Creative Review: How do you cast and structure your teams in the most appropriate way for each project?
Charlotte Briscall: We are what I call a partnership team. We use agile development methodologies to deliver a lot of our digital products and services for Sainsbury’s customers and colleagues, so teams include everyone from engineers to marketing colleagues. Alongside this we come together as a community of practice and share tools and learnings from each of the products we are designing.
CR: What sort of skills do you look for?
CB: Designers within cross-functional teams are now expected to – and want to – adopt the broader remit of a product designer, and rather than having a graphic design skill set, a user experience skill set or a research skill set, they are becoming multi-skilled. They have a specialism in one area but they have all these tools to draw upon when needed.
I am also looking for people who have a deep understanding of human needs – a number of people in my current team have a psychology background
The type of people I am looking for are people who have a deep interest in design, ecommerce and digital, whether they have come from a product design or industrial design background or a technical background like computer science. I am also looking for people who have a deep understanding of human needs – in fact, a number of people in my current team have a psychology background. This combination of skills allows us to not only design how something looks but also how it works.
CR: In terms of time spent on a project, what proportion is on concepting, presenting, amending etc and what proportion on making?
CB: We follow a user-centred design approach so conceptual work, prototyping, testing and building is a continual cycle with customer feedback along the way.
CR: As a creative director or leader, how much is your job one of overseer or supervisor and how much supporter and facilitator?
CB: I am a facilitator and supporter but alongside this I also need to provide a vision for how we play our role in supporting the delivery of Sainsbury’s strategy. I do this by running a combination of team meetings, at which I provide business updates, and more informal drop-in sessions where the team can raise any questions or concerns they may have about a particular project that week.
In terms of managing quality of design, we have really put the traditional critiquing and sign-off process behind us and replaced this with a set of tools and principles for designers to work within, allowing them more freedom and the ability to work more quickly. We also have regular 1:1 conversations with each of our team members to ensure that they are on track with achieving their personal development goals.
We have really put the traditional critiquing and sign-off process behind us and replaced this with a set of tools and principles for designers to work within
CR: How do you manage feedback?
CB: We have ‘kick off’ workshops before a team starts the product design cycle. In these initial workshops we use the double diamond approach of discovering and framing, which helps to align our stakeholders in what we are trying to achieve and how we are going to measure success. Once we are in a design sprint we start to map out key customer journeys and then quickly move into design, customer testing and development.
We focus on output rather than documentation, which can be very difficult in a large organisation, but we overcome this by bringing together cross-functional teams from across the whole of Sainsbury’s and involving them from the start.
The above interview is from Working Lives, a special report on the changing nature of creative leadership produced by CR and Adobe. The report features a series of interviews with creative leaders from the likes of Microsoft, Sainsbury’s and the BBC, revealing how creative-first customer experiences are changing their working lives, with data-driven design, personalised customer-centric UX, and collaborative, agile working at the forefront.The full report includes interviews with the following 10 design leaders:
Adam Roberts, Senior UX Design Manager, Samsung
Lee Schuneman, Studio Head, Microsoft Lift London
Clive Grinyer, Premier Design Director, Barclays UK
Darren Wallace, Head of Design, BMI Healthcare
Charlotte Briscall, Head of Digital Experience, Sainsbury’s
Kresten Bjørn Krab-Bjerre, Senior Manager, Sound Concept, Bang & Olufsen
Jane Murison, Head of User Experience and Design, BBC Future Media
Thomas Johansson, Design Director, Electrolux Group Design, Electrolux
Martin Samuelson, Virtual Design Lead, Three
Jason Gregory, Head of Product Design, iZettle