Developing great products goes beyond developing a mission statement, design language, and principles. It means putting processes in place that support these things, and that involves creating a workplace culture of transparency, collaboration, and innovation. It never means dictating a rigid set of rules, but rather engaging teams in conversations about a design system’s mission and goals.
Transparency is (almost) everything. Be open to other teams, and show work early and often. One way this happens at Adobe is through open cross-team critiques, where other teams are invited to weigh in on work they aren’t officially part of.
“If you’re working in a big company, bringing people along is a critical part of getting buy-in on new ideas,” said Eric. “You can’t innovate if you’re trying to do it alone.” This often means conveying your ideas in a way that speaks to the needs, challenges, and goals of that particular person or team. “To say ‘you must do XYZ’ never works. Being a collaborative company, that’s just not in our DNA. I think the best way forward is to set a vision and then talk about the benefits.”
Transparency should also extend beyond your team and involve your users, resulting in a robust feedback loop with customers. Eric shared one example of this at work within Adobe: many of Adobe’s mobile apps, including Adobe Comp, have a “Give Us Feedback” link in the settings which generates an email that goes to every designer, product manager, and engineer on the app’s product team.