PRoject Overview





Morningstar is in its early stages of adopting product design across different disciplines. I noticed many teams were jumping to exploring solutions first, without fully understanding the problem they were solving. I saw this as an opportunity to create an internal process to improve how we were approaching
product design.  



Identifying the Problems








Leading UX design on several teams, I observed the need for everyone to have a common understanding and shared language of product design. Many visual designers were discouraged by old waterfall practices and weren't included throughout the process. Developers were frustrated with building features over and over again. Product managers didn’t trust UX designers and became prescriptive in how projects should be solved. For most, UX design was this black box that no one understood.



  • Teams preferred to jump into solutions prior to understanding the problem.

  • Lack of understanding of best practices for UX Design.

  • Research wasn't considered part of the design process.

  • Assumption based product design led to a costly approach to building products. 

  • Many teams valued what design thinking had to offer, but didn’t know how to put it into practice. This resulted in questions such as:

    • How does this fit into agile?

    • What's the difference between Agile and design thinking?




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Explored Ideas




Hour long interactive workshops to discuss the craft of product design. These two workshops are the most important.

1. Problem Solving - download presentation

  • How we’re taught to problem solve

  • A different approach to problem solving

  • High-level overview of design thinking as a:
    - Mindset
    - Process
    - Toolset
    - Cross-disciplinary language

  • Applying design thinking to problem solving

2. How to Put Process into Practice - download presentation

  • Defining Agile and design thinking and their correlation

  • Demonstrating examples of applied design thinking

  • Approaching the stages of design thinking

  • Planning and scheduling items such as research or
    exploratory work



Solutions and Impact



Shared Language
Teammates from different disciplines shared a common language to talk about product design.





The workshops prompted an ongoing conversation, helping to evolve product design collaboration. 






Process Oriented Not Solution Oriented
Instead of jumping to solutions, teams learned the necessary steps needed to materialize a solution.  







Trust & Understanding
The product design process became more thoroughly understood, building a stronger foundation of trust amongst teammates.


Next Steps

Share externally so other teams struggling with similar problems can hopefully benefit from it.


Other Workshop Topics:

  • Product Design Strategy

  • Failure and how I view it as an opportunity to improve.

  • Improving collaboration and transition between the visual designer and the UX designer (which has come up often from other designers).

  • Process over speed