Last reviewed: 23 March 2022

Design surgery: Terms of reference

Feedback and direction are critical to maintain and improve the quality of the design we do.

In teams, we do peer reviews using design crits.

Our design leadership team is accountable for the standard and quality of design. As our team gets larger, we need to maintain the quality of our craft and share expertise across teams. Design leadership will take a more active role in giving direction and feedback.

We’ll do this through a weekly design surgery.

We'll try it for one month and review it at the end of April 2022.


  • The design surgery will be dedicated time for designers and teams to get direction and feedback from design leadership.
  • It will also be time for design leadership to support designers in working through challenging problems and making informed design decisions.
  • It will be a space to maintain and improve the quality of the design work, enabling us to create better experiences for our customers and colleagues.
  • We will work across the whole spectrum of design, from customer experience metrics to polished production design.
  • Finally, it will be a safe space to escalate any weighty issues blocking our ability to design effectively.


We’re focusing on developing the design standards and quality within the Experience team at Co-op.

The design surgery will include the following disciplines:

  • Content design and strategy
  • CX strategy
  • Interaction design
  • Service design
  • User research
  • Visual design

In the future we may broaden this group out to include wider disciplines in the Experience team such as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation), and product management.


The design surgery will be open every Wednesday morning from 9:30 – 12:00.

Time Discipline Design leader(s)
9:30am Experience strategy and high-priority escalations Katherine Wastell and Hannah Horton
10:00am Service design and user research Adam Hopwood
10:30am Content design and strategy Hannah Horton
11:00am Customer experience measurement and strategy Gem Hinett and Nate Langley
11:30am Interaction design, visual design and front-end James Rice, Matt Tyas and Gail Mellows

How it will work

For the first month, we’ll trial inviting designers to come and share work.

Before the surgery

  1. We'll send you an email inviting you to come and share a particular piece of work.
  2. If there's a piece of work you'd like us to prioritise, put yourself forward by requesting a slot at the design surgery.
  3. We’ll offer you a date and a 30-minute time slot.
  4. Please share your work with us at least the day before the session (how to do this will be outlined when we offer you a slot).
    • It can be in any format; a Figma file, an interview guide, a sketch, a Miro board.
    • There is no need to create a polished deck unless that’s what you need feedback on.

At the surgery

You'll have 30 minutes:

  1. 10 minutes to explain the work and context.
  2. 15 minutes for discussion and feedback.
  3. 5 minutes to agree actions and next steps.

After the surgery

After the session, we'll email the feedback we discussed alongside our decisions and arrange any follow-up time or escalation.

The feedback email will include expectations on how you respond to the feedback, which we will agree in the surgery.

The surgery should be an open line of communication to the leadership team. We will encourage you to return later to let us know what has happened since.

We’ll ask you for feedback to help us improve the design surgery.


  • Everyone did the best job they could with the information they had available to them at the time.
  • Designers don't need to defend their work or decisions
  • Show the thing.
  • Feedback is a gift.
  • We can improve even the best piece of work in the world.
  • We're aiming for progress, not perfection
  • We want to be more experimental, which means we'll get some bets wrong, and that's ok.
  • It is not a forum for leadership to 'sign-off' designs.

Get support

Co-op Digital colleagues can get support in our dedicated Slack channel:


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