Design Systems for People

Communication, Collaboration, and Culture


Aug 19, 2019
9:30 am
4:30 pm
Adobe at 100 Hooper

You’ve just spent months auditing your products, creating a design system library, documenting it, and maybe even working with a peer in engineering to start coding up the component. But when you start to share out the system with your peers, it falls–flat.

This is one of the most common patterns we see working with teams standing up design systems. The challenge is that the problem doesn’t rest in what’s in the system itself, but in what makes up the culture that surrounds it. A design system isn’t just a product. It’s also an artifact of your cultural system. And its success therefore hinges on the success of your culture: how well your teams communicate, collaborate around a shared purpose, and work together to drive, own, and evangelize the system moving forward. 

In this workshop we’ll drive into the cultural technologies that make design systems successful. How to identify and empathize with your internal stakeholders and conduct research to better understand their needs, to structure a governance system based on shared ownership, to challenge your mental models and build an inclusive process of designing and adopting components, and to plan collectively for the future.


This is an interactive workshop that is a combination of lectures, hands-on activities and discussion. There will be time for individual work as well as group collaboration.


  • Identify the values of stakeholders to ensure your design system maps to needs and strengths through governance
  • Identify your mental model of collaboration across design systems and those of other workshop participants
  • Capture human patterns of communication as part of your system to compliment the visual, code, and content patterns we normally expect
  • Gain perspective and understanding on the “bigger picture” and benefits of healthy communication and collaboration
  • Create actionable next steps and learn how to communicate value outward and upward

Who should attend:

  • Any designers, engineers, or product managers who are building a design system at their company or will be using and referencing an internal system
  • Team leads and directors who are looking for ways to improve collaboration and communication across design
  • Members of designops teams
  • In-house designers are recommended but designers working as consultants or in-agency can find this beneficial as well

Sketch Notes

Design Systems for People