It has been a year since my first DesignOps article “Defining DesignOps”. In which I talked about my first 6 months into my journey. Here is my 2020 journey. Have I figured it out? What have I done? Do I still want to do this? It’s been a whirlwind of a year. I’ve been in survival mode for at least half of it.

A stream running down a mountain
A stream running down a mountain

Water down a mountain

When rain hits a mountainside it finds the path of least resistance. The water follows cracks and folds in the land as it flows downhill. Small streams meet and join together. Growing larger and larger until the flow becomes a river.

When I started this role I wanted to create rivers. I wanted to jump in and tackle the biggest problems. I’m a designer at heart and that is the natural thing for me.

To create a river though you have to join the streams and understand the cracks and folds in the mountain. The DesignOps mountain is more like…

Roger Craig impressing his competitors
Roger Craig impressing his competitors
Roger Craig on his way to becoming Jeopardy champion

When American Roger Craig entered the hit TV quiz show Jeopardy. He was faced with the question “How can I learn everything?”. He knew this wasn’t possible but Roger’s data science background helped him become a Jeopardy champion.

This got me thinking how would Roger Craig approach the topic of accessibility. So the obvious thing to do was to ask him, so I did.

Tweet asking Roger Craig how he would learn about Accessibility

Roger liked my Tweet but unsurprisingly didn’t give me an answer. So the rest of this post is based on my predictions.

At first look the…

DesignOps is an emerging role, it’s still unclear to many what it entails. I began my journey into DesignOps at Co-op Digital in June 2019. Here is how I approached it, what I did, and what I learned along the way in my first 6 months on the job.

Its me Dave Cunningham running a kick off meeting

A week before my new venture into the mysterious new world of DesignOps. I sat Googling “What is DesignOps?”. I stumbled across talks from the DesignOps Summit and InVision’s DesignOps handbook.

The more I read (and I read a lot), the increasingly confused I became. Is DesignOps a design managers role? The efficiency of design? Perhaps evangelising design? Or recruitment and teams skills? Career progression? On boarding and people stuff? Software and tools? Or was it all of these things or something else?

I announced on Twitter I was to become a DesignOps manager.

And then the dreaded question…

This hasn’t been an easy journey at all, its been filled with joy, laughter, pain, despair, resilience, complete admiration and being truly inspired.

To set the scene there are over 8 million students in Primary & Secondary education in the UK. The vast majority of those will use BBC Bitesize during their time in education.

Bitesize’s mission is to help every child in the UK to achieve their full potential — learning every day in their own way.

On the homepage we know nothing about our audience. Other than they are looking at the homepage.

The Bitesize homepage that we were to re-design

So… where do you start?

Bitesize has content for children from age 5 upwards. So this led us to the question “At what age can the students get to the content they need?”

In short, the truth is nobody knows what they are doing. Some people have more experience at not knowing than others. But in general people are just making it up as they go along.

It’s impossible to keep up with all the latest trends and tech, without feeling some form of impostor syndrome.

Blogs are becoming a grave of non achievable idealistic ways of doing things better. In truth the majority of what we read cannot and probably has not been applied fully in the real world.

This post could be about design, development or project management it really is…

Dave Cunningham

DesignOps Manager at Co-op digital — Manchester UK

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