Performance Management Framework for design leads and their teams


Improve the effectiveness of design operations in general and each design team separately through discovering, defining, labeling, and structuring all the design activities, expectations, and metrics in one system and providing each design manager with clear instructions on how to implement use and benefit from it.

7 members
Head of Design Operations
2 years


This project has started due to many complaints from the design team leads about the team performance, unclarity, inability to implement and manage design processes and follow production processes simultaneously.

Unfortunately, design operations are known as the most mysterious management area. Due to many misunderstandings, companies rarely provide instructions on synchronizing design with busines and development processes.

Roles | Strategy, Management & Leadership

The first of the typical problems in that area is a frequent failure in defining a Design Manager's responsibilities. Many organizations may vary them widely, and the lack of a standardised setup can result in confusion and lead to a situation where Design Managers find themselves pulled in multiple directions, trying to balance conflicting expectations.

My solution was to determine situations when the Design Manager is supposed to be a strategist, when a manager, and when a leader and why.

Effective Team Operations is a dynamic and repetitive cycle of changing roles: Strategist-Manager-Leader:
Strategist observes, analyses, and defines the right place and moment for changes;
Manager offers the new process and prepares the space for implementation.
Leader inspires people to implement and follow the new direction;
Strategist analyzes the results.

Strategist has a goal (Where are we going?);
Manager has a method (How we are going to get there?);
Leader has an influence (Why should we go?).

Each role is also a stack of skills.

Directions | Product, Process & People

Team leader suppose to provide three types of services: Design Strategy (Product), Project Management (Process), and People Management (People). Each service also includes a list of responsibilities.

This leads us to the second common problem in Design Operations: understanding the difference between Product, Project, and People Management. Confusion in these domains often leads to misaligned efforts, inefficient resource allocation, and a lack of strategic focus.

The structure of 3P's helps specify each problem according to one of the directions.

Model | Key Terms & Parameters

The third problem that pops up in Design Operations daily is providing each team member with clarity in numbers, metrics, terms, goals, plans, directions, and many more. But how not to be lost in the ocean of information? By following the predefined framework of document templates, which must be filled out and shared with each Design Manager and each Designer.

The model helps specify what information should be collected, analysed, and documented.

Obligations |  Delivery Time & Improvements

The fourth problem is sacrificing the time for changes and improvements to the routine or vice versa. For a better balance regular working time should be officially divided between Routine Delivery and Initiatives (improvements). For example:
1. Team Leads and their Teams are obliged to take care of Routine Delivery Health Metrics (control & report) and quarterly challenge (monitor, analyse, improve & report) the three areas: Product, Process and People.
2. Team Leads and their Team can delegate 15%* of their regular working time to the initiatives.
3. Team Leads are obliged to inform their Stakeholder and Design Ops about initiatives (OKR) that were taken before the quarter begins.
4. Team Leads are obliged to inform their Stakeholder and Design Ops: monthly about health metrics status and taken initiatives (OKR) progress, and in the end of each quarter about taken initiatives (OKR) results.

*This number were different for each company in which it was implemented, but usually it is from 5 to 25%.

The chart helps to see the difference between a routine workload and initiatives when planning.

Initiatives | What should be improved?

A lot of people quickly fall in love with the idea of constant changes and improvements. It sounds like a much more exciting activity than any routine for many of us. However, the danger of messing with Initiatives not only leads to solving problems incorrectly but also risks solving the wrong problems altogether. I have reused the 'double diamond metaphor' with some fixes to guide Design Managers and Designers through the correct process.

The 'double diamond metaphor' is applied to define the quarter backlog.

OKR | From Ideas to Goals & Metrics

The seventh difficulty that can easily frustrate the design and management processes is overcoming the gap between an abstract idea and a measurable goal. Nevertheless it is crucial for both designers and design managers to understand and value the beauty of OKR conception.

The illustration highlights how to differentiate OKR from a problem, feature, solution, or task.

Report | Quarter Report Template

The final problem is in achieving transparency through design operations. It could be solved by introducing each team to a similar template for the OKRReports, especially if OKR is already in use by all the Departments in the Company.

The template offers examples of 3 objectives for the Product, Process, and People Management branches.
The Framework happens to be a live instrument. Each Design Manager and each Team that has implemented it has inspired me to make many improvements already. Some adapt it themselves and some bombard me with ideas on what else could be added. I can't feel happier about how it evolves over time.


— 8 templates for Miro;
— 12 webinars;
— 1 training program for beginners;
— Documentation and guidelines for the design managers and designers.


One of my most ambitious plans I am working on now is to turn this framework into a book. It will allow me to present it to a broader audience and offer the idea of Product, Process, and People as an effective structure for any Design Operation. I hope it can give each person who starts in Design Management self-confidence to overcome any 'imposter syndrome' that exists.