Establishing a product design department ?

I’d like to gather some thoughts and ideas from designers who have been engaged
in heading up a design department and what they would do if they were tasked to
establish a new one from scratch at a company.

How large is the company?

What is the reporting structure (e.g. who will ID be reporting to?


Of the top of my head, run lean to start…especially if you’re going to need to “prove” design to upper management. Hire the minimum needed to get some good work done and outsource the rest for the time being.

Set goals and be strategic. Don’t just turn into a group that caters to the whims of marketing, or is “just the design department”.

I have no clue what your role is, but if you’ve never done this before, you might even consider hiring (even if it is on contract) someone to come in and do this for you. In order to act as your mentor.

The dynamics of the situation is different for company.

I think the first things I would do are:

1- develop a curated history of the company in terms of design
2- from that extrapolate a design ethos on what design means on a theoretical level
3- build a process based on this ethos and the manufacturing / brand process already in place
4 - from there build a chart showing the design work that will be need to be done at points in the process
5- based on that work flow show how many jr/senior/director level designers you will need on staff to get it all done

I’ve never done this, but would love to at some point!