Alex Tran

Designer at Pivotal


The Power of Design Rituals

3:20 PM–3:50 PM

In just a few weeks, a team I worked with went from saying things like, "We don't have time for research, just make the mockup," to being able to:

1. Hold regular, weekly design collaboration sessions with members from all disciplines, even when I wasn't present.
2. Use user research to successfully and accurately invalidate executive initiatives that would bring no user value.
3. Regularly reference design techniques they learned in weekly team retrospectives.

How was this possible? Like many designers, I have struggled to understand how to make design relevant inside of product development cycles that always seem centered around engineering and project management. There never seemed to be time for design.

It was then I realized this was on purpose. Weekly engineering and management rituals were shaping the team's work and focus. From that insight, I was able to create a 10 minute weekly design ritual called Design Coffee, which became a launching pad for design collaboration, and a way for the team to strengthen their "design habit." I will be walking attendees through a process of how to build design rituals that enable their teams to become amazing design contributors.


As a staff product designer at Pivotal Labs, Alex coaches enterprise product teams in building human-centered design practices through pair design. He’s passionate about enabling Balanced Teams of designers, engineers, and product managers as collaborators in the design process through better team rituals. When not consulting to Fortune 500 companies like Dell and Boeing, he can be found growing his Seattle based mini-farm, getting out the vote, and advocating for diversity in tech as a board member of