UX Advantage 2015: Fidelity’s Shift to Design-driven UX

Steve Turbek, SVP UX Design, Fidelity Investments

– 3 1/2 years with Fidelity
– 60,000 employees
– Customer Experience is not just designing screens, but a motivating program across the whole organization; call center; in-person branch experience
– naturally led to taking user centered design techniques to thinks like paper forms
– management was way ahead of wanting to drive customer satisfaction; UX middle-management has to translate business desires to execution; in the past he focused too much on selling UX and not ‘how can I help you’
– look for people who need something you can help with, then help them, rather than trying to convince them they need what you have
– his role is largely connecting individuals across different departments and functions; take the tools we use and apply them in new ways; e.g. user research to help business folks solve business problems, not just evaluating interfaces
– started with many interviews and such to discover the problems
– where is the team within the org: org design is very important; 300+ people, centralized UX design group in very decentralized business; be strong where we need to be strong but flexible in other ways; there was no perfect place for the team, but they chose a “good place” within one of the digital product teams; evaluate for the president each year whether the UX team is serving the needs of the other groups well
– design has two roles: 1) the technical product design and project implementation, and 2) advanced visualization of concepts; need to separate the two; can’t jam advanced concept visualization into an ongoing project
– moving UX into a product group instead of a central service is key; getting the product group to invest in UX work before there is a “project” in development
– how does your oversight role work: key role is to keep the different silos communicating; forcing function; balance the communication and delivering results
– how do you attract and motivate designers: are you solving a problem that people are really intersted in; does the organization value and invest in design, that it “gets” design; Fidelity takes care of people, and invests in the space for creative work; my office reflects that I spend my whole day talking to people; round table, conference phone, white board, book shelves, remote control collection on wall (as inspiration that there are lots of hard to use controls, just as there are hard to use financial product)
– transitioning to mobile is a big deal; created a ‘device bar’ in the middle of the space to show that what they work on has to work on all those devices; moved them from a lock box to an open display; “culture is a story you tell yourself and everyone repeats over and over”; cultural focal point; teaching tool when other groups come in for a tour
– Fidelity UX group has been around for decades, did you make changes to the roles and titles and what they imply: every designer’s not a vice president :); roles and titles are different things; treating people fairly with titles and such is important in a big organization; understanding roles means that the title doesn’t restrict what you do; e.g. act like a creative director and guide the code changes, don’t create mockups to just move a few things around; his main role is to keep the culture going well and develop the young designers; not all folks want a management role; need a contributor path to advance in their career; worked with HR to understand that the more senior a contributor is, the more different roles they can fill, so you can pay an individual more that fills more roles yet reduce the overall cost
– you have to pay designers well, as well as create a great culture; design is a real career; need to respect the people you work with and make sure the organizational culture supports that; does the organization stand for something you can believe in; e.g. individual can bang a gong and recognize good work by another, makes it a public and positive
– how did you roll out the space design and make it work: the space is not just for design; design hosts people coming together at certain points in a project; people locate there for an entire agile project; innovation space, not design space
– how do you deal with partnerships and acquisitions: work with many startup companies on specific things, but difficult to scale; what works for one customer segment may not work at all for others; Fidelity has diverse consumers, from retired folks to kids; design role is to drive the requirements and make that knowledge of the differences and commonalities available
– use a lot of internal design groups and many agencies; have an explicit process for evaluating design firms and saying what they are good at; when someone is looking for an external firm, they have a list of recommended ones that are vetted and agreements in place already
– what do you look for in an agency: folks go out and talk to different agencies; different agencies have different specialties; biggest thing is ensuring the way you work together is good; seed people across teams; share pattern libraries and tools
– customer-centricity taken too far, like at Amazon: comes right from the top of the organization, treating people well; people come and want to stay; previous experience included a financial service company that didn’t, and it was dynamic, but probably not a long-term success culture
– individuals with multiple roles on a project: ideal agile is no individual is on multiple projects, but not realistic; they are senior enough to know how to do things more effectively and productively; tension between coming up with new ideas and testing with users; creative frission; try to keep user researchers seperate so they don’t test something that they themselves designed
– how do you mentor and coach more junior designers: constantly hiring as a large company; two part strategy, 1) always look for the best folks in the industry, and 2) hire really junior people via internships and straight out of college; junior folks don’t have the tools and skills to succeed, so need to invest a lot in training and mentoring; every new one gets partnered with a more senior designer; investment pays of quickly; as you become more senior, you are expected to be a mentor; may teach a class a few times a year

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