Understanding state of product & design

In August 2022 I joined the Austrian scale-up refurbed as UX Lead. refurbed is a marketplace for repaired consumer electronics sold by certified suppliers, with the vision of putting 1 refurbished device in every European household by X date, in order to leverage e-trash. It promises the B2C customer money saving for fully functional devices while also engaging in more sustainable shopping behavior by leveraging e-trash. As a company, they aim to be profitable, carbon negative, and a relevant player in circular economy. 

Refurbed went through a moderate stage of hyper growth during 2021, and the product team wasn’t spared! From a team of 1 Head of Product, 1 PM and 2 UX designers, they grew into a team of 1 Director of Product,  2 Heads of Product, 6 PMs and 12 Design practitioners (2 UX leads, 1 UX writer, 3 UX researchers and 6 UX designers). They broke down the user journeys into product domains, bundled up in squads, and started applying agile methodologies. 
Going from 6 to 20+ might not seem like a lot when we read about Meta laying-off 11k and that meaning just reeling back 6 months time... but for an organisation of about 100 people almost tripling its size also in 6 months, it definitely makes waves 🌊.

While design requires individual and collective skill, skill alone won’t enable design in an organisation without capability for design. 


My first homework was to discover more about that and other (related) organisational capabilities of refurbed by: 

👂🏻 Deep listening: 

  • Studying and understanding business model 
  • Embedding and understanding company culture & rhythm (remote setting)
  • Inquiring, practising & understanding organisational & product capabilities for:
    - Formulating strategy and goals 
    - Asking questions before asking for solutions 
   - Deep knowledge acquisition, focus work, critical thinking 
   - Research (scalable, accessible, actionable and connected collection of insights, learnings, and issues) 
   - Execution & reporting (how are they measuring progress? is the data “CUIKA” Collected, Usable, Integer, Known, Actionable?) 
   - Collaboration & interfaces (Content of relationships) 

🔬 While gaining insight on the above, I also took a closer look at Design: 

Who are the people practising design at refurbed? (the ones that make me leave a piece of my heart at every job ❤️🔨).

- Their background
- Their professional skills
- Their technical skills
- Their personality traits
- Their aspirations in life & work

How? 1o1s, self-assessments, technical assessments, critiques, UX studios, circle of influence and control, role defininition, skill matrix...

How do they work?

- Are they a team? 
- Do they approach issues systemically? 
- To what extent they think they can practice design at refurbed and why? (Do they understand the objectives? Can they apply a process? How do they make decisions? Are they under pressure? How do they collaborate?) 
- What artifacts do they generate, what tasks & responsibilities do they have?
- What methods do they use and how? 
- Have they defined principles, and how are they guarded? 
- Who do they relate to (at work) and how are those relationships? (Expectations on them, their expectations on others. Boundaries). 
- What has changed since they started? (a lot, not a lot, what? Are they tired of change or see the need for some change?). 


At some point, it feels like we’re ready to 🛠 carefully operate on our challenges by:
- Reaching consensus around gaps
- Liaising productively
- Agreeing / Prioritizing focus points
- Defining and planning solutions, goal based and aiming to last
- Continuously monitoring execution (deep listening + open dialogue)
- Reporting periodically
- Correcting direction

and of course, to also ⭐️ strengthen what works: 

- Enabling more people within set boundaries
- Amplifying areas of high interest or high performance
- Expanding our circle of influence by learning and educating

- ...

Some of the things we have our hands on: 

- Contributing to OKRs “that don’t suck”
- Operationalizing research
- Creating helpers, master files, templates, file structure
- Expanding & measuring Design System implementation
- Visualizing UJ events & data schema
- Expanding & diversifying metrics
- Making data “CUIKA”
- Crafting Design Principles
- Mentoring & learning time based on milestones


   Virginia del Rio · Product Design