encourage T-shaped designers in product teams
  • Using design thinking in business and product objectives creates better products
  • Having a truly cross functional teams allows for more efficient teams
Preethi Mariappan

Preethi Mariappan, VP, Design & Architecture,Visa

Hi everyone. My name is Preethi and I head up the product design team at Visa. And today I'm going to talk about how to grow design value within an enterprise. Now, when it comes to mobilizing design, there are both top down and bottom-up factors at play. And typically, both of them need to come together to make change possible. So, top-down factors are things like vision and mission, models, frameworks, or systems. These are usually large-scale initiatives with a long tail effect. And bottom-up factors are the more lived design practices, the tactics and experiments we can drive as designers with faster impact. So, for this talk, I'm going to focus on the bottom-up the factors and share some of our experiences and lessons that we've learned. Now, here are the two key facets I'll be walking through today with some examples. The first one is on why and how to grow multi-skilled or M shape design talent with the blend of horizontal and vertical skillsets. So, specialized and general skillsets. And the second is on how to build design processes inside/out where we're using methodologies to include and not interrupt and these are important facets to talk about, right? Since who we are and how we work, surely determines our impact. And to set some context for the examples, I'd like to share an overview of my team first. Now, we are commerce and payments experience designers and we work in a very complex B to B to C enterprise environment and oftentimes the products we work on are not always visible. Now, what I mean by that is let's imagine you're paying with your card that gets loaded in your digital wallet. That moment is hardly a fraction of a second but to make that moment truly frictionless, there's a lot of work that happens behind the scenes. So, we're working on ensuring that your transaction is secure. So, we're designing secure transactions. We're working on designing instant payment notifications that you receive. So, you feel confident when you're making payment and we're making sure you get rewarded. It you're getting great relevant offers every time you spend. So, these are the types of behind-the-scenes payment experiences that we typically get to work on. So, the fun stage for you, every time you access a payment experience is very simple but the backstage is very complicated. And to bring that to light, for instance, if you look at the ecosystem that we work with here, the way we deliver our products is by working with many of the clients and partners that you see here. So, every time you experience a secure transaction on a merchant insight, or let's say you get a payment notification on your banking app, Visa is part of designing that experience. And in our design practice, this means we need to look to balance a human centered design approach with a customer at the center always, of course, but really underpinned by a systemic design process. So, oftentimes we have to work very closely with multiple stakeholders. So, we're looking to understand things like how does the business model impact the customer experience? Or how does the risk model impact the customer experience? What are the regulatory challenges around this product that we need to consider? What are the technical partner integrations that we need to be factoring in. And oftentimes this can be very, very fragmented. Those are the kinds of questions that we try and answer as spot of designing for the entire system and understanding that if the system is successful, we're able to deliver a successful experience for the customer in time. So, what is an M-shaped designer looked like and why is this valuable for Visa? Here's an example for a multi-skill designer. Now, this designer is there's a UX generalist but brings deep expertise in data visualization and is maybe ramping up their user testing skills. And if you look to the left, maybe they're also growing their design operations capabilities and getting better at stakeholder management. But other skills could also be domain centered. So, maybe this designer has worked extensively in the loyalty space and really brings an in-depth understanding of the business and there is a lot of value in growing our talent this way, because it enables strategic design and critical thinking for our products and services. It really helps us play a more strategic role within the product ecosystem. We all know a diversity of thought and a diversity of skills help us innovate better. And we can really easily navigate between teams and functions. So, we can function very effectively in complex team structures without getting lost for designers of that thread. But growing these skills is easier said than done, right? We've all got our day-to-day jobs to manage and this really needs considered thought. It really needs additional effort on the designers part. So, it's not that easy. So, let me share with you how one of our designers approached this. So, this is Mel and she leads design for a loyalty platform. And Mel's challenge was to figure out how to upskill on the job while delivering an optimal customer experience for the product. Now, here on the top row, you can see the teams that Mel worked with. So, she worked with our internal product, tech and data teams. She also worked with external partners like banks and merchants. And of course, our customers who are the most important: stakeholders. And on the second row, you can see the goals. At first glance, it looks like everyone shares common product goals. But when we dig a bit deeper on the third row that we can see that stakeholder needs are quite varied and relevant to their function. So, this could be people looking at needing to meet their revenue goals or look trying to address regulatory challenges each of them has their own priorities. As a designer, Mel had to understand not just product goals but also what people in team she worked with considered important or challenging, but also balances out with customer needs at the same time. So to really engage, she needed to look beyond core functional design skills and things. Maybe that we don't traditionally consider design skills, but coulds and will increasingly become part of an enterprise designers tool toolbox. So, in this case, you're on the last row, you can see business