In the midst of enormous economic uncertainty, ambiguity, and a startup culture with limited resources, we intentionally decentralized our organization's power to take decisions towards product feature prioritization from a single Director of Product to a design-led collaboration.
Designers source participants from our internal teams, including Customer Success, who have core responsibilities of empathizing with our users, and Development, who build the experience we design. Our strategy relied upon distributing the power through workshops to make aligned decisions in design work, discovering that the experience of remote-mediated communications alongside empathetic and democratic facilitations affords equal opportunity.
Although a digital space abstracts us from our corporeal interactions during workshops, it sensitizes us to see and hear our participants' intentions unincumbered by the biases that we hold of one another’s physical presence.
Our strategy relied upon distributing the power to make decisions in design work, empower others to contribute ideation, adopt a process that can be enacted by non-designers, and ultimately align internal stakeholders to champion decisions taken towards the prioritization of product feature development.
Upon workshop implementation, we came to notice the power of distributed, remote collaboration—how the artifacts that we work within have agency to shape our perception of one another, affecting the socio-organizational power relationships regardless of company roles.
The starting point was a list of concerns provided by the stakeholders; and in preparation for the maintenance enhancements, we conducted a series of interviews with representatives from Customer Success and Development. Alongside the analysis of other systems processes (flow diagrams), we elucidated the patterns, challenges, and strategies users took to navigate the module, as well as the differences in the approach, steps, ownership and interactions of other products.
The shift towards the understanding of Design as an organizational system promoted inherently soft power, mediated by the use of remote moderated workshops that are elective in participation and turn voices equal.
We conclude that the lack of in-person presence has created equality in screen presence when we combined an inclusive practice with the processes of coming to know ourselves as digitally-mediated representations.
Authors: COLLIN, J, PFENDER / SONIA, GAYOSSO / LUCIANA, M, ALVEAR
Paper submitted to CHI 2021