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[WEBINAR REPLAY/HIGHLIGHTS] Creating Strong Roots for your Design Practice

Image of Nick Cochran

Our recent Digitalks webinar featuring Nick Cochran, ExxonMobil's Design Strategy Manager, covered how to develop a world-class design organization that is built on a foundation of trust, belonging, and connection. It’s a process that Nick and his team have been honing and perfecting for the last several years. Here are the highlights of his presentation, but we encourage you to take 45 minutes for a “lunch and learn” and watch the entire webinar on demand.

The life-giving power of connection

What can a design organization learn from a grove of redwood trees? A lot, it turns out! Nick told us how redwoods, while standing as tall as 380 feet, have shallow roots, sometimes no more than six feet deep! The key to their success is that their root systems are spread wide and they are interconnected. Nick used the example of redwood trees to make a comparison to design organizations. As humans, we’re meant to be connected. We’re more innovative when we’re connected. That’s what a successful design practice is all about, connections.

Project Redwood

In 2020, the design practice at ExxonMobile spread across multiple disciplines, but communication among team members was limited—there were redundant operational efforts and a lack of cohesive identity for design. Thus, Project Redwood was born as an effort to create strong roots and value through human-centered design.

The project was organized into four Design Programs to help create stronger connections:

  • Strategy
  • Operations
  • Talent
  • Community

Teams were established to govern and execute the programs. Each program has a “facilitator,” which means each person facilitates “connections.” 

Some of the business outcomes included bringing 2,500 employees together for a Design Week Event and making it easier for team members to access Adobe Creative Cloud.

A heart of service

Creating a design practice with deep roots starts with community. That means planting the seeds for team members to learn and grow. It also means listening to what team members are saying and designing programs of connection around real human needs.

One of the key things Nick shared is that creating lasting connections requires a heart of service. To be passionate about serving others is critical and solving problems for others is really the key to success.

Nick shares so many more great insights, so make sure that you check out the full webinar and let us know what you think!

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