Don’t Try to Design a Design Culture

Design leaders often fail to truly change their company’s culture because they miss the challenge. You can’t directly design a design culture. In fact, you cannot design a culture at all.

During a well-intentioned team revamp, a group of leaders gets into a room, creates a list of company values, and unveils them with posters on the wall. Then they wait. Or, they hires an executive from Apple because they want a culture like Apple’s, and then hope the new hire will make it so. But the culture rarely catches up to Apple or to the posters. Why? Because the leaders are only setting a vision for their culture. Vision is important, but it’s also the easy part. The hard part is changing the underlying organizational system so that desired behaviors emerge on their own.

And that’s exactly what design leaders do have the power to shape: the system and the elements that constitute it. These include the physical environment, organizational structure (or lack of one), incentives, processes, tools, roles and relationships. When you focus on the parts of the system that you can actually design, you create the opportunity for a good culture to emerge.

In this talk Mia Blume will take a closer look how you can influence your culture in a lasting, sustainable way, including 7 tips she has found to be most effective for leaders growing a small startup team or improving an existing culture.

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