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Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams

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Design has become the key link between users and today's complex and rapidly evolving digital experiences, and designers are starting to be included in strategic conversations about the products and services that enterprises ultimately deliver. This has led to companies building in-house digital/experience design teams at unprecedented rates, but many of them don't understand how to get the most out of their investment. This practical guide provides guidelines for creating and leading design teams within your organization, and explores ways to use design as part of broader strategic planning.

You'll discover:

Why design's role has evolved in the digital age
How to infuse design into every product and service experience
The 12 qualities of effective design organizations
How to structure your design team through a Centralized Partnership
Design team roles and evolution
The process of recruiting and hiring designers
How to manage your design team and promote professional growth

198 pages, Paperback

First published August 22, 2016

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About the author

Peter Merholz

4 books4 followers

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5 stars
243 (43%)
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231 (41%)
3 stars
74 (13%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Mindaugas Mozūras.
293 reviews158 followers
July 6, 2021
Too often, designers practice design-for-design’s-sake, where what’s produced, however cool or innovative, isn’t connected with the company’s goals.

I found "Org Design for Design Orgs" to be an ok book. Mind you, I'm not the target audience - as my background is purely engineering. I've also read many other leadership books in the past, so the content itself was rarely insightful.

If you're a design leader and you can read only one book, this one by Peter Merholz is a good choice. It's shallow but gives a good overview of many different parts of the leadership job. It doesn't focus purely on "org design", but goes into other related topics too (hiring, culture, performance management).

The author tends to put designers on the pedestal, which I found a bit grating at times (an actual quote: "Recruiters need to understand that designers are a different breed of employee"). A lot of the advice in this book works for other fields as well, but the author doesn't always seem aware of that.

Specifically, the "org design" part of the book was disappointing. The focus is squarely on one recipe without teaching how to think about different structures and their trade-offs. It's a good recipe, but I expected a cooking lesson.
Profile Image for Vuk Trifkovic.
513 reviews41 followers
November 24, 2016
Short, to the point and full of insight. Must read for anyone working with or building design teams...
Profile Image for Erin DeLaney.
277 reviews
January 17, 2021
Great book about the purpose, strategy, and organization of design teams and departments in today's industry. I used this book to inform the structure of how my company approaches design, as well as other departments. A particular concept I appreciated was the levels of scale different roles should be operating at as a percentage of their job. (The big picture, Strategy, Structure, Surface)
Profile Image for Sashko Valyus.
199 reviews9 followers
April 5, 2019
Книга проте як будувати і розвивати внутрішні дизайн команди. Містить купу інсайтів про структуру, рекрутинг, мотивацію і персональний розвиток дизайнерів. Додатково покриває розвиток дизайн-культури та роботу в кросфункційних командах. Має методичне спрямування з мінімумом води. Дуже добре підходить не тільки тим хто працює в продуктових компаніях, але і для сервісних також.

Дає відповіді на запитання
— чи працювати дизайнерам разом, чи сидіти разом з проектною командою
— як рекрутити дизайнерів, щоб вони відгукувались на вакансії і йшли до вас працювати
— яких спеціалістів і в якій кількості потріно «заводити» по мірі росту кількості дизайнерів в компанії
— як без ефективно менеждити очікуванння під час роботи в кросс-функційних командах

Одна з кращих книг цього року які я прочитав. Неочікувано, більшість речей які там пише у нас в компанії в тій чи іншій мірі вже імплементовано
Profile Image for Davor.
59 reviews1 follower
July 19, 2017
If you are a design leader on the rise or even a seasoned one, this is an indispensable guide on how design teams should be built, grown and lead. While reading it, I recognized countless examples of both good and bad practices from my own experience. I also learned a lot, both on how I could have done things better myself, as well as how I can start improving right now and in the future. It is exactly abundant experience of the authors, told with simple and easy to understand language, which is obvious in every page of this excellent book. Couldn't recommend it more!
8 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2018
Essential reading for anyone interested in managing an effective in-house design team. The focus is less on interteam dynamics (or design thinking), and more on managing external relationships, human resources, and structuring within a larger organization. The hiring chapter makes this a great gift for your HR manager, and the focus on culture and management over buzzwords makes it actually useful for generating innovations and well designed products.
10 reviews8 followers
January 9, 2018
So Design won… Now what?

Great practical approaches to make sure that Deign has the leadership, structural, and operational chops to take full advantage of the seat it has gained at the business leadership table. Fully recommend for design and business leaders who want to grok the advantages and structure of great design orgs.
Profile Image for Arganka Yahya.
16 reviews3 followers
November 27, 2016
Impressive text with practical examples. Really useful for design leaders or someone who want to establish in-house design organization.
Profile Image for Kurt Yalcin.
9 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2018
Really great book! I had my own personal issues around specific parts (reliance on the Diamond Process, advocating for the Product Designer title, etc.), but as a whole, it was an awesome read.
Profile Image for Candi.
110 reviews7 followers
August 16, 2019
I was originally recommended this book by Kevin Hoffman after his talk about Design Operations. I felt like it lightly talked about Design Ops but I think overall, it was a great book about design teams. At my current workplace, our design team has been growing. When I first started, we didn't have dedicated design resources for product. Now we have a handful of people. I think it's important to understand the team structure at other companies and adjust your own team as needed. We don't currently have a content strategist or a UX researcher, but that leveling framework is definitely a great guide for us to start with.

