Though we all hope to never find ourselves in positions where it’s near impossible to navigate an organization and get buy-in on ideas, we know that designers must often face that challenge sooner or later. When someone finds themselves navigating a complex organization, often the true challenge isn’t coming up with a great idea, it’s creating a team that can help you make it real.

Here are 5 tips from TOPP’s on building functional and successful UX driven teams:


Identify the common goal and have your team and client buy into it. It’s very tempting to start producing directly before articulating the goal, but it will pay off in the end to build that joint target. Even if the inner craftsman in you makes it feel like you’re not delivering value, you are.


There are usually 10-100 times more engineers compared to designers in organizations. You won’t be teaming up with all of them. As designer, you need to create a design voice that guides towards the common goal. Design Principles can inspire and formulate the high level ambition. This allows engineers and product influencers with limited availability to you as a designer to understand the design intent and stand behind it. When Roger was working on the BlackBerry 10 design principles prior to joining TOPP, it became a common place for stakeholders from all backgrounds to reference and align. Check out the BlackBerry 10 developer guidelines.


Even if you end up in a place that works against everything else we’re saying here, still reach out to people with different perspectives and skills to start collaborating across disciplines. To make something happen, all you need to do is just convince one or two engineers. Rather than pitch an idea at the next meeting, walk over to an engineer, have them buy into the idea and spend some time refining it. Then it’s no longer just any idea.


Most engineers don’t come out of school with an eye for design. Most designers don’t come out of school with a good sense of software development. If you can’t find a counterpart, become an educator and share your perspective and point of view. 


If you’re not quantifying your work how do you still make sure you’re moving in the right direction and feel a sense of progress? This can be especially difficult when working against a vague vision in an exploratory project. We try to establish weekly routines so there’s a recurring sense of urgency to package something up. Finalize every friday. Reflect, package and articulate the design intent every time. This can be invaluable when the real deadline hits.