Leveling up Design Team Operations

Kentico Design Team (2020 - 2021)

2020, challenging times for all of us.
However we managed to improve our way of working in as a team at Kentico. The role I had gradually and organically shifted from just contributing design expertise and creating better product to influencing how out team and organization works and looked like. All this happened while receiveing mentorship and sponsorship of our VP of design, shadowing him and helping him out in some of his leadership tasks - an opportunity I'm grateful for to this day.

Here are my highlights for the 20/21 season at Kentico Design:


Implementing a new design QA process

The question of how to make sure we deliver the best quality of design possible was long overdue in the team. We improved our feedback and review process as well as started a practice of regular product-wide usability checks to track the trends and overall usability issues. If you're interested, here you can read about The 5 tools we used to maintain the quality of design.


Increasing the design team visibility

We held 5 events, all with great talks by our own team members. Jump started social media presence - Twitter and YouTube channel, activated the team and participated in local community events (very helpful in sourcing new candidates).


Holding dozens of interviews and hiring 5 new teammates

Personally - one of my best experiences of the period - from sourcing, headhunting, informal ☕️ chats, to being on the opposite side of the interviewing table. And also having the responsibility of finding a good fit for the team and the product. But very proud and honored to be a part of this and to be able to strengthen the team by 50% increase in headcount.
I wrote about my learnings from this - particularly about 🚩 red flags when hiring designers and 5 questions I would love to hear from UX candidates.


Revamping the onboarding

Welcoming new members of the design team and helping them to start with their best foot forward took a bit more preparation. I drove the initiative and with the help and feedback from the team we revamped our old (and fairly insufficient) onboarding process. and couple months late I gave a talk about it on a UX Monday event in Prague.


Upgrading the career progression paths

The Onboarding process wasn't the only one in need of care and update. Again facilitated as a team activity during a couple of workshop sessions we defined and crafted a new, more comprehensive and transparent way for designers to move to new skills and responsibilities, how to own them and bring better value to their product teams and the organization as a whole.


Piloting team skill and health check

Loosely based on similar frameworks from Figma and Miro teams, I facilitated a round of self explorative workshops with our design team. We identified & mapped our strengths and opportunities bot as individuals and as teams. This helped us in tailoring our hiring objectives to fit better to team and org. needs as well as identifying where can we learn best from each other as seasoned professionals.


Creating a system for sharing
design capacity

2020 put its toll on all members of the design team. I sensed that we're starting to stretch quite thin in our outcomes, aspirations and energy. Inspired by some activist circles, we created a "capacity scarf" - a ritual of weekly sharing and noting down our individual capacity and energy levels. This way we could better tailor our outputs, manage stakeholder expectations and help each other with our workload when times got tough for some of us. 💪


Bridging historical organizational silos

After observing some friction points in our product release and sales operations I iteratively created a better collaboration model for cross-department work and responsibilities between Product, Sales, Marketing and CS. Using design, research a bit of service and org. design tools I was able to map out and successfully transform our processes and working habits. This new alignment and efficiency helped us to ship the helpful stuff to our customers smoother and faster than before.



Being able to help out other designers (be them junior or seasoned senior professionals), nurture up-and-coming talent, share knowledge and skills or open doors and connect right people with right opportunities was just the most rewarding experience of the year. I'm glad I could try and train this on a smaller playground of Central European design community. In the future I'd love to help out more in orgs such as ADPList or Femme Pallete for sure. 🎓

What did I learn:

  1. Leadership work is not the same league but completely different sport than being just pure individual contributor

  2. As designers we have a unique set of tools and skill to enable the organization grow. We should use it more and outside of our product domain.

  3. I love to help others grow and empower teams to do their best. Of course it has its struggles, but the payoffs and rewards are just scales better and greater!

© Peter Rod. All rights reserved.

Thank you

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Thank you

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