I think this would be good for design managers or even groups looking to grow their design team.
Profile Image for Milana Stanic.
16 reviews8 followers
October 31, 2021
This one is a must read not only if you are a design lead but also if you are any kind of lead in the software making business. It explains the ins and outs of how design department functions, what are the common mistakes and points out the obvious problems that plague so many organizations. If you are in the business a really long time and think there is nothing new you can learn, guess again 😂 I was so pleasantly surprised to find a well written concise and non pretentious summary of the state of design in the industry. Full recommendation, especially if you are looking to increase the design maturity of your company.
8 reviews
August 16, 2021
A very interesting book about design! I recently started to renovate my house. According to this book, I was able to do a lot of things in the house. It came to the outside of the house. I decided that I want to put metal panels. I found out on the Internet that there is an alucobond installation. These guys have been installing beautiful metal panels on the facade of buildings for a long time! Now my house looks new and beautiful! I recommend it!
Profile Image for Lance Willett.
167 reviews13 followers
October 30, 2018
A concise and authoritative guide to organizing design teams. Just the best parts.

The key element in this book that applies to my Product Management work is understanding the Centralized Partnership model for cross-functional teams working on shared projects, yet reporting to leaders and mentors in their own function. The best of both worlds because it combines the speed and quality of embedded teams with the efficiency and consistency of a centralized function.

Profile Image for Erin Weigel.
66 reviews14 followers
October 23, 2016
This is a great book if you're new to leading a design team, large or small. It has lots of practical, actionable advice and observations about hiring, working with, and leading designers. I will definitely take some of the learnings from this book and apply them to my job to see how they work out.
Profile Image for Serendipity.
75 reviews
March 16, 2019
I won this book at a Rethink event in SF on Design Ops, where it was recommended as “the Bible of Design Ops”. The book is delightful, simply written, and intensely practical. I was able to read it quite quickly, and find many points that either resonated with me or I could use as a measure to apply to my own design team experience.
15 reviews
July 25, 2019
Book on very interesting topic, creating/managing design teams and some practical advice on creating design culture within the organisation and full of actionable insights however in some parts, it lacks substance as the argument becomes a one way street and a personal opinion rather than a proven method... Still a great read!
Profile Image for Anton Nikolov.
100 reviews3 followers
May 10, 2021
A good book to give you interesting ideas on building your design team and the different aspects of that challenging task from deciding when it is time to grow the team to onboarding and interacting with new members of the team. I think it is a nice addition to a designer's library and especially for design managers.
Profile Image for sarah semark.
187 reviews5 followers
June 19, 2018
Pretty dry overall, but it makes a great case for how to structure design within an organisation in a way that keeps designers happy, challenged, and producing their best work, with well-reasoned arguments.
Profile Image for Yana Sanko.
7 reviews4 followers
July 16, 2018
I think this book could be very helpful for someone who is thinking of the best way to build design organization. The part explaining design competency framework could also be very useful is you think to start career in design. Some ideas and tips were interesting, however I guess I expected more.
Profile Image for Janel.
27 reviews
August 6, 2019
It’s structured in a way that you don’t have to read cover to cover, but dip into a particular topic of interest, but you might end up reading it in full. It’s a comprehensive summary of all the things to consider when building, scaling and maintaining a design team.
33 reviews
August 20, 2019
Great practical overview for design leaders. My team has grown from 2 to 8 people and I’m at a critical moment, needing to think about structure and culture as I’m less directly involved in “the work”.

Will be turning to this repeatedly as a resource in the coming weeks and months.
Profile Image for Corina.
133 reviews6 followers
October 23, 2019
Helpful guide for new design managers that has many of the basics gathered from how to screen a portfolio as a hiring manager to how to run a team weekly meeting. I was hoping for more discussion and case studies specifically around different design org designs.
Profile Image for Karen.
86 reviews4 followers
August 9, 2021
A condense volume covering all aspects of setting up a design team, thoughts on how to integrate with companies in-house, and managing designer workload effectively. It's given me a lot to think about!
Profile Image for Lucas.
39 reviews10 followers
October 29, 2018
Required read for ambitious teams

Incredibly useful advice for design organizations that are on a growth trajectory and for individuals who want to take part on leading this journey
Profile Image for Marion Boberg.
11 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2019
very useful to understand what design organisation fits, a company based on their design maturity.
Profile Image for Andrew.
22 reviews
January 16, 2021
I'm going to keep this one close by, it will surely become a regular reference.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews

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