Patterns: the leaders-only design systems retreat

Your design system’s success is predicated on bottom-to-top buy-in: not just from practitioners—the ones using it every day—but leadership, too. However, while there’s a wealth of design system resources for practitioners, leaders are often left out of the design system discussion. How are you supposed to prioritize design system usage when no one’s taking the time to explain their worth from a leader's perspective?

We are. Meet Patterns, a three-day retreat for design, engineering, and product leaders to come together and: 

  • Share challenges
  • Learn from peers and industry leaders
  • Develop relationships and know-how that will help you affect change and lead your team towards achieving what used to feel impossible

Want to be one of the 50 attendees or nominate someone else to join? Go here. Want the full backstory behind Patterns? Read on.

What’s on deck at Patterns?

Since Knapsack’s inception, we’ve been singularly focused on one thing: design systems. From the years of focus on design systems and the people who work with them, one observation stands out from the rest: the design systems that deliver all the benefits people love talking about—brand consistency, accessibility, speed to market, cost savings, etc—do so because the practitioners and leaders are equally committed to operating in a systems-based culture. Companies that adopt design system-informed processes see breakthroughs within and outside of the design system itself.

The digital product landscape is full of pain points

Design, engineering, and product teams have been designing and building products the same way for decades: designers create high-fidelity comps for developers to try to recreate with code. This approach works, kind of, but it also leads to unavoidable time wasted on mundane button- and pixel-pushing, instead of the work that actually increases ROI.

Setting aside design systems for a moment, there are a combination of factors at play today that impact every companies that delivers value to customers through digital experiences. Those factors include:

  • The revenue growth of companies with top-quartile McKinsey Design Index scores achieved up to 2.5x higher revenue growth over their competitors. (Source: McKinsey, “The Business Value of Design”)
  • No company is safe from disruption. The average lifespan of an S&P 500 company in 1964 was 33 years—vs. 24 years in 2016. In 2027, the average lifespan of an S&P 500 company is forecasted to be 10 years, meaning 50% of S&P 500 companies will be replaced between 2018 and 2027. (Source: Innosight, “2018 Corporate Longevity Forecast: Creative Destruction is Accelerating”)
  • In the “new era of work” (yawn, we know), hiring and retaining the talent that companies need to deliver on their digital product roadmaps is more challenging than ever.
  • Remote/hybrid work is here to stay. Teams need to get better at working together across different locations and timezones and collaborating asynchronously.
  • Shipping new products and features quickly isn’t enough. To meet consumer demands and differentiate themselves from the competition, new releases have to deliver consistent, accessible, and on-brand experiences. “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experiences they want everywhere.” (Source: Paul Papas, IBM)

Design systems are a guaranteed ROI boost for your team

As companies compete in markets that are increasingly saturated for forever-decreasing profit margins, to win the digital product game, design, engineering, and product leaders need to deliver results across a variety of priorities:

  • Innovate faster than competitors
  • Ship consistent, on-brand, accessible products across complex product ecosystems
  • Support company growth targets and metrics
  • Create a high-performing team culture
  • Attract, onboard, and retain top talent
  • Improve collaboration across design, engineering, and product orgs working in different locations and timezones

The best design system won’t solve all of these problems on its own, but it will help you solve many. Building a culture based on collaboration and creative ideation will not only support people goals like retention and recruitment, but also innovation and market differentiation.

Empowering leaders

For the leader who wants to learn about design systems, there’s a noticeable lack of resources—but we want to change that. 

Meet Patterns, the design systems conference for leaders.

Patterns is a curated retreat-style event in serene Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’ve designed Patterns for design, engineering, and product leaders who find themselves without time to spare for creativity or restorative activities. Patterns takes leaders out of their day-to-day rhythms by bringing them together at a one-of-a-kind venue and engaging their creativity via an immersive three-day experience. You can expect:

  • Connection. We’ve created a safe space to “get real” with fellow leaders and create relationships that will endure beyond the retreat.
  • Learning. Hear from thought leaders and those who have tackled these challenges before.
  • Activation. Leave the event with the relationships and know-how to affect change and lead your team to achieve what used to feel impossible.

If you found yourself nodding along as you read this post, we’d love to have you be on of the 50 attendees joining us at Patterns. Go here to apply—hope to see you in Santa Fe!

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