At the furthest extremes, design team meetings can often resemble something out of Lord of the Flies where chaos reigns and there is absolutely no plan;

Or, design meetings can be completely consumed by just one person that loves the sound of their own voice but isn’t actually bringing anything useful to the table;

Or, sometimes, design meetings are just desolate wastelands of silence where nobody has anything to say at all;

Improving your team meeting

So, having sat through hundreds of design team meetings, running the gamut from ‘Oh god get me out of here‘ to ‘Hey, I actually enjoyed that!‘, I’ve realised that any time I’ve thought a design team meeting was worthwhile, it serve one (or more) or the following purposes:

Designers were able to showcase design thinking, expertise or even something new

Successful team meetings of this genre provide an opportunity for the design team to come together and see how their fellow designers think, implement and craft.

Digging into how your colleagues actually do things is something that can get lost in the rat race of daily tasks. We can all be so busy making the damn thing that you don’t realise that the designer next to you is actually doing something pretty neat in Sketch today.

To implement in your next team meeting:
  • Challenge designers to come prepared with a tip or trick that helps them in their everyday work, or even just an interesting link to something design-related that they would like to share.
  • If your designers have specialist skills (“Katy is amazing in After Effects!“), ask them to provide a short masterclass for the team.

Sharing and collaborating on active work

Particularly in larger design teams, things can easily get missed. Making sure that designers can regularly see what is actively being worked on by their teammates is vital to providing a cohesive overall experience and helps for knowledge sharing.

This can help catch things like noticing where designers are using two completely different interaction patterns for the same thing, or seeing how copy is being jumbled up on multiple points of the same journey.

Even if your designers are working on completely separate things, this type of activity is useful to help get fresh eyes on work as well as sharing knowledge and inspiration across your team.

To implement in your next team meeting:
  • Ask designers to come armed with their latest work printed out on big, A3 sheets and stuck on the wall. It doesn’t need to be final screens – explorations, research findings, sketches – everything is welcome. Give each team member about 5 minutes to talk through what they’ve been working on. The rest of the team can see the details of what is being worked on, the process being used, and have the opportunity to feedback or ask questions of the designer. Somebody acting as facilitator can help prompt questions around alignment of work, or ask questions from the point of view of your personas.

Practising SOFT skills

Softer design skills like presentation of your work and giving/receiving critiques can often end up being under-practised, especially for more junior members of design teams. Team meetings can be a brilliant opportunity to have your designers practise these important skills.

To implement in your next team meeting:
  • Utilise a presentation slot (perhaps in the Pecha Kucha format or similar) for a different designer each time, so that the designer can present something to the group. It could really be anything – an aspect of design they are really passionate about, their portfolio of work, something they are working on.
  • Use exercises like the lego challenge to foster group communication
  • Ask your designers what they would like to get practise on and research ways that you can help meet that need.

 

Are you running or participating in absolutely amazing (or awful) team meetings? Shout below about how they work – would love to hear from you!

Author

Design lead, watermelon addict, Leuchtterm notebook obsessive. I just enjoy designing great experiences for people that just work, writing about my craft and connecting with designers everywhere. Find me on Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

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