How Agile Gives Designers a Seat at the Table

By Sophie Jasson-Holt and Amy Lee Evans

3 minute read

Designers Feel the Heat

Does your design job feel like you are working in a hot kitchen? Tickets come flying in and pile up quickly. Chaos soon ensues. Design team work streams and professional kitchens share similar demands – deliver high quality and do it fast. Professional kitchens use a brigade system to efficiently deliver pristine plates in a fast-paced environment.

What is a brigade system? What does it have to do with design teams?

The brigade system was invented by Escoffier in the late 19th century and is still used in most restaurants today. It is based on a military structure and establishes roles and workflow in professional kitchens. Agile is a kind of modern brigade system for design teams and also establishes roles and workflow for digital product teams.

Missing the Mark

One of the worst outcomes in a restaurant is when a customer returns a plate of food. Like in design, one of the worst outcomes is when the creative misses the mark. This wastes time, resources and leads to unhappy teams. Agile helps to reduce this outcome.

Agile can infuse order into chaos. And now with a more predictable workflow, design teams can innovate more relevant designs for customers and buyers. More innovation leads to more success and to happier design teams.

A River of Changes Breaks the Bank

Many designers work in an environment where requests are ad-hoc, tracked via email, and not managed or prioritized. Where changes are like an open spigot, leaving no time to concept and reflect on the end-to-end customer journey. This can be maddening, inefficient, and can negatively impact the bottom line.

Before Agile

In our experience we noticed some common themes for unhappy design teams.

fter Agile

When introducing agile processes to a design team, we noticed a few key actions that helped us grow and take charge of the design requests flowing from various channels.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words we sketched a typical 2-week sprint, with key events and benefits for a design team.

Two-Week Design Sprint

 

Please use it as a guideline for crafting your own agile design process. For a deeper dive into Agile.

Prime Your Palate with this Amuse Bouche

What is an Amuse Bouche? A playful palette cleanser served during a meal. Adopting agile can seem foreign. Stop and try something different. Take a walk on the wild side. In our experience adopting agile for designers can be a game changer.

With the right process, stress levels plummet and team performance rises. As Jay Vidyarthi says “The consistent clockwork of a stable and repeating design process has also helped us create and maintain a human-centered design culture at Muse.”

When we are more efficient, we realize the valuable gift of extra time, a rare commodity in today’s workplace. More time generates greater opportunities for innovation and exploration. Much like the winning strategies of the kitchen brigade team, design teams can improve workflow using the right mix of agile and can happily march towards success without fighting fires.

Let Amy or Sophie know if you are planning an agile design process. We are happy to answer any of your questions.

About the Authors

Sophie Jasson-Holt

I’m a digital and content marketing consultant, process nerd and builder of teams. I love tackling big problems that can help with your sales, product, program and project initiatives. I am also a Chef and a recent graduate of culinary school. I see where cooking, marketing and process intersect and love to write about it.

Amy Lee Evans

I’m a creative team leader and digital consultant. I’m passionate about user experiences and empowering teams to succeed. I’m also a foodie at heart. When I’m baking, I love to experiment with recipes to see how small changes can make a big difference. I also carry this thinking into my work life.