About the role
The Design Director will deepen InWithForward’s design capacity, adding rigor, audacity, and panache to our work. As Design Director, you’ll collaborate with Sarah, our Lead Partner, to set and sustain the direction of teams across Canada. That means you’ll guide teams on design mindsets, strategy, methods and products, jumping into projects to model top-notch practice.
Over a few months, you might be:
- Researching and charting out a new stream of work for IWF: suggesting new kinds of products, processes, communication materials, and backend work flow
- Prioritizing design deliverables & writing briefs with and for UX, graphic, industrial and service designers
- Running sprints for teams to journey map a new service
- Modeling how to mock-up touchpoints across a range of channels (digital & face-to-face)
- Coaching junior designers on how to develop prototyping plans, and providing constructive and regular feedback
- Facilitating a workshop for senior civil servants to visually map system leverage points
- Collaborating with a social scientist to develop a new way to measure behaviour change for people who aren’t literate
- Initiating a partnership with a design school to set-up a fellowship program
- Building a quick & dirty website to document and publicly share emergent learning
- Creating content and speaking at conferences, events, showcases.
We’re looking for another wonderful human to play a senior role in our team:
- You are intellectually curious and entrepreneurial. You are stoked by ideas & concepts from across disciplines, and are always spotting and initiating opportunities. You are not the type that waits to be asked.
- You have at least 10 years of experience across multiple sectors applying design research, service design and systems design (all from a human-centered perspective) resulting in great products & services with your fingerprints all over them.
- You intimately know all stages of the design process from scoping to design research to prototyping to blueprinting, and are comfortable making just about anything (be it gantt charts, presentations, posters, digital mock-ups, brochures, journey maps, puppet shows, infographics, websites, physical spaces). That means you can expertly toggle between high-level strategy and concrete details.
- You’ve got a strong design aesthetic and heaps of reference points and can clearly articulate what is good, when, and why. You know when to make something beautiful, and when it’s good enough, for now.
- You’re a dynamic leader with a track record of inspiring and mentoring teams with your listening ear and thoughtful perspectives. You give examples, clear direction, and honest feedback.
- You’re a confident communicator, able to share why design matters to a range of audiences: from people in power to folks on the frontlines to team members. You are skilled at explaining the rationale or intent behind things.
- You’re a pragmatic idealist. You can see the big picture and how to chisel away to get closer to it. You are adept at creating realistic project plans, managing resources, and moving through bottlenecks and conflicts.
- You’ve got dynamic networks and aren’t afraid to tap into them to attract new talent and leverage cutting-edge expertise. Where you lack connections, you go out and make them.
- You still love to get your hands dirty with sketching, visualizing and building tangible products across digital and face-to-face channels.
- You really like fast-paced environments and revel in a diversity of tasks. Having lots of balls in the air doesn’t scare you, in fact, it’s your preference! You’re used to setting up your own systems and strategies for time management.
InWithForward is an ambitious social design organization. Our goal is to turn our social safety nets into trampolines. We do that by flipping the order in which social policies and programs are typically made: starting with people, in communities, to see and hear their realities; co-designing and testing new types of interactions to shift those realities; and then codifying those interactions into spreadable practices, principles, and policies.
Most days bring something utterly surprising. We may be living outside for a few weeks to understand the experience of homelessness (yes, we go immersive). We might be role playing a new kind of support network for a refugee family in their living room. We could be running a small-scale version of that support network, making and testing a journey map, theory of change, and touchpoints as we go. Or we might be in Ottawa working with policymakers to visualize and re-frame a social policy area, putting together a pop-up exhibit to try out a new way of looking at a contested issue.
We’re often described as radical, but we prefer the term grounded. We’re grounded in lived experience, in prototyping, in academic literature, and in a value set best described as humanistic. Our role is to show what an alternative future looks and feels like. That means, we’re often going against the grain, challenging dominant ideologies (including those about design & innovation) and advancing different logics. Success isn’t nicer, better, more efficient or digitized services. Success is people leading fulfilling lives in connected families and convivial communities.
We came to Canada five years ago, forging partnerships with four non-profits who shared our vision. After more than a decade of international efforts to scale new ideas, we realized that implementation requires more than great design. True change can only happen if the underlying conditions are ripe: if there are trusting partnerships, deep intelligence, vision, and motivation to act. That’s why we focus on three things:
- Stories: we collect, package and aggregate ethnographic stories for policymakers and social sector leaders. Our goal is to translate people’s lived experience of marginalization into usable and actionable data. As Design Director, you’ll help us to build a database and librarian service.
- Solutions: we build teams within and between non-profits to move from data to ideas to prototypes. We then incubate promising prototypes to spread. In 2019, we’re prototyping two new services for newcomers to Canada, and supporting three solutions to grow (Meraki, Real Talk, and Kudoz). As Design Director, you’ll amplify the design practice across these teams.
- Thought leadership: we work to shift mindsets and change how the social sector thinks about welfare, help, support and care. We do this through writing, short films, podcasts, and events. As Design Director, you’ll help us reshape our comms products.
It’s a big role, we know. So why take it on? Well, quite simply, because there is no one else quite like us. We’re a spirited group of humans who truly put our all into making trampolines. Whether we’re running a 5:30am party in the snow to meet street-involved adults or taking three days to reflect on what we do and why, we make big ideas happen. While we certainly don’t always get it right, we’re honest about our fuck-ups and missteps. We are committed to learning and to growing as individuals, as a team, and as an organization. And, luckily, we’re in control of shaping who we are and what we become. We can guarantee that the work won’t be easy — some days, it will be downright exhausting — but we can guarantee it will feel meaningful, rich, even liberating. This is a role with real agency and real impact.
How to apply?
Yup, we’re looking for a pretty special person, willing to make a commitment to be on-the-ground in Vancouver, with regular travel to Toronto and across Canada. Since we’re all about finding that great fit, we’re open to sponsoring visas to Canada and helping with moving expenses. Starting salary at $90K.
- Your resume, portfolio, and any writing samples you have.
- Make us something visual that tells us why you, why now for the role of Design Director and describes the leadership approach you’ll bring.
- Show us you know about us: send along 10 questions & curiosities about IWF, based on what you’ve read/heard/watched. (Hint: our blog and YouTube channel has lots of material!)
- Email your package to email@example.com by October 25.