Building a design competency

Designing the journey to becoming a design infused organisation.

In order to begin crafting a roadmap to build a businesses design competency from the ground up, we embarked on a deep dive into the businesses current mindset, maturity level and readiness for UX. Thereafter collectively mapping out a path to ensure that we reach a high level of design maturity.

Typically, we found, like many, this businesses had been faced with a storm of challenges, but the good news being that these were not particularly unique. Many businesses we help with similar initiatives and teams face these same pressures: no design standards or templates, lack of consistency and guidance, a tendency to continue doing things the way they have always been done even if flawed, problem solving based on assumptions, hasty decision making, skills shortage, pressures on time and quality, and more!

The good news: there had been efforts to address these challenges with the likes of agile, customer journey mapping and even cross-skilling at play. All with varied amount of success.

To continue the journey to get things even better, design could offer valuable contribution. It became clear that introducing a design led approach was what was missing from business thinking.

To get there, we crafted a journey to reach higher stages of design maturity. Establishing a view of where the business was currently at (through a design maturity assessment), we looked at where they should be headed and devised the path to becoming a UX mature organisation. This included these key elements:

  • Actions to take to get to each stage

  • Practical and doable steps with deadlines that could be assigned to each

  • Broken down into bite size chunks for each stage of maturity

  • Including a continuous improvement strategy for the team

The starting point? We joined forces and brought business expertise together with our design expertise to build and execute the design way forward. A co-created a way forward.

The way we started off is the same as what you do when you face anything new:

the first takers within this massive corporation were a small sub-sector: your innovators and early adopters - only a small percentage that believe and drive it. And that’s where we focussed our efforts. Planned efforts to naturally gain momentum and grow - thus increasing UX Maturity levels over time.

Our efforts included building and structuring for a design Center of Excellence to build the foundation for design (governance, standards, templates, processes. Research base. Evangelism & awareness. Communication strategy. Training, on the job coaching.) in addition to developing executional UX teams to contribute to business as usual and project based work.

Importantly, the vision remains to get the business to a place that is self-sustainable in terms of design. This means at first the CoE will have a large role to play in driving the UX strategy and all that goes with it. Over time as this is put into place and becomes ingrained into the way they work, the CoE role, although still important in terms of management of standards and keeping up to date with design trends, starts to play less of a role and we move into a space where design is ingrained into business as usual.

Key to the CoE is to continuously measure and track progress through regular maturity assessments.

The outcome? Creation of an ecosystem that helps delivery teams with standards, templates, processes, etc so that those using it (that’s us, the users of these products) have the same consistency and seamless experience across the different products throughout the business.