Session type:
Case Study

Session duration:
60 minutes

Presented by:

Alissa Briggs


About this Case Study

In this session, Alissa Briggs, Head of Design at PlanGrid, will share how she led the design team through organisational transformation.

Two years ago, the PlanGrid design team was a small, scrappy team of 5 designers. While the company knew that design was important, most people thought designers just made things pretty. As a result, designers were always brought into projects at the very last minute to put lipstick on the proverbial pig.

Everyone was losing: the designers were demoralised and frustrated; customers were getting shoddy products that didn’t address deeper user experience issues; and the business was going to struggle with scaling as the experience problems multiplied over time.

After she joined, Alissa led the team on a journey to transform the design team - and in doing so, transformed the way that PlanGrid thinks about building products that customers love.

You’ll learn how she started out by building a bold team vision: defining the north star that would guide the team’s journey. Then she figured out who needed to go on that journey - both understanding the strengths and capabilities of the team, and looking for allies around the organisation.

Then she led the team through the journey itself: starting simply with raising the visibility of the design team at a cross-functional level, then building on this to educate teams and new hires about what design does, to investing in a design system that increased cohesiveness and the strength of designers' voices, to instigating and driving strategic projects that delivered immense business value.

Along the way, the designers came together as a real team that trusts and depends on one another, learned how to raise their voices and influence others, and delivered amazing experiences that customers love.

This case study takes a strongly practical bent, as the story of transformation is coupled with the introduction of the Vision Map: a strategy tool for transforming your design team.

This tool has an accompanying worksheet that will be available for participants online after the session. It takes the form of a visual map with a list of questions to prompt discussion around where the team is going, and how they might get there. It is a great tool for designers and other visually-minded folks to think strategically about their current organisation, the various forces at play, and how they might navigate this to transform their team.

As we introduce the Vision Map, we will illustrate it with real examples from the PlanGrid design team’s journey, with tips and tricks for using it effectively.

Along the way, you’ll hear examples of how we applied this at PlanGrid - both successes and failures. You’ll get an insider’s look at how the design team evolved over time. You’ll also get lots of practical advice that you can apply immediately.

By the end of this session, you’ll know how to:
  • identify where your organisation is at today and where it needs to go
  • assemble the right team and allies to accompany you on your journey
  • choose the right tactics to reach your vision

This session is accompanied by worksheets and resources you can use with your team. You’ll leave with everything you need to chart your course to the design team of your dreams.

About the Speaker

Alissa is Head of Design at PlanGrid, the global leader in construction productivity software. She specialises in leading and scaling high-impact design teams that champion amazing experiences across every customer touchpoint.

Previously, Alissa was Director of User Experience at Brigade, the world’s first network for voters. She also led design for Intuit’s payroll division, where she managed 15+ product lines that are powering prosperity around the world.

As an active member of the design community, Alissa has spoken at Enterprise UX, UXPA, SXSW and other top conferences around the world. She has been featured by FastCo.Design, O’Reilly Media and other industry publications. Alissa holds advanced degrees in human-computer interaction and computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. In her free time, you can find her tweeting @alissadesigns, designing wearable electronics, and exploring the great outdoors.


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