Scale Design — Empowering design team for scale

Design and design thinking is hot right now. In recent past , new and traditional enterprise have swallowed up a long list of design agencies. Facebook acquire teehan/plus and Accenture acquired Fjord, IBM grew its internal design team to over 100 staff. It seems there has never been a better time to be a designer.

But, buying a design agency or hiring in a design team doesn’t immediately change years of cultural habits around product/service industry.Holistic change in companies use designer is hard.

The most important challenge we face is how we make design truly count.You could have the best design team in the world , but if your company does’t truly value design, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t have that right from day one, everything else you do to make your design team successful can just be wasted effort.

Design is not a magical switch that get turned on inside a company. It’s a conscious effort supported by top management team to make design matter within organisation.

Codifying Design

One of the biggest change require by organisation is how to codified design and design thinking across the organization. Create a culture of sharing ,learning and collaborating make things differently.As a designer, I believe on below step to make awareness within team with individual capacity.

1) Start designing simple communication tools and sending them across to people. For instance do a fun info graphics to show difference between UI and UX that can be emailed or printed and put on the wall at your office. Do many such things so that it slowly over time syncs in peoples heads.

2) If and when you get an opportunity, run a parallel design exercise on a live project (even if it is for a small part of the project). One with proper UX process, one without. Show the results to people. Typically when people have something to compare they understand it better. And to managers, result speaks louder than process.

3) Hold informal sessions on UI and UX matters

4) Convince stakeholder who’s opinion matters.Provide rationale behind your propose design.

5) Tweak these strategies and come up with new ones looking at results.

6) Finally you will have to make a lot of extra efforts and be patient for change to happen.

Quite often , Non-design disciplines see the design process as a black-box. By codifying framework and sharing them , we aimed to debunk those black box myths. We wanted to show teams where they were going , before we took them there.This creates a much more open and collaborative environment to be creative in.This provides simple step-by-step guides for how to run workshops and meetings.It means that anyone , regardless of their discipline, can understand how to run a creative session. It makes our design process inclusive.Educational boot camps help train staff on how to run and use these different plays throughout the product/service development life cycle.


Building up the right level of customer empathy throughout all product development discipline was also vital to our success.For scale design practices, we need to create more empathy across other disciplines for all end customer.Here are few practice make things in a better way.

a) Bring our core development team(mainly product manager,engineers) bring forward to discuss with customer

b) Create a set of persona cards and put them in every meeting room.

c) In-product feedback from end customer , which has sharable with project stakeholder

d) Create usablity testing lab in-house and allowed anyone to watch the session live via video conference.

All of these activities were to help get everyone who builds product closer to our customer.This helped team shift to a much more experience-driven approach to everything we build

I love this Julie Zhuo quote “ If you don’t want design to be treated as a service, you need to have an opinion about problem are worth solving and why” And it’s very true.But the organization must also actually value that opinion and make it an integral part of the product/service development process if you want to truly scale design.