Transcript from the "Wrapping Up" Lesson
>> So I can definitely encourage you this concept of like starting how you want to end, I think is really important in systems work. So what I'm suggesting here is that if you don't model early on how you expect to interact with your subscribers, it's gonna be really difficult to change that over time.
[00:00:19] We kind of hinted at this a little bit earlier, but by default, contributing to the system is kind of them collaborating with you, right? So if we take that as an example, if you start your stage one work with just, we're just gonna build the thing we think you need, that's not a really collaborative approach, right?
[00:00:38] So if you take that tack at the beginning, when you come back to them later on and ask them to start contributing, that's now you're shifting. You're changing the mindset from, you just did the work in stage one now you want us to help, [LAUGH] right? So we got to think a little bit about the patterns we're establishing in terms of behaviors with each other.
[00:00:57] And think about what it is that you want at the end and behave that way at the beginning is one way to kind of make sure you're setting yourself up well for that. I definitely mentioned this earlier, but this stuff takes a lot of time. I'm writing a piece now called, the most critical component in your design system is time, [LAUGH] right?
[00:01:19] It's not the hard navigation or the whatever footer or header thing, it's just time. You have to survive long enough to show value. That's the hard part about systems work. So I think it's really important that you communicate that to leadership. I think when they recognize that you can make the case and say look, we got to move through these stages.
[00:01:40] It's gonna take us time to show value, but we'll get there. If they understand that going in, they're gonna be a lot more receptive to the need for more time as you grow and mature. Regarding adoption we talked a little bit about this but, really without trustworthy adoption metrics, you can't measure anything else.
[00:02:00] It's just really hard to do. So I would say you've got to spend the time to kind of break it down, and I tried to cover that in each of those deep dive sections the ways that you can go about during that. But once you have that, the closer you can get to the money the safer you are.
[00:02:16] And I just mean like, show how much money you're saving, right? You gotta get to that. And usually that's efficiency, that kind of thing. So gotta connect it to the dollar bills at some point. This is another thing I think is really important. Let's just say you're hoping that your system will get you 20% efficiency, just pick a number, right?
[00:02:44] Well, that's great except that if you're able to do the work 20% when you have 20% left, you're doing it at 80% of the time. That 20% of gain that you're getting is just, I guarantee you, gonna get piled in more stuff, right? Your leaders are gonna be like, okay sweet, you can get more done in the same amount of time.
[00:03:04] So what I would recommend is that you go in at the beginning with a plan for those gains, right? Go in saying, hey, we're gonna be faster eventually. As we show that efficiency, we're gonna spend more time in innovation or quality or whatever it is that the organization really needs, right?
[00:03:21] This is another way for you to add value. So you might say, let's focus in on, we're gonna add different levels of quality metrics to our work as we gain efficiency. And so that might mean we're adding in kind of what you were describing earlier, a check for accessibility and a check for inclusivity.
[00:03:38] And now we have time to do that stuff that we just didn't make time for before. So, if you don't go in with this plan, I guarantee you it will get sucked up into something else real quick. So, you've gotta be proactive about that. [LAUGH] We didn't talk a lot about documentation sites, but I'll say one of the things I've learned is that discoverability is really important for you in your dockside especially.
[00:04:07] Basically that's just because if people can't find the stuff, they just won't use it. So you gotta make space. You've gotta make it so that it's really easily searchable. It's worth it to kinda put in lots of different information using different language, the stuff that people might search for.
[00:04:27] So just because you call it an alert, somebody else might call it something else. So think about all those options, right? And think about how you can use that language to kind of say, hey, you might also know this as X, Y, Z. So when people are searching for these other things, they're discovering the pieces and parts that they need to be finding.
[00:04:44] And this gets especially important if you decide to shift the model of your system away from sort of just that one system to rule them all, all right? As soon as you kind of constrained down on having a more limited core, like main system and then allowing product or feature groups to own their own little bit of domain as an extension of that system.
