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Nurturing a growth mindset in a Design Community of Practice

Client: Public Sector (Civilian)


Established consistent and cohesive design patterns used by 12+ designers who span over 8 teams for an application management product.

About The Client

The client's tool used for the application approval process for an government organization. They have a portfolio of products spanning multiple cross-disciplinary product teams who collaborate to build a system for the application approval process.

My Role

Co-lead of design practice supporting 12+ designers

  • Coaching

  • Workshop Creation

  • Facilitation

  • Group Enablement


I moved from an individual contributor to a design practice lead role lasting 6 months. The 6-month contract extension included practice leadership coaching.

How will I make an impact on the design community practice within 6 months?


As a designer on one of the product teams for the previous 7 months, I knew that I was up against these 3 factors

User research was stuck
UI patterns and components had slight differences in the overarching product. Over time these differences grew into inconsistencies. 
Org changes at all levels, including portfolio leadership team, design practice leadership, and product teams 

Steps to identify how I can make an impact on the design community within 6 months

Qualitative Research
1:1 discussions with new client Design Practice Lead and experienced peers

Key Insights
Uncover opportunities for growth

Identify Goals
Focus on 3 potential design objectives

The Process


Identify goals of the design practice and the co-lead through 1-on-1 discussions

Identify their hopes, fears, and blockers that we can address now.

  • What does success look like?

  • What are they hoping to get if they do a good job?

  • What are they worried about?

  • What outcomes are they hoping to get?


Client design lead wants to: 

  • Define and grow as a practice leader

  • Solicit feedback from the design community

  • Provide clarity on the roles and responsibilities

  • Improve collaboration among designers

The Process


Share untapped opportunities with the client that lead to solutions

Review the client’s current high-level challenges and share solutions to resolve them. 

  • what should they continue to do?

  • what should they consider to start doing?


Distinguish the opportunities for client doing the work themselves and vs we can help them grow though leadership coaching

Celebrate what the client is currently doing well now and how far they’ve come. Emphasize where they are doing a great job.

The Process


Identify our project goals. What do we want to achieve during this extended engagement? 


Above: Example sticky notes of brainstorming session


Common themes started to surface 3 potential objectives that are achievable in 6 months:

  • Shared understanding of core principles and practices

  • Healthy roadmapping practice at all levels

  • Safe and continuous feedback culture

  • Accurate metrics that show success/need to pivot

  • Increase collaboration across the board

  • Improved connection between teams and portfolio team

  • Better understanding of roles

I outlined 3 achievable design objectives centered around core practices, feedback culture, collaboration among designers, and roles and responsibilities, with the support of design mentorship


Diversify experiments

Increased use of lean experiments and diversified research methods that exceed industry standards


Design consistency

Use consistent and cohesive design patterns are used across all product initiatives

Clarified roles


Increased transparency of the role, responsibilities, and key activities of a product designer

We developed 3 outcomes to focus on.
By the end of 6 months, the design community will accomplish...



At the end 6 months, a design library template with updated components was socialized among the designers, coaching and mentoring started to take off through group workshops and 1-on-1 pairing among designers, and more clarity about expectations about the full stack role of a designer.

PL-new methods.png

New Research Methods

Leveraged and taught other research methods beyond the status quo of user interviews.

Through workshops such as "Unmoderated Usability Testing" and "Beyond User Interviews", designers learned new methods and research.

Designers set up their first unmoderated test using the unmoderated usability testing tool. 

Designers learned how-to instructions on running a Frankenstein workshop with stakeholders and users. Designers now have a new activity in their toolbox.

PL-template file.png

Design Component Library

A design component library file template was socialized among 14+ designers and maintained by core committee on a monthly basis.

Designers prototype faster, complete sprints in less time, and use the correct components by using the Design Component Library. This benefits teams as research rounds are shortened, leading to user stories written and completed more quickly. Designs can be created faster, and less time is used by each designer to build out their library.

Designers are thinking more systematically about the existing and new components. They collaborate regularly on design components, which are shared across the product and new components. Designers are now considering user actions across all the products rather than their own product. 


Improved Collaboration

A culture of mentorship and coaching among peers is eagerly accepted by designers and advocated for by client Leadership.

Pivoted objective to design practice leads have assessed designers' skillset (through skills matrix) and have defined the professional goals for 2023 that align with overarching portfolio goals.

Designers are able to quantify and share their accomplishments

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