Business Challenge

Excerpt from presentation to leadership showing two possible future scenarios for UX investment.

After my team's successful redesign of the internal CRM system, the business abandoned the approach, choosing to use a cloud-based system instead. Thankfully, at least 80% of the UX work still applied to the new technology platform, but IT had turned 100% of its attention and investment to getting the new system up and running. While UX would be needed down the road, the leadership agreed, it would be at least two years. 

During this period, our IT unit re-organized, replacing my entire management chain. The incoming individuals were completely unfamiliar with the team’s prior work, its charter and its value. Add to that a rising chorus from UX managers in other parts of IT to assign these team members to other project work across the enterprise, essentially creating multiple "teams of one."

My IT unit had a choice: divest in UX or make a strategic investment in developing the team further.


An excerpt from the Master Spreadsheet of Projects

I negotiated a deal with my management in August 2014: give me a year to show I could make the UX team a profit center by pivoting it into an internal agency.

By June, 2015, I had:

  • grown the team by 50%,
  • secured a new design studio
  • shifted the team’s attention to a broad range of experience challenges
  • established the UX team as the first choice for our internal customers to consider before hiring an outside agency
  • established a funding model permitting us to expand our hiring to meet our business partners’ needs

Bottom line: I had moved the UX team onto the desired trajectory of increased investment.


Strategy statement with silhouetted image of UX team: "The SMIT UX team will deliver highest priority needs for internal SMG customers and external B2B Customers at 50% cost and response time of external vendors with equal or better quality by leveraging its unique position as an internal creative resource."

UX Team Strategy Statement

Spreadsheet excerpt showing potential service offerings and costs

Excerpt from Menu of Services spreadsheet.

Image showing cycle of services: Discovery, Structure, Concepts, Execution, along with example services for each.

UX Team marketing collateral - service offerings.

As with any organizational change, the process was a combination of influence and operational strategies.

I began by crafting a strategy statement: a +/-35 word sentence describing a measurable objective, a scope and a differentiator.

We simplified our “intake” process, making it easy for prospects to do business with us.

We designed a comprehensive “menu of deliverables” our prospects could easily understand. (See the UXMatters articles I wrote about this system.)

The menu also acted as marketing collateral, broadening our stakeholders’ understanding of our potential services (that went well beyond wireframes and comps).

We began insinuating ourselves in any conversation in which an external agency might have been considered.

We won a “lighthouse customer:” an initial customer who was pleased with results and acted as a reference account.

I continued to beat the drum with managers and decision makers across the organization for reducing costs and improving outcomes by using our team.

Collaboration | Contributions

Proposed layout for Experience Design Collaboration Space

Strategic work is a balancing act: making a bold vision statement while respecting and incorporating stakeholder feedback. 

I was responsible for leading this effort with significant help from the team. Because my management chain was in constant flux (four managers in 10 months), it was difficult to get longlasting commitments from above. As a result, I chose to pursue a strategy of "operational efficiency," to make the case for investing long-term in the team.

In addition to crafting, refining, revising and socializing the strategy, I took responsibility for:

  • Creating and executing on the deliverables worksheet
  • Providing creative and "marketing" direction on the marketing collateral
  • Making “sales calls:” influencing portfolio owners and service managers to allocate headcount for UX team members
  • Maintaining team morale and coherency through a difficult transition, ultimately positioning it for success
  • Advocating for and ultimately driving the successful creation of a dedicated Experience Design Studio