Which Member of Your Design Team do You Represent?


Image Source: Michael Roller.
Michael Roller has written a great post describing the 4 key members of a design team and the different roles they play. They are a little complicated at first glance, so I have taken the liberty to add to this discussion by translating these roles into the more common design titles we are familiar with (in brackets are my contributions):

1) The Evangelist: “A design team without a visionary leader is like a church without a preacher. The Evangelist focuses on design at the highest level, developing strategies and processes that push the limits of design and business as a whole.”
(Design Director or Design Manager)
2) The Conductor: “The Conductor’s analytical mind helps her to ensure that no detail goes unconsidered. Like directing an orchestra, she brings together all the little details into harmony, making sure everything has been figured out and nothing taken for granted.”
(Creative Director or Lead Designer)
3) The Dreamer: “A great design team deploys Dreamers to brainstorms where blue sky thinking is necessary, and keeps them involved when the end product must push category boundaries or create brand new ones.”
(Conceptual Designers, Content Creation or Form Monsters)
4) The Surgeon: “A great design team relies on the Surgeon – an analytical thinker who cuts up and dissects design problems to find the best solutions.”
(Realization Designers or Case-Part Designers)

Oh wait, there is one more:

5) The Jack of all Trades: “Every team has designers with diverse skill sets, but the Jack of All Trades might be the most talented person in your office because he can truly do everything.”
(I’m sure we all know this one eh?)

When you get the chance, do check out the full write up on Micheal’s Strategic Aesthetics Blog.
Via: Design Notes

4 Comments
  • Michael

    April 29, 2009 at 3:16 am Reply

    DT, Thanks for your support. While it is true that usually a Design Director is The Evangelist, etc., I wanted to leave it open to interpretation. For instance, my company’s VP of Design balances the Conductor *and Evangelist roles well. He knows when to give input on details, and when to challenge the context of a product. (I believe this is similar to your concept of “zooming.”) I didn’t want people to feel confined by these roles. For instance, young designers can exhibit leadership skills that make them good Evangelists, even though they may a long ways off from having CDO on their business card.

  • DT

    April 29, 2009 at 3:14 pm Reply

    Hey Michael,
    Indeed! I would imagine if there was a “Jack of all trades” there would be at least a “Jack of few trades?” 🙂
    Kidding aside, this is indeed the reality of any design team and a very flat design management structure. It is very common for design managers to also have a creative direction role, whereby the opposite is also true. Thus the other important thing to point out in your chart is that its on an axis with various degree of weight on either side.
    In many way, having it aligned to actual roles will help budding designers understand the skills and behavior required to get there.

  • Marc.

    May 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm Reply

    I am not sure what you mean > (I

  • ols

    May 12, 2009 at 10:41 pm Reply

    hi DT. Thanks for this post! As usual, very good information.
    Well, just wondering, is it possible for an individual to become the Evangelist (Creative director) or the Conductor without having had experience in getting their hands dirty being Concept Designers (Dreamers) or Realisation Designers (Surgeons)?
    Do correct me if I’m wrong but there seems to always be a hierarchy of sorts within the design industry i.e. junior designers needs to work their way to the top. I was wondering if the hierarchy can be broken for an individual to get to a design management role should he/she had not gone through the ‘traditional’ route.

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