Article Post
May 3rd, 2019

Design is about creating a culture of change.

Designers should get out of their comfort zone and start preaching to others that Design is a tool for change and business transformation not just to create products.

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Have you noticed that Design is maturing within organizations?, from small startups to large corporations now understand the value and impact of Design, it has become more than a “nice to have” department and is now considered a business capability.

Yes! we as designers have been sitting and having a voice at the business table for quite a while now, helping them raise the bar for success in a world of uncertainty and constant change.

But something I have seen as a consultant is that in-house design teams are still struggling with making others understand the value they provide to their organization and making Design permeate through all the levels of a company.

That’s why Designers should first understand the whole picture of what Design is and find a way to make others understand what’s the holistic value of it and changing their perception by making them part of the process.

So let's clarify. Design provides value beyond products.

Everyone now talks about UX, Service Design… or whatever tag that ends with the word “design”, and some companies think that they have become a “design-led” or “design-centric” organization for having their own UX or product teams with a bunch of people carrying around their MacBooks, a stack of post-it notes and markers to write around the walls and talking about user research, customers journeys, wireframes and prototypes (among other design jargon).

And yes, indeed, it’s extremely important to really care about the users by providing meaningful experiences through products and services, but from my point of view, they are still thinking of Design as a “product thing”, creating a perception that the solution to a problem is based on digital outcomes, making other parts of a company think that the role of design teams is to take care of making all those “beautiful screens” and working on apps and websites alongside with developers, leading the design practice to the same place where it was perceived — “THE NICE TO HAVE DEPARTMENT”, when in reality Design is much more than that.

That’s why I see important that designers should stop talking about design and start talking more about business. It’s okay to talk about all the design jargon, it’s necessary to communicate between designers, but what are the outcomes for the business? or why should the C-Suite care about that? what does it mean for a company to have their own design teams?

Designers should get out of their comfort zone and start preaching to others that Design is a tool for change and business transformation not just to create products.
Design is about seeing what can be improved inside the organization.

We know how much Designers are obsessed with thinking on the users, their needs, motivations and pain points and delivering the greatest value to the world outside. But also, it's extremely important to also look into the inside of a company and start detecting what internal challenges they are facing and what actions must be taken to overcome them, and that includes thinking on the persons needed to make that happen.

People need to understand that the design process must not be owned only by the Design, product or innovation teams. It must be put in the hands of non-designers as well.

Imagine if the HR teams could use Design to come up with better recruitment strategies, or work on more attractive and motivating growth plans for personal and professional development of their employees. A big challenge is to make all the areas of a company become more design-minded, I bet the chances of improving and succeeding will be higher, making organizations more agile, resulting on a positive shift in their internal culture.

That’s why design teams must make a step out of their crystal project rooms and start making other parts of the company get involved into the design process, showing them how it works and how they can apply those principles to their own areas, to add value from their trenches, that’s when change could start happening, that’s when a company starts becoming more design-centric or even beyond that, creating a culture of change in which people are comfortable with uncertainty but have the right tools to find clarity by trial and error and having the intention to focus on the problems that matter the most.

So, we as Designers must understand this…

Creating a Design Culture is a matter of intention and patience.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and we know that change is always scary and even worse when it makes us feel uncertain, but Designers know they have the skill to feel comfortable with uncertainty, it’s normal that other people inside the company will have resistance towards change and sometimes they will feel that Design has nothing to do with business, but if the design teams want to start to make things moving and changing for good, they need to come up with a plan.

Start detecting from small to big problems inside your organization and be involved and intentional about solving other types of problems beyond products.

Have the initiative to preach about Design to other departments and show the value of how they can use it, be empathetic and collaborative when working alongside other non-designers. Find a way to have a person that represents the design team at the business table and show results and implications for the company, so they can start understanding the real value of Design and start gaining influence in the business decisions.

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