There is a critical gap in understanding how meso-scale team processes i.e. interactions between individuals in a team, develop in design teams and specifically how they dynamically balance design/managerial effort. We treat this deficit by contrasting two in-depth cases using work sampling data. We identify a number of contributions. First, we describe how design team processes display both goal/action and temporal heterogeneity. Second, we demonstrate how this heterogeneity is underpinned by common principles that consistently shape team processes in design. Specifically: proportional goal/action composition and recurring process patterns over time. Finally, we describe how these principles can be integrated via ‘archetypal process types’. Together, these substantially extend prior theory and point to specific implications for future design research.