Experience based strategy — Everyone needs to think like an owner

Kevin Russell
Aug 24, 2016 · 3 min read

TL:DR The best products are created when everyone on a team is empowered to think (and act) like an owner.


It’s been documented that a user/design-centered approach to problem solving is an effective business tool…to the tune of companies that have embraced the approach outperforming the S&P Index by 228% over the last 10 years.

But how does an organization get from where they are…to there? How can a company move from a siloed, task-driven, product-centered mentality to a collective, goal-driven, user/design-centered business approach?

It begins with Vision, Leadership, and Ownership.

Ownership needs to start from the top-down to make it bottom-up .

In successful teams, everyone has a voice, and everyone is empowered to think like an owner.

When individuals take ownership of their role in a process, product, sprint, enhancement… they take ownership of the success of the effort and inherently bring their best to the table. However, ownership has to start from the top-down to make it a bottom-up success.

Leadership at every level

Fostering a practice of ownership is one of the most important duties that a leader can perform.

It can take time to create and, depending on the culture, be challenging to implement.

But that is why I call leadership a practice! It is something you work on, something you cultivate and improve.


Within the framework of Experience Strategy, ownership means constantly checking and rechecking your work against the goals that you are working towards, validating your efforts against the research and strategy that the overall vision is based on, and creating solutions based on a tacit agreement that creating more value for the user is the best way to ensure financial success for your organization.


And regardless of the initial challenges or resistance that may (or hopefully, may not) exist to this approach… the benefits far outweigh the risks:

  • Fostering ownership of each member’s role in the project, and establishing a clear vision of the project goals boost team efficiency.
  • Ownership empowers each team member to have a voice in the process, which impact communication, collaboration and productivity…because each team member’s efforts are being validated constructively against everyone else’s efforts, as well as the collective vision.

An ownership approach allows ideas to flourish.

Yoda © Lucasfilm Ltd

Leaders that cultivate vision-based and goal-oriented practices give each team member a clear understanding of their role in the project and a defined path to taking ownership of their contribution to the effort.

By providing team members these tools, you are also giving them the space to do their best work.

Is a design decision going to impact the development effort?

Is an IT initiative running counter to the overall vision for the end user?

With an “ownership at every level” approach to team management, everyone has a seat at the table… so design, development, IT, sales, marketing, business are all empowered owners of the vision and have an active role in ensuring its success.


Can your company or project benefit from a more collaborative, owner-based approach?

Click here to download my UX Strategy Workbook for Owners. It is a practical guide to defining a user-centered vision for your product or service, aligning business goals to create stronger customer experiences, and establishing the parameters and metrics that will define success for you team.

Kevin Russell

Written by

Experience Strategy & Product Designer… http://experiencedesign.works/

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