DesignOps and other terms for design management

I’ll put this posting here in design business practices because it really does not fit anywhere else.

DesignOps is a recent position title that has only been around for 5 or so years, but after the pandemic has really taken off due to hybrid work. It is modeled off of DevOps which exists in the software design/development area.

From my assessment DesignOps is trying to be a blend of Design management and Human resources (with an emphasis on human resources) and exists primarily in the UX design area. Many women now fill these roles. It tends to exist as a functional role when design teams grow in size beyond 40-50 designers inside a firm. I’m cynical enough to want to label this trend as ‘babysitters for the millennial generation of UX designers’ but know that there is more to it than that.

DesignOps is a great example of how Silicon Valley has created a new title for something that already exists (Design Management) but wants to operate under a more innovative rubric or term in order to ‘feel’ more advanced and make room for those who understand design but are not designers per se.

This forum primarily attracts product and industrial designers. Do any of you here on this platform have experience working with DesignOps? Is it a ‘thing’ outside of Silicon Valley or is it all still just Design management to you?

Some links for reference:

Comment and contribute if you like…

I think the language has shifted. I worked for a big company that DesignOps in the ID team over a decade ago… more like 15 years ago now!

The 100+ person team was broken down into groups that had creative directors, those creative directors might have 1-3+ design directors reporting to them those design directors would have 3-5 person teams with a design manager on the team. Then 1 or 2 DesignOps people that did resource allocation and playing traffic cop across the entire group with a VP of design leading the entire org.

A friend of mine is in DesignOps for a large fruit named company. They were a great project/account manager for a global design consultancy and then moved into Design Ops on the corporate side. So folks in these roles may or may not have a design background as long as they understand design, designers, the work, and how long things take.