From Silos to Synergy

In the world of enterprise UX, agility isn’t just a methodology; it's often a survival mechanism. At Dell Technologies, multiple design teams often competed for similar work so setting ourselves apart mattered. My team. After a wave of layoffs in 2023 my UX team faced an unwelcome new challenge: evolve rapidly or risk termination. This case study digs into how we navigated from a siloed structure towards a dynamic, agile ecosystem, catalyzed by design leadership and a commitment to operational excellence.






The Backdrop

Since the EMC merger in 2016, our team—comprising UX designers, UX researchers, visual designers, and developers—had operated within the silos of product and marketing divisions. Communication was inconsistent, and collaboration occurred more by chance than by design, leading to a significant underutilization of our collective talent. The situation reached a critical point when our team faced a drastic 40% reduction in workforce, compounded by a concurrent decrease in external agency support throughout Dell. This double blow not only stretched our individual capacities but also demanded a radical transformation of our operational model to align with the escalated expectations, despite the diminished resources.


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Vision and Strategy

The vision was to cultivate an agile, federated model that transcended traditional boundaries. The objective was to unify the team around a shared process and common purpose, leveraging the diverse skill sets of subject matter experts (SMEs) to foster adaptability, creativity, and improved outcomes.

To bring this vision to life, the following structural changes were initiated:

  • Cross-functional Collaboration: SMEs were empowered to self-organize around project needs, creating a fluid exchange of ideas and expertise.

  • Enhanced Communication Rhythms: Weekly coordination touchpoints and 'Scrumban' rituals were established to maintain project velocity.

  • Tooling for Agility: Adoption of Figjam virtual whiteboards and a lightweight discovery sprint model streamlined the design process.

Overcoming Resistance

Change is inherently disruptive, and resistance was an expected companion. The comfort of the known worked against the uncertainty of agile transformation. Skepticism surfaced as the new methodologies—sprints, backlogs, rolling WIP chats—challenged the existing workflows and comfort zones of our creatives.

The Turning Point

Driving adoption hinged on demonstrating the tangible benefits of agile practices through strategic, quick-win projects. We highlighted how agile research and design methodologies cut our research-design iteration time in half, celebrating these victories as a team. This approach shifted the perspective of SMEs, who initially valued their independent control and autonomy. They gradually embraced a more collaborative model, recognizing the opportunity to make broader impacts across various projects. This shift not only played to their strengths but also sidestepped less impactful milestones, streamlining their path to success.

Cultural Evolution

The adoption of agile practices marked a cultural evolution. The once tedious details became the nucleus of our operations. UX researchers and designers began to interact dynamically, enriching our work with real-time collaboration. Our focus on Narrative UX brought a new depth to our work, aligning emotional marketing narratives with the core objectives of the business and the values of our users. Eighteen months into our agile transformation—and a year removed from the workforce reduction crisis—we've expanded our team with two new researchers and a design program manager. We've also been at the forefront of developing innovative agile design management and insight-driven collaboration models. While the journey towards complete transformation is ongoing, the strides we've made have dramatically shifted our operational model, culture, reputation, and effectiveness, marking a distinct departure from the heavily siloed, post-pandemic environment we once knew.

Measurable Outcomes

The transformation yielded significant results:

  • Capacity Expansion: Our capacity to handle projects tripled, even with a smaller team.

  • Employee Satisfaction: Leader Favorability at nearly 90%, eNPS jumped by 20%.

  • Increased Stakeholder Engagement: We doubled the number of stakeholders and projects we were involved with.

  • Time to Delivery Reduced: Design cycles delivering prototypes within 5-15 days

“Congratulations, you are one of our Tell Dell Rockstars! This designation recognizes leaders who scored 86% favorability or higher on all four Tell Dell categories and had a Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) of +58 or higher (beating the industry benchmark of +57). Thank you for your commitment to inspiring our people! ”

Allison Dew

Chief Marketing Officer | Dell Technologies


Our transition to a lean agile operating model reflects a strategic evolution from necessity to competitive advantage. The journey was both a challenge and a revelation; it was a redefinition of our team's role within the broader business landscape. The transformation has also reshaped our stakeholder relationships, doubling our engagement and project involvement. These are not just metrics of success but indicators of a profound shift in how we operate and deliver value.

Through persistent leadership, strategic restructuring, and a culture that embraced change, the design team was transformed. Our narrative is one of increased efficiency, greater innovation, and a testament to the potential that lies in embracing collaboration and teamwork instead of ownership and control.