Systems Thinking

The ability to consider and design for the wider context of their work, in terms of both time and peers.

Systems Thinking

Level 1

Aware of the history and future of the work they're doing, and designs accordingly

  • Considering the past: You know the surface area of your product and regularly look for existing patterns to re-use

  • Considering the present: You interface with peers when working on similar or related projects to ensure your work aligns

  • Considering the future: Any new patterns you create are documented and re-usable

  • Systems thinking outcomes: Your design footprint across small to medium sized projects is minimal, and well documented.

Level 2

Actively designs features according to the requirements of future projects, and looks to find efficiency through shared components and patterns

  • Considering the past: As a matter of course you openly audit what has gone before and sits either side of the work you're doing, and find a solution that feels appropriate.

  • Considering the present: You involve peers across disciplines in critique of your work, and build those decisions into a pattern library that you share.

  • Considering the future: You're managing your own work and others to ensure that anyone can pick up where they left off. Projects that you've worked on are known to be immaculate when you're done.

  • Systems thinking outcomes: You're actively paying down poor historical decisions, aligning others and delivering work that matches and utilises existing and future needs.

Level 3

Heavily involved in creating efficiency in full teams workflows or processes. Building a set of resources for teams to enable systems to scale.

  • Considering the past: You're finding examples of patterns across any products and surfaces you cover, and making appropriate decisions which you're documenting for others to follow

  • Considering the present: You're leading an effort to bring multiple designers' work closer together, removing duplication of effort and improving shared learnings.

  • Considering the future: You're a stickler for documentation, explaining your decisions and reasoning throughout your process and building tools to help others do the same. Components are thoughtfully built to ensure they cover cases not needed by your work.

  • Systems thinking outcomes: Your work is enabling multiple designers to establish and meet a quality bar efficiently. The work you ship sets and raises that bar.

Level 4

Manages large parts of infrastructure that enable an organisation to run efficiently. Ruthless about regulating peers' output.

  • Considering the past: You audit historical patterns and working methods across designers, engineers and other stakeholders. You're streamlining their workflows and finding sensible, appropriate shared solutions to pay down debt.

  • Considering the present: A significant part of your time is spent building, maintaining and advocating for shared work. This has seen measurable efficiency gains in discussion, speed to design and speed to ship. You involve others in your process, giving everyone ownership.

  • Considering the future: You establish processes and templates to turn the right way into the easiest way.

  • Systems thinking outcomes: You're creating systems and tools to enable large numbers of people to find new levels of clarity and efficiency in their work. You've proven that you can multiply your organisation's efficiency by a meaningful percentage.

Level 5

An industry-renowned system designer. Overseeing large scale projects aimed at serving broad design goals required to run at enormous scale.

  • Considering the past: You have a library of existing patterns and have tools and processes to help teams pay down inconsistency and debt as part of their everyday process. This results in measurable efficiency and quality improvements.

  • Considering the present: Your well-documented system and process is adhered to and advocated for by designers and other disciplines alike. The team feel empowered to build on and augment the system, and inconsistency in work produced is rare and deliberate.

  • Considering the future: Your head is a year ahead of everyone else's. You've thought of permutations, devices and situations, and made allowances. You know about and are evaluating new technology, operating systems and UI patterns to better serve the needs of your team.

  • Systems Thinking Outcomes: You're representing your product and company's quality bar on a world stage, and being celebrated for it. You're writing the book on aligning teams around better, more efficient systems.

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