The Lattice Design team has grown from six to 39 in the last two and a half years! Outside of our day-to-day product, brand, content, and research work, we’ve also invested in several team initiatives in order to improve how we work together, spend more time together, and grow as a team. Things move really quickly at a rapidly growing company; it's important to focus on delivering value to our users. But it's also important to take time to reflect and act on the risks and obstacles that get in our way, as well as anticipate upcoming challenges in our next stage of growth.
We’ve practiced a goal-forming method that democratizes this process, allows for teammates to work on projects they're passionate about, and creates a sense of co-creation with teammates we don't get to work with every day. Below is an overview of what worked for us, what we've accomplished, and some learnings if you're interested in trying this out with your team.
Identify annual objectives
During our Virtual Offsite, Staff Product Designer Lakshmi Manikantan ran a retro to help us reflect on what made us happy, what propelled us forward, what slowed us down, and risks and obstacles we anticipate in the coming year. We thought about everything from projects and previous goals we had worked on, team rituals, as well as our Engagement theme scores.
From this retro, we identified some themes we wanted to focus the work on, and voted to form three high-level objectives to guide our work in the new year.
- Evolve processes to keep pace with team growth
- Improve cross-functional alignment
- Uplevel our craft
To really drive these goals forward, we built out a plan for each goal, including assigning ownership and establishing a way to follow up to check on progress.
- Sign up: Team members sign up as a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) or Partner on the goals. We house our signups in our Design Team space in Notion.
- Form and plan: Groups (DRI + partners) create and share plans to accomplish their KRs. Typically, the groups use Notion as their scratchpad to draft their plan, timeline, and anything else they need to accomplish the goal.
- Feedback: In Throw-up (our weekly low-pressure critique time), the DRI shares out the group's plans to accomplish their goal. The broader team shares feedback and asks questions before making the goals official.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Teams publish and get to work on their goals, working toward monthly check-ins with the wider team to share progress and get feedback.
- Formalize: DRIs add their goals into Lattice.
- Monthly check-ins: Check in as a team during Throw-up.
- Update your goal in Lattice to include:
- Progress you've made
- Learning so far (1 aha you’ve had either about the goal itself or the process)
- Any blockers or questions.
- Finalize: Wrap up, final review with team, mark progress and close out in Lattice.
- Repeat: As the quarter wraps up, we get a retro on the calendar and repeat this process!
What we accomplished in 2021 using this process
Evolve processes to keep pace with team growth
Evolving our design processes will help us keep up with our growth: new teammates, new roles, and new partnerships forming.
- Q1: Set up a team Donut to maintain our connections
- Q1: Audited our Brand and Product rituals and proposed adjustments
- Q2: Drove more frequent design feedback and context sharing (by 2x!)
- Q3: Created templates for easier context sharing
- Q4: Defined processes for brand + product design collaboration
Improve cross-functional alignment
Improving our cross-functional alignment will increase the quality of collaboration and partnerships across the organization.
- Q1: Ran an experiment to increase sense of alignment between Design and CX
- Q2: Created a Design + CX Crit Slack channel
- Q2: Created the Quarterly Design Team Newsletter (internal)
- Q3: Tested out dedicated CX partners for feedback, pairing, planning
- Q4: Ran experiments to partner closer with UI Engineering
Uplevel our craft
Upleveling our craft will increase the quality of our product and ultimately deliver an experience that employees love.
- Q1: Experimented with introducing design reviews into our design process
- Q2: Dedicated time to improving design components
- Q3: Audit of cross-product patterns
- Q4: Formed a Design at Lattice best practices toolkit
If you are curious about trying this out with your team, here are some learnings from the past year.
- Don't strive for perfection, things will get messy: Embrace the chaos. The most important thing is working toward something together.
- Get feedback on the process early and often from the team: You’ll want to make sure to reflect on the goal-setting process as a part of your quarterly goals retro and make adjustments as needed.
- Leverage Lattice Goals: We've been using the Goals product to track progress and facilitate our monthly update meetings. Anyone looking to leverage this process should find a way to track progress.
- Templatize as much as you can: Notion docs, emails, anything that helps streamline and scale the process will help keep the team on track.