I am a design leader for Cisco Secure (the security division at Cisco). A large part of our strategy is focussed on the radical simplification of cybersecurity products and we wanted to make sure we had the right skills, tools and practices to deliver on that strategy.

We were inspired by the InVision design maturity model and decided to use it as a way of measuring delivery teams (sometimes known as a squad) across the organization to understanding where we could up our game, and where we could highlight behaviours worth celebrating.

Here are five really important things that came out of that program.

Rolling out a program for measuring dozens of…

We have added Design Producer as a new role to our design ops team and I am quickly realizing that it just might become our secret sauce. Here is what they do, and why you need one!

Our design team is about 70 people spread across design, research, content and ops. We support 6 products, and partner with over 1000 engineers. As the organization’s design maturity increases, two things are changing:

  1. We are getting involved in projects much earlier.
  2. We are seeing a greater need for designers to collaborate more across teams.

As a result, engineers and product managers are…

When you ask for design resources, does it feel like making a wish or playing the lottery?

As a design leader I have spent years trying to convince the business that I need more full time roles on my team.

Let me tell you about what I have learned and hopefully it leads to you getting the resources you need for your team.

Ask the right questions

First of all, stop asking for more roles and instead start asking some other questions.

Business Strategy and Priorities

Unless its already perfectly clear, the first questions I start asking are about strategy, goals and priorities — what is the business…

Many people are currently facing truly chaotic times both at home and at work. The rapidly changing COVID-19 situation we are working within can be overwhelming and can cause individuals or teams to simply be paralyzed – not able to make decisions or take action.

I draw relevant experience from two very different (yet similar) lines of work. I was a firefighter for 13 years in two of the communities where I lived, and I am currently a design executive and facilitator. …

Is it possible to crowd source pandemic innovations by creating an “open source” style online collaborative space where anyone can contribute ideas/solutions and work asynchronously at scale towards the biggest problems we face?

I am really interested in exploring this idea and these are my first steps towards trying something out.

Keep reading if you might be interested in learning more or participating.

Often people have great ideas but no way to take action.

So in times like these, what can we do to connect the dots and speed the pace of moving from problem identification to solution implementation. …

At Cisco we invest heavily in collaborative practices like design thinking as a way to ensure we find and solve the right problems (more on that here).

Collaboration relies on meetings and workshops and for various reasons its not always feasible to have everyone in the same room. We have gained a lot of experience with remote collaboration and we want to share some of our favourite tips for making it more effective.

  1. Facilitation is key
    Every meeting, regardless whether it is remote or in person, should have someone appointed as the facilitator/chair/leader (not necessarily the organizer). …

Are you interested in having your teams adopt Design Thinking but just don’t know how to start?

Have your teams attended training or workshops but you are still not seeing a change in behaviour?

I am responsible for design transformation within the security business at Cisco and I have focused on Design Thinking as an important tool to develop a strong culture of creativity and innovation.

In rolling out this set of skills to a massive organization I have experienced the above mentioned problems many times and as a result have started to focus on four simple principals that make…

I have been in this game for a looong time, and I have experienced first hand the emergence and maturation of the modern UX discipline as it applies to digital experiences.

We (the UX community) have fought hard to prove the value of UX — to product management, engineering and businesses executives. …

Startup culture attracts a lot of amazing designers and design leaders. But what happens to these designers when their startups get acquired by huge companies? Do they have to change their style? Alter their approach? Can their design ethos and community stay intact? Or do they become part of a larger, meandering machine? I’m going to tell you about my experience of getting acquired by Cisco as a design leader, and how I went about finding my tribe on the inside, coming from the outside.

Working for a scrappy startup is really, really fun. Growing a business, building a strong…

As designers we all want to become better at our craft and as design leaders we want to help our people do the same.

Often we focus on all the things directly related to being a designer — tools, process, frameworks etc. These are definitely worthwhile pursuits but I’ll suggest that if we really want to get better at design then we should focus on soft skills. The skills that have nothing to do with design but they are skills that make us so much more effective in our practice.

Lets get training!

This is my list (in no particular…

Jason Cyr

Leading design transformation for Cisco Security

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