Enterprise Design Systems Management

Maturity Model Exercise & Discussion

Ben Callahan

Ben Callahan

Enterprise Design Systems Management

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The "Maturity Model Exercise & Discussion" Lesson is part of the full, Enterprise Design Systems Management course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Ben instructs students to identify their design system's origin story and current stage and then discusses some student answers. Student questions regarding how to gain executive support for stage two and handling third-party involvement.


Transcript from the "Maturity Model Exercise & Discussion" Lesson

>> So, I actually wanna take just a moment for us here and for those of you who are online. To just for you to sketch out, you can do this on a piece of paper, in a spreadsheet or however you feel comfortable doing it. But identify for me where is your maturity level, so far based on what I've shared with you, and what origin story path have you taken?

So you can sketch out something like this, just these little eight boxes will be enough for you to kinda sketch that. We can take just a moment, but if anybody here wants to share and they can see it and they know pretty well, if you can just call it out I'd love to hear.

>> Story that you told where you are grassroots until stage 2 and then you have all of this budget. I feel we're just on the cusp of executive leaders understanding the importance of this.
>> Yeah.
>> Where they're gonna start throw a whole bunch of money at it.

Maybe it's a good thing, maybe it's a bad thing.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Yeah, that was a scary reality to see that, cuz that's exactly where we stand right now
>> Yeah, that's actually really exciting. I mean, that's a huge potential in that situation. So, that means you probably have built something so far that's actually really valuable, right?

>> And then it all comes down to the accessibility part. I think there's a very large push to make sure that we're ADA compliant.
>> Yeah.
>> So seeing some of the very core elements that we're putting together and actually walking through with the executive leaders. How a screen reader would interact with this particular input, has made them realize the importance of what we're doing.

>> I love that because I feel a lot of the work that I do in consulting is helping my clients, so that might be a design system lead. In a coaching scenario, identify what are the things that specific leaders care about. And we try to understand then how we can sorta formulate a version of a story of the system that tells it in a way that shows that benefit, right?

So in that case, if you've got leaders who, they know they're afraid of that lawsuit coming in because of accessibility, it's very simple to tell that story with the design system. I have others where, I'm actually doing some work right now around sustainability. So how do we create products that do a better job managing carbon and our impact on the environment?

Well, there's lots of ways to do that, and if you are willing to kinda do the work at the systematic level. You can spread all of that really good sustainable design and development practice across the organization much faster than trying to educate all those teams independently. So lots of stories that can be told to help create that interest from leadership.

Anyone else wanna share sorta where they were and their journey a little?
>> Yeah, I'd say we're a company of 18, so everything feels grassroots and top down.
>> [LAUGH]
>> I'd put us in the stage 1, halfway.
>> Yeah, okay. Yeah, totally cool. And I think especially in smaller organizations, the lines between those things are definitely compressed, right?

For sure, so yeah, you guys?
>> We're definitely top down and I think this is a common probably pattern for a lot of lager organizations. It comes down either through engineering or through design.
>> Yes.
>> Typically through design, although not exclusively.
>> Yeah.
>> And that raises really interesting challenges, cuz the bias then becomes on design and often operates a little bit too independent of engineering insight.

And yeah, we're kinda I think somewhere between stage 2 and stage 3. I think we have all [LAUGH] the challenges of stage 3, and we're still in stage 2.
>> Yeah.
>> It's, very much feels like teenage years [LAUGH].
>> Yeah, I get that. And we're gonna talk a little bit later about what I call the teeter totter maturity.

Which is where we move between 2 and 3, back and forth and back and forth. And I'll try to kinda give you some ideas on ways to prevent that. It's really common, I have worked with teams who have spent years struggling between those two stages. And there's a few things you have to get right in order to move to stage 3 really solidly, so, maybe some of that would be helpful.

Okay, so the next thing I actually wanna have you to do, is also just for you in your heads at this moment. But I want you to think about, one or two things that you think you have to do in order to move into the next stage of maturity.

So just take a moment and jot those ideas down. So while you're doing that, I'll also just say, if there's questions about so, I've given you a very, very high level of the maturity stages. We're gonna deep dive into each of those in a few moments, but, are there questions about those stages or questions about the origin story concept?

Anything that we can address here before we move into the framework for how to mature?
>> Could you give some examples, you talked about how it happens from the grassroots and then getting some support-
>> Yeah.
>> From the top, and then that, what about the opposite of that?

>> Yeah.
>> What would you recommend or things you've seen around maybe the inverse of that?
>> Yeah, getting buy-in from subscribers, right? So, I love just the idea that the goal of your system should be, if you want to move through Stage 2. One of the things you gotta do is build something people can't imagine doing their jobs without, right?

That's the value side of it. So, the way you get to that is you, gonna depend on culture again. So we'll touch on some of this later, all these things kinda intersect. But in general, what you have to do is engage with those subscribers. You need to be building relationships with those folks, you need to understand the real problems they're facing.

I actually love the idea of just, if you're in the Ux space, you've probably done some observation of users, right? I think that's incredibly powerful and really underrated and design system work. If you're on a systems team and you wanna understand what problems you can help a user or subscriber consumer solve.

Get some time to just observe them doing their job for a couple of days, right? You're gonna learn so much about the way that they work, what problems they're facing, even just in their workflows that you can probably address with the system. And that's how you're doing the work to understand, what are the real problems they're solving?

Instead of the system being something that actually takes more work for them to use, right? We're also gonna spend some time talking about adoption journeys for your subscribers, so there's a couple models there. And so that will definitely, we're gonna touch on three specific things about setting expectations a little better, about making it easy for them, that kinda stuff.

So, we're gonna get to that for sure, if I don't cover more specifically what you need, just re-ask, okay? Awesome.
>> Just a comment from chat.
>> Yeah.
>> My team has top down stage 1, big reads design. Started by an agency and now being pushed at the same time as a new corporate site Leo.

>> Okay, yeah, it's interesting having a third party involved too, right? Having somebody from the outside coming in to do the work. I mean, that's the work that I do, [LAUGH] all right? But I'm also wary of it a little bit, because Design System is something that has to be.

It almost is like it's part of the fabric of the organization, more than a product, right? And this is why I don't like the idea of thinking about a system only as a product. I think it has to be bigger than that, it has to sorta have roots in other parts of the organization, has to be that full program inside.

Having a third party come in to help, I think can be good, but they have to take the approach of understanding that they're collaborating with you, not delivering something to you. So if they can truly partner with you, if they can kinda get into the weeds, and you can do the work together.

It's actually a really good way to get some outside perspective, maybe some experience from other engagements. But to also move you faster toward a healthy maturity, but they've got to understand that they can't just walk away [LAUGH]. Cuz that, and we're gonna talk about one of the risks for really mature systems that are wholly dependent on individual expertise and not taking away to systematize that maturity too.

So that's a common risk I could say with a third party, but hopefully that went well and you feel good about the material they gave you. Okay.
>> Another comment.
>> Okay, yeah, go.
>> A design system feels very personal, like clothing. Someone else can't wear it and tell you it fits, you need to wear it and work with it.

>> Yeah, that's true. I think that I love that analogy, I've never thought quite about it in that way, but that's cool. But also there's ways to get, custom tailor-made suits, and you can't really do that on your own, right? So I think that analogy may be stretches into a way where it's, do I want this thing to really fit?

I need to either do the work to have that expertise in house to understand how to make it really fit what we need. Or I need to figure out, attending events like this or finding the communities out there of folks who are doing this work and willing to share their processes.

That will help you kinda level up too, so you can really lead your team in this example into a really good fit [LAUGH]

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