Helping design organizations positively change

Michael Lee
4 min readJul 23, 2020

One of the things I enjoy doing and lecturing in my classes is about how designers can positively help their organizations change. I think at times some new designers working at organizations think they can only help through their design skills (visual, interaction, prototyping, etc.) but there are a lot of other ways designers can help make an impact at their organizations other than just designing things. One of the things a designer can do is to help the team pick the right design tool which has several different impacts to the organization.

A previous student emailed me today and asked for advice on how they can get their company to stop using a very outdated design tool and to help them to start using Figma. They mentioned how their director wasn’t really open to that change and they asked for advice on how they can address that situation. To me changing their main design tool isn’t just about the design tool or an impact to their designers. To me it’s a change to how the company collaborates across different disciplines, positive benefits through the improved productivity of the team, the consolidation of design tools thanks to Figma’s awesome features which could help save the company money, and other ways this can help the organization.

I have experience moving design teams to use different tools at various companies I have worked at so I have some thoughts here. At Google I moved our team from Adobe Illustrator to Sketch. At Sunrun I moved our team from Sketch to Figma. At Pivotal I moved our team from Sketch to Figma so I have some experience on how to handle the situation my student asked me about. The following is what I would do to help this company adopt a new design tool.

Note: I am only speaking about how I helped my direct product teams move to different tools, some of the companies I worked at have several design teams which I had no direct impact on what other tools teams used.

Getting buy-in from the designers

Since this design tool would be primarily used by the designers, I would first demo the tool to other designers and explain how this tool can help them.

What I would do is pick your favorite and most used features and demo to the team on how you utilize Figma in your design work. I would also prepare and share a list of features you typically don’t use because these features might be utilized by other designers on your team.