[00:05:06] Now all of a sudden, they may be building stuff that could be helpful to other folks too. So, there needs to be a place where that stuff lives so other teams can be exposed to the work of other product or feature teams. So discoverability becomes really important in all of those situations.
[00:05:22] We did talk very quickly about this concept, but your system is never gonna be in sync fully. It's just almost impossible to do it. So really just being really transparent about the state of things and having a nice clear way to indicate the state of everything is actually a really good way to handle that.
[00:05:40] Again, it's about sort of aligning their expectations with what they're getting to the reality. And that will go a long way toward helping build trust and that kind of thing. Just a handful of resources for you. Every year Sparkbox does a big industry-wide Design System Survey. So you can see all of the past five years at this URL, and if you just search Design System Survey, you'll find that as well.
[00:06:10] There's some really interesting data. It's kind of fun to look at how things have changed over the years. So I would encourage you to take a quick look through those sites and just see if there's anything that might be helpful for you, especially if you're talking to leadership and you just need some data points, that kind of thing.
[00:06:23] We've run some of our own little studies as well. So we did one just to show to kind of like test a theory, right? Do Design Systems actually have an impact on our efficiency? So we did a quick test you can kind of see the results of that study here again this is the kind of stuff that sometimes certain leaders will value this kind of thing, certain ones won't.
[00:06:43] But if you have somebody you're having a hard time convincing something like this might help. I worked with one of my colleagues to develop, we just call it a design system calendar. I think as I got more into this stuff, I started realizing, boy, there's just a lot of stuff here to kind of keep track of.
[00:07:01] There's a lot of things, a lot of activities I should be doing. So what this does, it's just a really simple calendar subscription. It just adds a little thing at the top like a day-long event. So it's kind of out of the way. But if you are interested on a Monday, you might get a little note that says, hey, why don't you do an interview with a stakeholder today.
[00:07:18] It's encouraging you to think maybe a little bit outside of that kind of myopic sort of let's just make the system better all day long kind of focus we can find ourselves in. So you can subscribe to it here and just have it show up wherever you calendar.
[00:07:31] [LAUGH] And we try to keep a pulse on what's happening in the space around events too. So we'll add things like that to the calendar too so you can see those coming up. I did talk a little bit about selling design systems here but I've written a lot more about that.
[00:07:47] You can see that on this solace depart article here. It's just a big part of what we have to do. We are the only sales people for this stuff, and if you don't sell it, it's not gonna get bought. [LAUGH] So you got to spend time doing that.
[00:08:01] So that might be something that's helpful. There's some conversation in this article around metrics as well. I've given you some ideas on things to track for certain types of leaders. We also spent a bunch of time developing a design system maturity model assessment. So this doesn't cost you anything, you can just get on this thing and fill it out yourself.
[00:08:21] It's very simple. You answer a handful of questions and it's sort of points you in a direction of where it seems like your maturity probably is. And it gives you some really good advice based on the origin story and the maturity level that you kind of indicate by answering the questions in the assessment.
[00:08:38] And of course we do much deeper dives on this stuff if you want, a third party perspective on it. I just wanna say thank you so much for spending all this time with me. It's wonderful to hear how some of this stuff has impacted you or could possibly help you be a little bit more successful in the future.
[00:08:53] I love talking about this stuff so I would love for you to send me an email. This is my contact information. I'm on Twitter and Mastodon and other socials as Ben Callahan. And I made a little forum for you if you have feedback on this presentation, if you have ideas, if you have stories that don't line up with this stuff, I would love to hear those.
[00:09:10] I'm collecting lots and lots of data still, and will continue to do so. But if you just wanna say hello or if you have something to share, please take some time to do that. And I just wanna lastly thank my team at Sparkbox for really surrounding me in this effort for years now.
[00:09:27] I'm really fortunate that I get to spend a lot of my time doing this research and just really digging in on this. I am so very proud to work with these folks. They're all delightful. You can see their smiling faces on sparkbox.com. [LAUGH] Thank you all so much.