Every Wednesday morning, Innovatemap design team members are gathering, sharing, learning and often laughing. This all takes place during the weekly design team standup meetings (standing purely optional, so take a seat if you prefer). It’s not unusual that a team would meet each week on a particular day and at a particular time — many teams do that. But the design team standups are an example of a meeting that works not just to move projects forward and get organized, but to inspire, excite and grow relationships — things that don’t often happen in meetings.
The design team has created a meeting format that people actually look forward to as opposed to dread. Weekly creativity, inspiration and enlightenment is enough to give design team members a mid-week boost, allowing them to finish the week strong. Today, Parker McCullough, Senior Brand Designer at Innovatemap, invites us into a design team standup meeting and explains why their meetings are something to look forward to.
How long have these meetings been happening, and who all is involved?
Design team standups began around four years ago. They include the brand and marketing design team and the product design team. That’s unique as it’s the only time both sides of the design house are consistently together to discuss anything in the realm of design.
What makes these meetings inspiring?
At each meeting, a different team member gets a half an hour to lead the team in absolutely anything they want. We’ve worked together to design book covers, looked at examples of design throughout the world, and done some playful things, like designing a Zoom integration that would kick someone out of a Zoom meeting if they start flailing their body around like a hurricane. These exercises bring out everyone’s unique strengths and different perspectives, so the results are always very different.
(Note to self: Don’t flail around like a hurricane on a Zoom call with Parker!)
Has the focus of the standup meetings evolved over time?
The focus has changed and evolved a lot over time. Most recently, with COVID-19, a lot of our communication went digital and we began sharing more than ever through solutions like Slack. So things like in-progress client work feedback and macro-level design topic discussions went online, giving us an opportunity to focus the standup time around things, like design exercises, that we can only talk about/ do when that group is together.
Tell me about the rotating leader framework.
Since we’ve adopted the rotating meeting leader framework, the format and content have varied a lot from week to week in new and interesting ways that didn’t happen in our previous meeting frameworks. We’ve done live design exercises like designing book covers and rethinking city flag design to more reflective exercises like cataloging where we pull inspiration from both in and outside of design. I’ve learned new things about longtime coworkers and gotten to know new team members quickly through all those exercises.
How are the design meetings an opportunity for continued education on design?
Other than design and introspective exercises, we’ll talk through interesting trends in design and tech like big rebrands that challenge conventions (Dropbox, Mailchimp, Robinhood rebrands were the focus of design standups when they respectively were rolled out). We also talk about the intersection of brand/marketing design and product design, how a brand identity may affect or integrate into a digital product and vise versa, and how we can apply that to our own work since our full design team is often designing brand identities and digital products that need to work well and support the same ideas.
What are other benefits of design standups?
It’s a great opportunity for feedback. I’ve shared a variety of in-progress work at design standups over time, both client work and internal marketing design work, and always get insightful feedback from the broader design team. It’s really valuable to get new eyes (especially designer eyes) on work that’s in progress because I, the active designer, am so close to the work at hand. I am often so zoomed into a project that getting a fresh perspective from someone not in that world can bring clarity and help push past hurdles to make the design stronger. Additionally, it’s nice to have flexible time not focused solely on client work to get to know the team better and build relationships.
Thank you to Parker for shedding some light on how the design team formulates and makes the most of their weekly meetings! If you can envision yourself sharing ideas during a design team standup, or are otherwise interested in Innovatemap, check out our careers page, and consider joining our watch list to learn about future employment opportunities.