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Episode #111 Kim Goodwin’s "Getting Design Into the Corporate DNA" UI15 Session Sample

January 11, 2011  ·  12 minutes

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Design has made a lot of progress in the corporate landscape over the past decade, but many designers still find themselves justifying their existence on a fairly regular basis. In Kim Goodwin’s talk, “Getting Design Into the Corporate DNA” from the 2010 User Interface Conference, she explains that it’s a matter of changing the culture of your organization.

Show Notes

Design has made a lot of progress in the corporate landscape over the past decade, but many designers still find themselves justifying their existence on a fairly regular basis. Most companies, even those who claim to value design, aren’t taking full advantage of what design can offer them.

In Kim Goodwin’s talk, “Getting Design Into the Corporate DNA” from the 2010 User Interface Conference, she explains that it’s a matter of changing the culture of your organization. Kim understands that this is one of the most complex design problems you will ever have to face, but she can also tell you how to set it in motion.

One of the issues, as Kim points out, is that most businesses have a unit efficiency focus. This causes people to look inward and not share responsibility. It ends up promoting a lack of cooperation as turf wars develop and people begin competing for resources to ensure that their unit, department, or team is doing well rather than the company as a whole. This creates silos within the organization.

The alternative is a user-centered focus, but getting to that point isn’t easy. Kim concedes, shifting the way the entire company thinks is a daunting prospect. But she offers that organizational change is actually, in fact, individual change. She says to think of organizational change like moving a series of pebbles and boulders instead of the entire mountain. The organization is made up of individuals and shifting the organization is a matter of moving those individuals.

But it could be even more attainable than that. As Kim says, “Think about starting an avalanche. If you roll the right rock down the hill, it’s going to start taking others with it. You don’t personally have to touch every rock.” She encourages you to seek out the most influential “rocks” in your organization.

In order to bring change about, you need to be persuasive. Kim mentions that one of the greatest tools of persuasion is the users. She says that getting executives in front of users more often is one of the best ways to get them to begin to think differently about design. The more user exposure that you can get the more they will see the benefit of the design process.

You can also look for teachable moments. By that she means, look for a way to convey any unhappiness or dissatisfaction that your users may have. Then show how design can help improve the problem and give a clear way from Point A to Point B. In the end, it’s human nature to view change as loss. Exhibiting how design can improve things will help alleviate that sense of loss.

The audio to Kim’s full talk is available for purchase with all seven other Featured Talks from the conference as part of UI15 OnDemand. Also included are the handouts and presentation slides from the talks as well as the slides from the each presenters’ full day workshop. Get more information or place your order for UI15 OnDemand.

Have you experienced difficulty illustrating design's value in your organization? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.