communication skills. What key with so many different stakeholders to manage. This was a data centered product. So, knowing how to leverage data as a tool for design was very critical. We work with many partners managing them and helping them understand design was important. And finally, so what critical thinking skills to make the right decisions for the customer? Now, when we map these back to our skill canvas, we found that something like data analysis that sits on the user experience there could be acquired through for some formal foundational training. And maybe that would be more effective to begin with but all the cross-functional business acumen and creative skills for instance, could be learned informally on the job and there are many ways to do this and one way we did this is how we work together. Mel opened up the design process, so you could see there she ran iterative workshops from emotion to ideation. She engaged 15+ subject matter experts from cross functions. And what that helps the design team do was boost their own business knowledge down to a very, very granular level but they also learned how to get non-design stakeholders to understand the value of design through doing and understand the role of design through interaction. Another way the team learned was by establishing feedback loops. Now both instant, casual, and structured as you see here. The quarterly retros help the team better understand what worked and what didn't. So, it was really useful to see how we could solve the challenges that stakeholders were facing on things like product validation or technical constraints. We also ran product demos for 360 audience. So, this has the team really think critically about how to shape the customer experience narrative when speaking to a diverse group of stakeholders. And in this last example, we're going to talk about active learning, where it's not just learning on the core job that you're managing or the core product that you're working on but active in taking on side projects that can help you ramp up skills quickly and in a practical fashion. So, in Mel's case, for instance, as you can see here, she helped run a very comprehensive UAD exercise for a partnered loyalty product where she gained great insights from a platform that was going to go live faster that she could then bring back to her core product and think about how this affected the custom experience, challenges that she was dealing with on the product that she was driving. So, in summary, what we found worked for us was setting new term achievable goals that helped us learned like starting to run more cross functional design workshops that helped us grow business acumen, interacting purposefully with teams, helped us get actionable feedback. So, we learned to manage our stakeholders better and experimenting by taking on side hustle projects has really helped us bring a new perspective to how we design products. Now, we've done the second key factor in growing enterprise design, which is evolving and driving acceptance for design processes. And the way we think about this is really to start with what we have. So, we look at existing processes, our own systems and the business culture we operate in and we try and identify the weak spots and the fault lines and then we get to experiment for the weak spots to see how do we can try and fix it. We pilot it, we test, we scale it and then continue to evolve it. So, we're not coming in or starting art by thinking about how to roll out a design methodology. We use these tools, of course, where the Agile, Lean or Design Thinking or our own blend. But our approach here is to include and not interrupt and we found there's real value in this because this is really real-world based. Its outcome driven which means more people are likely to adopt it. Now, here has an example of how one of our designers approached this one project. This is Mitushi, and Mitushi recently piloted an e-commerce payment product where her challenge was to shape the design engagement process, going from pilot to scale product, and really make it work for the business. As part of the piloting process here, you'll see the internal and external stakeholders that Mitushi worked with to design the customer experience best practices. What we found was that internally the work was appreciated. It had real value, but people struggled with getting clients to buy in. This was completely new for that business unit. So, why, when and how to engage was not clearly understood. And externally, there were challenges with clients who brought their own design teams and practice varying standards. So, they saw our inputs as recommendations. They could take them or leave them and that in turn clearly impacted the customer experience. So, the learnings from Mitushi here were that we needed to pivot from recommended to required. We needed to change the process but at the same time, we needed the design process to be flexible, where we could persuade clients to step up. But not make full-on engagement mandatory and we also needed to help them understand every step of the way, what business value we were able to deliver on. So, this is how we did it. She has the three-step process that meant Mitushi had rolled up. So, step one is where clients can take away design requirements and in UX guide with consultation and this would work potentially for clients that have majority design teams who can go back and then implement it themselves and once they start seeing some results, they could come back and engage us potentially on step three for optimization or clients that didn't have design teams could get implementation support from us with step two or choose a combination to engage. Now, this can sound a bit like a buffet on the surface it's anything but. What we understood from the business and how the business worked was that if we wanted to uplift the whole of the customer experience for this product, we needed to be willing to uplift by parts and really use the business outcomes we can drive through this exercise to then slowly engage across the full product life cycle. So, what worked for us? In short, a solutioning versus a methodology mindset, a willingness to design processes that's a suit business rules, instead of the other way around; using results on through the line engagement and design the process with modularity. So, it can really bend but not break. And with that, we come to the end of my presentation. I hope you found this useful. Thank you all for your time and attention.