Moving from Service to Strategy

How do we move the Digital User Experience Team forward?


Over a week period, I was asked to synthesize notes taken during an all-hands session centered around  how to move our design team and organization at HCSC/BlueCross Blue Shield  from a service to strategy mindset and then to present to members of the design leadership team.


The Digital User Experience Team (known as DUET) at HCSC/BlueCross BlueShield has experienced both growth and growing pains as the department fights to evangelize design thinking throughout the organization and works to move the design team closer to the inception of projects, rather than just be engaged as a service with little input on the product. Over the last few months, the design leadership team and DesignOps have held various workshops around different topics in order to better understand the current environment for the design team. After holding an all-hands meeting and discussing both the current design process as well as the desired outcome, I was asked to synthesize the results and propose some next steps. Having only been with the team for a month at this point, I engaged two of my colleagues to  help better understand the notes and feedback.

The Meeting

The all-hands meeting consisted of three parts: individual reflection with some guided "from this to that" thought starters ("From outputs to outcomes" etc), breakouts into teams of mixed disciplines to discuss the design process, and discussion.

Whiteboard with notes
Notes from the meeting discussion


With notes taken from the session as a whole, the group discussion whiteboard notes and the group activity notes as anchor, sticky notes were created for each individual opportunity or theme that presented itself, with individual activity notes used to supplement. We started by mapping each sticky note to a Venn diagram using the framework of People, Process and Tools. Each sticky note was then given a colored dot to demarcate where it aligned to the framework so that we could continue to keep track as we mapped the opportunities and themes in different ways.

People, Process, Tools Venn Diagram
A cleaned-up version of our People, Process, Tools Venn Diagram

After mapping each of these opportunities/themes to the People, Process, Tools framework, we decided to next arrange these sticky notes along a desired process timeline for DUET work. With the Double Diamond process as our base, we broke the timeline up into five sections: Stakeholder Initiation/Intake, Define Problem, Explore Solutions, Build, and Measure. The sticky notes were then aligned to a part of that process, whether that fell into a specific section, was a theme running along the entire process, or an overarching theme.

Proposed Design Process
The proposed design process

Next, we used the group and individual notes plus solicited discipline input to create proto-personas. We began this work by mapping the goals, needs and pain points for each disciplines and players in the process.  Due to the holidays, we weren't able to get validation from each of the disciplines, but have plans to continue gathering data through a survey.

ls, Needs, Painpoints by Discipline
Goals, Needs and Painpoints by Discipline

Overarching Themes

After mapping out the notes in three different ways, we looked to pull out the overarching themes we could find.

Managing Externalities
Improving the Project/Product Experience
Strengthening the Team

As a part of helping to guide next steps, we created a modified version of the Burlton Hexagon, a framework to map business capability, i.e. "what" a business does at its core, rather than "how". We knew that a lot of what we captured throughout the synthesis process and would present to the design leadership team was around the "how",  so it would be important to make sure we as a team didn't lose track of the "what."

Modified Burlton Hexagon
Modified Burlton Hexagon

One of the solutions the design leadership team had suggested as a part of their other workshops was to create "action teams" around the various topics that could help improve the team and the design process. Current teams in progress include the Process Mapping Team (working on the Design & Collaboration process) and the Tooling team (determining the tools our team uses currently and what tools would improve each discipline). From our synthesis process, we identified four other potential action teams:

Next Steps

Helping an organization as decentralized and old as BlueCross BlueShield become a more design-oriented company will always be an ongoing process. With that in mind, we presented what we saw as the next steps going forward from this synthesis activity.

Validate Findings
  • Are there further questions based on our initial findings/synthesis?
  • Are their additional areas to continue exploring?
Prioritize Opportunities
  • Identify efforts that are currently under way, and prioritize the opportunities that will most help achieve our goals (relative to effort)
Assemble Action Teams
  • Allocate resources to begin working on opportunities
Establish Key Metrics
  • Understand what can be measured and use that to establish a baseline and track progress!