- Resourceful leaders are finding ways to do more with less and to find the talent they need to deliver on complex projects.
- Redeploying staff within and outside the company can generate new ideas.
- Retooling skills are needed to match the specific skills required for existing projects.
- Realigning teams maximizes productivity and efficiency.
Listen: How leaders maximize results despite limited resources.
Resourceful leaders are looking for new ways to do more with less and to find the talent they need to deliver on complex projects. Whether working with smaller budgets, limited resources, or tight timelines, by leveraging their creativity, experience, and expertise, design leaders can help their teams overcome these challenges and deliver exceptional results.
To tackle this issue of doing more with less, our InsideOut Design Leader Community met to discuss how they're making the most of available resources to stay ahead and deliver results that create more value for the business. Following are some actionable tips from design and operations leaders who joined our recent roundtables.
Redeploy staff—inside and outside the company
The changes required for a firm to succeed in challenging times go beyond simple efficiency tactics used to increase ROI. Industrious business leaders are looking to other internal teams or even other companies to share talented team members. Insights from the infusion of fresh talent can generate new ideas and enable companies to retain critical staff. Here are two redeployment methods that can help:
To gain inspiration and recharge creativity, leaders are partnering with design talent outside their own organization. Leaders in divergent industries, like Hallmark and Starbucks, have successfully made this work to their advantage. Now that almost every team is set up to work virtually, this approach is even more viable and less costly.
Providing visibility to projects and available resources across the organization enables leaders to rapidly redeploy staff to deliver on business objectives. Instead of just looking at their own team, leaders are finding talent in other departments and creating fluid workflows that maximize output. One leader shared UX staff with their customer care department to help handle over 70,000 inbound customer requests.
Retool skills to match the business
Every company has its own approach to career development. Given the rapid rate of change required to compete in today's market, those processes are simply not fast enough. Leaders are looking beyond legacy training systems to enhance or teach the specific skills that match the challenges of work today.
Skill gap mitigation
After assessing what skills are needed to complete existing projects, leaders are working with employees to find out what interests them and how their skills can contribute toward the company's goals. One leader reviewed over 600 open projects, prioritized them based on urgency, and cross-trained their print designers on basic web skills to handle low-level digital tasks. The longer-term impact of training teams will be a stronger, more versatile group that future leaders can flex to meet project needs.
Technology as an accelerator
One leader re-introduced a sidelined Design System project as work slowed down. Internal projects like these that are often not prioritized can be a powerful way to add value to the brand and engage staff. Another leader brought on a freelancer to guide their transition to digital routing after introducing a new workflow tool. Many leaders are choosing to deploy systems and tools that will improve results both now and later.
Realign team to maximize productivity
To address bottom-line concerns, design leaders are ensuring processes and staff are right-sized to the current project load. Organizational structures that made perfect sense when originally created can now be a hurdle to productivity. It's important to consistently reassess and look objectively at roles, responsibilities, and workflows to align resources for maximum impact.
Revisit the organizational chart
One leader suggests imagining what you would do without specific roles on the chart. How would you get the work done, and who would do it? Considering possibilities in the absence of a role can uncover creative solutions and determine real needs. Another leader recently reorganized, moving from dedicated design resources to a shared pool to become more nimble as they respond to shifting priorities.
Think beyond today
Though roadmaps are being rewritten in real time, one leader advises looking as far in advance as possible at what the business is trying to achieve. Instead of reacting to the deadlines of today, leaders must flash forward and align with the future. In the same way technology can speed up change, adjusting structures to handle projects such as digital communications or virtual customer interactions can add value long term.
While making these team adjustments maximizes efficiency, a continued benefit can be improved retention, offering a long-term positive impact. Exposure to new ways of working, either inside or outside the company, can also improve processes, inspire creativity, and increase productivity. Overall, quickly matching skills to immediate business needs is critical to an organization's economic health and to the employees who depend on it.
If you're a senior design, experience, or operations leader of an in-house team at a high profile brand and want to connect with others who share your unique challenges, let's talk. Our InsideOut community hosts roundtables to help support the learning and growth of our members, and I'm honored to facilitate those discussions.
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