D-Ford Design Research Lead

Ford Motor Company

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Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, MI

Job Description & Qualifications

Design Researchers lead the team through human-centered research to uncover insights that contribute to all phases of design. They champion the voice of the users and leverage inspiration to discover hidden opportunities.

Lead your Team

  • Lead interdisciplinary teams through the design process, where harmonious collaboration is imperative.
  • Manage team research budget, including compensation for participants and team travel.
  • Inspire teams through collaboration as well as direction, vision, and planning of all aspects of project work and deliverables.
  • Manage communication with internal stakeholders and external partners.

Plan and Inspire

  • Design and plan generative, qualitative research, including selecting target users and identifying experts, analogous companies, and services.
  • Conduct external benchmarking to inform the design research plan.
  • Develop profiles and screening criteria for research recruiting.

Experiment and Think Creatively 

  • Experiment with different tools and methods to execute on research plans, e.g, co-creation.
  • Use and help the team use methods such as field observation, analogous research, conversations with experts and extreme users, concept evaluation, and participatory design, to explore the edge of what’s possible in the near and far.
  • Design compelling research experiences that generate actionable insights.
  • Partner with other disciplines to develop visual aids for research, e.g. flashcards, storyboards.
  • With the design team, create research stimuli to deeply understand user needs, uncover possibilities, and test assumptions.

Facilitate and Synthesize 

  • Facilitate research events such as co-creation workshops.
  • Synthesize research findings and unearth systems-level patterns and frameworks.
  • Help develop creative storytelling tools to enable designing for user goals, values, and aspirations.
  • Make research findings relevant and impactful for design through a variety of formats such as insights, decks, stories, videos, experiences, and exhibits

Basic Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in sociology, anthropology, psychology, design or other liberal arts degree.
  • 5+ years of qualitative research experience culminating in a sound ability to lead a team, scope a research process, lead fieldwork, conduct interviews and do desk research.
  • 3+ years of experience leading highly collaborative, interdisciplinary project teams in human-centered design.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Master’s or PhD in sociology, anthropology, psychology, design, or other liberal arts degree.
  • Experience working on highly collaborative teams, or other multidisciplinary teams.
  • Experience working with engineering and design teams.
  • Passionate about automotive and transportation industry.
  • Experience in designing and/or facilitating group collaboration workshops.
  • Experience using design thinking principles or methods in a formal, in-person setting and in large organizations.
  • 2+ years experience working with quantitative data, surveys, numbers, and analysis to derive research insights.


A bit about us
We’re in the midst of the biggest change the automotive industry has ever seen.

Just as cars changed the world over the last century - creating the driver, highways, gas stations, and malls - self-driving cars, electric powertrains, and connected vehicles will radically reshape how we live, work, and play, our cities and society themselves, in the next hundred years.

At D–Ford, you’ll be at the heart of creating that future. You’ll be at the cutting edge of Ford’s most strategically critical work, designing people and society’s needs into the heart of our next generation of products, services and experiences.

You’ll also be designing at scale. Every day, Ford’s vehicles and services support millions of people around the world. So, at D–Ford, we’re not just inventing the future, we’re operationalizing it, to help all those people move through their lives, better.

We drive human progress through empathy, creativity and design.

Our values are our guiding light, and the conscience for our work, and our people. We’re looking for people who share this way of being - you don’t need to be convinced of it, you just get it:

    We are curious about the world, designing systems and connections that enable people to move more freely.
    We are inspired by the people around us, bringing their unique stories to the forefront of our designs.
    We provoke new ways of thinking about tomorrow’s toughest design challenges, while grounded in what’s possible.
    We build in the open, rigorously testing, iterating and evolving our ideas with others.
    We radically collaborate across teams, geographies, and philosophies, uncovering new insights to tomorrow’s problems.
    Our strength comes from bringing our whole selves to the community—from introspective to playful or quirky. What will you bring?


We don’t hire “Design Thinkers.” We hire T-people. You:

  • Have deep expertise in a craft
  • Are comfortable working in relatively flat and dynamic teams
  • Are passionate to work on ambiguous and complex future challenges
  • Have a collaborative and empathetic mindset to solve problems with teams across Ford

We have four global labs: Palo Alto, Detroit, London and soon, Shanghai.


Join our team as we create tomorrow!  We believe in putting people first, working together, and facing challenges head-on, because we’re Built Ford Tough. We’re one team striving to make people’s lives better while creating value, delivering excellence and ultimately going for the win.

Candidates for positions with Ford Motor Company must be legally authorized to work in the United States on a permanent basis.  Verification of employment eligibility will be required at the time of hire.  Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Ford Motor Company is an equal opportunity employer committed to a culturally diverse workforce. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, color, age, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status or protected veteran.

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