Culture: A Design Warranty?
Too many companies believe that their culture can be shaped (or a bad culture can be corrected) by building a shiny new product. Intranets will fix poor morale. Mobile apps will improve customer engagement. Right? Lol.
Human-centered design and culture making are two very different things. Designers create technologies that humans want to use. It’s unrealistic and unfair to assume that designers are solely responsible for changing the culture of an organization, too. Tools, products, applications, processes, etc. contribute to how a company does something, but they don’t prescribe who a company is. That’s culture. And culture is shaped by the thoughts, behaviors and works of people.
Design has the potential to profoundly impact an organization, but it doesn’t come with a warranty that guarantees culture change without a company’s leadership and employees doing the heavy lifting first.
So, how can companies better bridge the gap between design and its influence on culture? There’s three places to start:
- Have the guts to rip off the red tape. A lot of companies are held together with red tape. For design to thrive, it has to go. Get rid of it.
- Practice what you preach. Companies that have the most success using design to change their culture understand they must be willing to fully invest in the process and adopt the outcome(s), even if that means changing habits, processes, ideas, etc.
- Tools ≠ People. Design can help companies better engage with their employees and customers, but it can’t replace personal relationships. Culture is shared through and by people.
Take a Bite is a series written by Heather that delivers bite-sized ramblings about all things UX, design and the like.