How I implemented a series of initiatives to maximise the potential of designers at Jigsawxyz.
Jigsawxyz is a financial technology company created to re-imagine the financial services market. They believe in a hyper-personalised world of fintech where users will own their data and see its full worth realised.
I was asked to join jigsawxyz on a permanent basis after I switched from UX to PM to salvage a client project that had hit turbulent times.
I intiated a discovery phase to understand the pain points and the opportunities. I started by interviewing every product manager and every member of the team in much the same way I would interview users in the early value testing interviews I conduct for products.
I had repeated sessions with the Art Director who had been with the company since it's inception to help define my role and understand the nuances of the company.
Mapping the team's capabilities
As I got to know everyone on my team I used a chart by Jason Mesut that plotted skills against key areas of competence. By the end, I had a clear picture of where skills were concentrated and where they were not. I immediately sought to hire a person able to write great content.
I experimented with various tools and techniques to help me build a picture up of my team's needs. One experiment involved taking personality tests based on a neuroscience framework called SPARK. The framework, like many others, purports to understand the abstract of a person's personality and juxtapose that against other profiles to gauge team fit.
I saw the team's clear distaste for the process. That gave me evidence to reduce the amount of process in the team. I focussed on making any process put in place to be low touch and low effort on the behalf of the designers it was designed to serve.
Having gained insight into how the team operated I was ready to set some OKRs for the team.
|Create a training programme||100% enrollment onto CPD|
|Create a career progression framework||Promote an employee up a level every 6 months|
|Establish day-to-day operations||Achieve a regular cadence of ceremonies and reporting on performance|
|Enhance the visibility of the design team's work||20% of official kudos in the organisation to members of the team|
|Allow designers to synchronise around a single source of truth||Launch a tool-agnostic platform to publish and share designs.|
A training framework
I believe that continued professional development is an essential part of professional life. I built an investigative framework that plotted the employees needs right back to their personality and life goals.
Only once a detailed picture of their needs was established could I go ahead and map those needs to the business needs and seek out suitable training.
All training started small, as small as a youtube video. As employees progressed, continued to show interest and aptitude so too did the level of investment from the business to support the development.
We identified together if the employee considered themselves individual contributors or people managers. We looked at this from the perspective of the now and the future.
I also identified them as rockstars or superstars, borrowing from Kim Scott's categorisation from her book Radical candor.
We looked at what motivated individuals and mapped them against Maslow's hierarchy of needs as framework to help extract these motivators during the interview.
A progression framework
In the earliest days of my tenure, there was no company-wide progression framework, so I developed my own. Or at least a mental model of one to help support employees develop their training programme.
Each employee had an initial session where we talked openly and frankly about any goals they may have had, what motivated them and whether they saw themselves as individual contributors or people managers.
Meanwhile, I helped HR develop the demonstratable characteristics we expected to see in individuals at different levels of competency. These levels and their descriptions form part of the performance reviews each employee now undertakes bi-annually. Although I would highly recommend these being quarterly if you can.
Dreaming big and Delivering small
From the outset, I worked with the Creative Director to form a symbiotic relationship rather than a combative one, the Ying and Yang brought form and function together.
Our Creative Director was an expert in creative direction, aesthetic, tone of voice, and illustration. He thrived in the conceptual space able to deliver, in a world of hypotheticals, something exciting and inspiring. His teams were responsible for capturing the imaginations of our clients and landing bids that would turn into product design work.
I lead the designers who focused on product development. These designers took the blue sky thinking, rationalised it into user stories and productionised it into working user flows. They would usually be found in a multi-disciplinary team using Scrum as a delivery methodology. I evangelised a dual-track Agile amongst product teams to ensure Design was properly integrated into the development process.
Maintaining motivation during COVID-19
I stand enamoured at the way the team conducted itself during the pandemic. Individuals were going through challenging times thanks to covid and their own personal matters but still managed to adapt and continue to develop professionally.
After few weeks working weekends on a side desk project in support of COVID-19 called Proven Patient I got the team to vote on a care package. They asked for Tamagotchis so I ordered 10 Tamagtochis out of pocket and got them delivered to their homes. The image here was the 'switching on' event, which was probably the highlight. As a team, we can safely say the nostalgia wears off after about 15 minutes. 😂