Scale. It’s All Relative.

April 10, 2023

Scaling your internal team can look like anything from growing from two to five or 20 to 50. It’s not about the numbers but rather about shifting the playing field. It’s also about playing by design rules and not business rules. As designers, we need to create the experiences, know what we’re aspiring to, and go after it! 

The last session of AIGA’s Executive Leadership Summit, led by Doug Powell and Hal Wuertz, had attendees get to work. First, everyone created stakeholder maps to understand the key people in their organizations and as leaders, their interactions with these stakeholders. This exercise continued with mapping out all the people who are part of this interaction, highlighting who may have control over decision making, budget, and/or a stake in a project’s success. This exercise demonstrated an  expansive way to view your work world and the influences surrounding you. 

Attendees also sketched out personas of an individual on their stakeholder map so they could  project this individual’s drivers and pain points; what excites them about a project; and maybe even the projects that keep them up at night. Working in small groups, attendees discussed their influencer spheres within their organizations and the impact of design on this circle, and how they interact with and potentially influence them as well. 

This led into a third working session with attendees analyzing the metrics they want and need. 

What is the purpose of these exercises, other than to get attendees out of their seats and comfort zones? The intent was to better understand their  stakeholders and their businesses. Digging into the metrics and building on the concrete ideas  allowed the attending leaders to return home armed with steps for increasing design’s impact on their organizations. It was about analyzing the relationships that help foster a culture of understanding of design in their teams and businesses. 

Most importantly, these sessions allowed for generative conversations. The attendees built on the knowledge and areas of interest of their organization, their clients, and even society in general, while working within the constraints of what’s needed. That’s what building at scale is all about.