How to build a Design Culture?

Design is something that must be lived and breathed. 

Design culture means that the design is at the forefront of everything your organization does, from strategy to execution. It also means that employees, leaders, and staff all understand the value of design, using it to propel the user forward in a seamless experience.

When the design is a core value, it serves as a focal point on which all teams and stakeholders can align.

Design culture is a guiding truth and internal framework that helps any company—not just design companies—be more competitive and create better user experiences. This article will cover what a design culture is, why it’s essential, and how to create a design culture in your organization.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Says Peter Drucker.

Building a design culture inside a company is not an easy task because it’s all about relationships, interactions, and attitudes. But if we observe all the characteristics of design culture, we can find some exact methods and techniques to work with.

Why a design culture is essential outside of just design

Creating a design culture can transform your organization for the better. In 2016, Forrester Research Consulting conducted a study investigating whether or not design-led cultures gave companies a quantifiable advantage in business. They surveyed and analyzed enterprises in the U.S., the UK, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia/New Zealand, and Japan.

The results of the study illustrate just how much a strong design culture can impact an organization:

  • 70% had digital experiences that outpaced the competition.
  • 50% had more loyal users.
  • 46% had a solid overall competitive advantage.
  • 41% had a higher market share.

According to the study, a focus on design strengthens an organization from the inside out:

“In design-led firms, design permeates the organization beyond the product teams; it’s embedded in the culture. And there is always an ambition to do better. These companies support a range of skills, from more senior or strategically oriented designers to more junior or tactical designers. Teams use collaborative processes and tools to unify working groups.”

A design-driven organization tends to be more proactive than reactive, confronting the next problem or challenge instead of waiting for it to come to them. That’s because their values are built on a foundation of problem-solving through collaboration, experimentation, empathy, and user research.

How to build a design culture?

There are a few ways to build a design culture. Some organizations, including Dropbox, have a design team that floats from project to project, like an internal design consultancy. And some organizations make sure that there are designers in place across all product teams.

IDEO defines a robust design culture by five characteristics:

  • Constant curiosity. Everyone at your company is always asking questions, and you have systems to use data to help inform and answer them. IDEO defines a robust design culture by five characteristics.
  • Frequent experimentation. Employees are constantly exploring as many solutions as possible, resulting in more successful launches.
  • Cross-team collaboration. Different teams across varying verticals are comfortable working with each other. Nothing is done in a silo. Tools that encourage collaboration, like Cubyts, allow your team to collaborate on wireframes, plans, and design presentations.
  • Intentional storytelling. Instead of letting an idea die as it volleys back and forth between teams, assign it to someone who can truly own it, like a project lead, design lead, or passionate team member. Their job is to tell the story that generates momentum and excitement.
  • More ideas. Coming up with a wealth of ideas is a daily habit at your organization, allowing you to iterate and receive feedback quickly.

One thing is for sure: Your attempt at creating a design culture won’t impact your leadership doesn’t value design. The role of “Chief Design Officer” sends the message that innovation is involved in your organization’s highest-level decisions. Because when C-level executives are passionate about crafting better user experiences, they set an example that encourages everyone to care.

Use the right tools to empower your team

You don’t just arrive at the “ideal” design culture. With Cubyts, you can codify design culture to empower every aspect of your organization’s design journey. Cubyts encourages collaboration, transparency, and measure design maturity: central tenets of thriving design culture.

With Cubyts, various teams at your organization can work together seamlessly to brainstorm, plan, and measure. Book a free demo today and experience Cubyts