Prepare to Design the Future
March 19–20, 2017: Training
March 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Org design for design orgs: The workshop

Peter Merholz (Snagajob), Kristin Skinner (Capital One)
9:00am–12:30pm Monday, March 20, 2017
Bridging design, technology, and business
Location: California East
Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.17, 6 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Managers, directors, VPs, leads, and principals

Prerequisite knowledge

  • A general understanding of organizational and managerial matters for design teams

What you'll learn

  • Learn a new hybrid org model that combines the best of centralized and decentralized approaches
  • Discover a new and complete taxonomy of design roles for digital design teams to get past the word salad of design job titles
  • Explore the first framework for thinking of the evolution of a design organization


As the move to establish in-house design teams accelerates, there’s very little common wisdom on what makes for a successful design organization. Books and presentations focus on process, methods, tools, and outcomes, leaving a gap of knowledge when it comes to organizational and operational matters. Yet those issues often have more impact on designer happiness and design team success. Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner shine a light on the unsung activities of actually running a design team, exploring what works and what doesn’t.

Topics include:

  • How a service design mindset shifts standard organizational approaches
  • Organizational models for design teams, including centralized, decentralized, and Peter and Kristin’s preferred hybrid model, the centralized partnership
  • How to assess the breadth and depth of skills and strategic thinking
  • The five stages of design organizational evolution, from the initial pair to a team of 60 and beyond
  • A new taxonomy of design team roles, including abolishing the UX/UI distinction
  • The untapped opportunity for design, using its leverage to wield greater influence
Photo of Peter Merholz

Peter Merholz


Peter Merholz is vice president of design at Snagajob, the leading marketplace for hourly workers. A user experience and design executive with 20 years of experience across a broad range of digital media, Peter is the coauthor of Org Design for Design Orgs, the first book dedicated to the organization, management, and operations of in-house design teams. He cofounded Adaptive Path and was instrumental in the company’s growth from a small boutique firm to a renowned international consultancy. More recently, he led the global design team at Groupon, including product/UX, marketing, and brand design, where he doubled the team from 30 to 60 and was instrumental in the first redesign of since the company launched. Peter is also perhaps most (in)famous for coining the word “blog” in 1999. Really. In the OED and everything. Since then, he’s been blogging continuously at

Photo of Kristin Skinner

Kristin Skinner

Capital One

Kristin Skinner is head of design management at Capital One, where she leads the practice and team of design managers who coordinate the design organization’s efforts, guides cross-functional collaboration, and enables the design team to deliver outcomes with measurable impact. An author and organization design leader, Kristin has extensive experience recruiting, hiring, and managing designers as well as shaping design organizations and operations for optimal effectiveness—in both consulting and in-house contexts in companies large and small alike. Previously, Kristin was managing director at Adaptive Path, where she established and lead the Design Management practice, guided sales and operations, co-led the portfolio, and scoped and co-led over 40 of the firm’s most strategic and complex projects and programs; she also shaped the design manager role for entertainment and devices while at Microsoft’s Pioneer Studios. Kristin is coauthor of Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams and is the programmer and host of the LX Conference (formerly MX). She is also a keynote speaker and frequent workshop teacher on organizational design and design management.

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03/23/2017 3:45am PDT

Speaker slides are available at

Betsy Filson | HEAD OF DESIGN
03/23/2017 3:14am PDT

Where and how can we access the deck used for this presentation?