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In 2018, Formidable Labs, the world-famous javascript engineering organization, approached me with the opportunity of starting their design offering from the ground up. I had the chance to define a new brand, a new team, a set of new offerings, and help guide an entire discipline inside an organization I had immense respect for. 🚀


Building the Team

When I began, I was the first full-time design expert at the company. Four years later, the Product & Design organization has a Director of Design, Director of Product, 14 Designers, 4 Product and 4 Project ICs. We have built discrete, open-pay enabled career ladders for both Design and Product, as well as an internal “snowflake tool” to help our ICs grow in the way they want to grow. I’m proud to say the Product & Design org is integral to the operations of Formidable.

In addition to the core team, I was also instrumental in standing up our Design Technologist team, as well as being a Leadership sponsor for our DEI Committee.

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Making A Brand, and the System

Formidable had a fairly bland and uninspiring brand before I joined. Working with an external agency for the mark, I led our small core team to expand it into an entire brand stance. Drawing inspiration from the Bauhaus movement, which valued engineering rigor and best practices as core principles, I created a brand vision that fit neatly within our domain space, as well as communicating that we were a welcoming and human-based organization that is eager to solve problems.

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We now have an evolving Design System, more swag than you can shake a stick at, and a brand that is solid enough to retain its shape, but flexible enough to fit whatever future needs arise.

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Crafting the Offering

As initially conceived, the design team was created to do the simple work of crafting UX flows to support engineering work. However, as we started having real conversations with clients not only around what they requested, but how to solve their core problems we had to very quickly evolve to a more nimble and product-oriented mindset. Formidable now provides a range of user-oriented services, like qualitative research, competitive product analysis, and our newest offering, a Product Innovation Lab, which is a fixed-fee 2 week design sprint designed to unlock the trickiest product problems.

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Team-Oriented Success

One of the challenges I faced in bringing Design and Product to Formidable was not only educating external partners like Puma, Nintendo, T-Mobile, and Google that we now offer design services, but internal stakeholders as well. My proudest achievement is establishing a culture inside of Formidable that not only appreciates design and product as essential part of shipping good code, but desires it. Creating blended teams of product people, designers, and engineers who work together to make amazing products rings a bell inside of me like no other. The work we have made as a unified digital product squad has unlocked some of the best projects of my career.

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