Happy Holidays, and wishing an abundance of peace, love and joy to all.
Lockwood Resource is retained to fill a Director of UX Design position in the Northeast, and to fill an Industrial Design Manager position in the Midwest.
Here is a challenging thought – I’d argue that the greatest obstacle to great design is corporate culture. Therefore, if one understands corporate culture, one could in theory and practice create and deliver much better design.
This is a very powerful concept. Several years ago I began collaborating with Edgar Papke, who is a well respected organization leadership psychologist and expert in OD and corporate culture. Much of this post is referenced from my work with Edgar, and his book True Alignment.
It’s very difficult to change corporate culture, but you can change design and design processes to best align with corporate culture.
What is corporate culture?
In lay person terms, culture is how decisions are made. Culture guides how we behave, how we work with one another, and how we get things done. Culture guides and influences how each member acts and expresses his or her motivations and desires, and defines acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Therefore, culture drives how we work. In total, these behaviors become cultural norms.
Every company, team and group has a unique culture. So the trick for design and innovation leaders is to recognize this, and align your design team culture to the prevailing corporate culture. Here’s how:
First, recognize that there are three kinds of corporate culture, and their sub-cultures.
1. Expertise-oriented cultures
These companies are about “me”, and rely on individual expertise and competency to get things done. They typically rely on top-down decision making, because the leaders are about “me” too. Also referred to as Achievement-oriented cultures, these stem from our human needs for attention, competency and acceptance. The characteristics of Expertise-oriented cultures include:
- Conceptualize new directions & new concepts
- Leverage expertise and ranking
- Set high standards
- Challenge others & push the limits
- Emphasize what’s possible
- Seek innovation
- Utilize individual incentives
- Push for the optimal solution
- Motivated by competency & control
Some examples of companies with Expertise-oriented cultures include McKinsey, Microsoft, Nike, BMW, GE, P&G, Samsung, Wal-Mart, Ikea and Apple. Imagine, Apply gets away with calling their in-store repair centers a “Genius Bar”; that’s as blatant as it gets at being expertise-oriented. In these companies, individual contributors often have great influence.
If you are presenting design in an Expertise-oriented culture, here’s what you do:
– Leverage individual competency
– Stress how the design is expertise based
– Support outsourced design to experts, and ad-hoc teaming
– Support analytical processes
– Challenge for better and best
– Spur competition amongst design team, or between internal and external
– Reward conceptual thinking
– Leverage status and high achievement
2. Participation-oriented cultures
The Participation-culture orientation is about “we”; it thrives on teams, cross-function work, collaborative problem solving, group decision making, and group involvement in hiring because interpersonal fit is most important. Conflict is often managed collaboratively, and when a leader needs to make a decision or take action, they will typically ask for the teams input. It’s more about the family of the business, and is also referred to as an Inclusion-oriented cultures. The motivation is our human needs for inclusion, importance & significance. The characteristics of these cultures includes:
- Collaborative focus
- Close partnerships
- May have positions of Integrators, Conflict Managers, and Facilitators
- Consensus builders
- Use power of relationships
- Group oriented
- Value working together
Think of companies like Harley-Davidson, Lands’ End and The Walt Disney Company. At Disney, all VP’s are required to work in a customer facing role one day a month. Once I was on a Disney resort and my daughter got sick, so the hotel offered to take us to a doctor. The driver seemed quite knowledgeable, as I asked more questions it turned out the driver was a VP who just chose to be a driver that day; that’s a commitment to participation with customers!
Here’s how to align design in Inclusion-oriented cultures:
– Leverage participation & involvement
– Cross-functional teaming
– Support group processes
– Focus on shared rewards
– Customer focus and partnering
– Reward team accountability & contribution
– Leverage involvement
3. Authenticity-oriented cultures
The Authenticity-oriented culture is all about purpose. These companies are values-driven, caring, purpose-centered and optimistic. It’s about “we care”. What really matters is what the company stands for, and that’s the draw for employment. This orientation links to our human needs to feel accepted, to be caring, our physical wellbeing and our personal actualization. Some of the characteristics include:
- Development of self and others
- Catalyst for possibilities
- Stewards of purpose and values
- Commitment builders
- Helping others succeed and grow
- Appeal to higher-Ideal and vision
- Motivated by admiration and affection
Think of companies like Starbucks, The Body Shop, Celestial Seasonings, Blue Diamond Almonds and Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods, a natural grocery chain, doesn’t have any wayfinding signage regarding the isles. The reason being, when a customer asks for guidance, employees stop what they are doing and personally escort you to the proper isle and location, and even discuss the options with you. It’s not so efficient, but what matters is that the customer is being cared for, and the employees are providing care.
How to align design in Authenticity-oriented cultures:
– Leverage personal and group empowerment & self-actualization
– Reinforce the higher ideal
– Explore the intuitive
– Trust in the organic process
– Emotion and meaning matter
– Focus on openness and trust
– Let people play and be creative
I know designers love being different, me too, but if you can understand corporate culture, you can be more strategic in creating and presenting your design, UX and innovation projects, and be more likely to get them thru the system intact. What better way to realize your creative vision?
What kind of corporate culture do you work in? How are you aligned to culture?Change management, Corporate culture, Design leadership, Design organization, Design-led innovation, Innovation culture, UX culture
Let’s face it, every business must innovate for the future, and innovation requires creativity. Not just creativity, but appropriately focused and managed creativity. But this kind of creativity doesn’t just pop up on demand, and you can’t just click on it; it takes savvy Design, UX and Innovation leaders that know how to nurture and harvest the creativity of individuals, teams and entire organizations.
Which raises an interesting challenge – how does one attract and recruit these savvy creative leaders? The reality is that top creative people are waiting for your email or phone call. But if you approach recruitment like a design challenge, you may improve your results.
We’ve developed and refined a unique recruitment process which yields exceptional results. We’ve combined the principles of user-centered design, service design, and performance-based interviewing to create this approach, and we’ve used it successfully with major companies in the US and Europe to recruit top creative leadership talent. Here’s how it works:
1. Deep knowledge of the design functions
All too many times candidates are approached by generalist recruiters who know very little about design leadership, and nothing is a bigger turn off. To know your target candidate is to know the job function, and to know the job function is to either have been in that role yourself, or to have deep contextual knowledge and empathy of the function. The problem is that unique roles like Design, UX and Innovation leadership are nuanced and difficult to learn; it actually takes one to know one. That’s why we think hiring manages need to lean into recruitment more actively, rather than hoping their HR team will eventually get it. Hiring managers already have the category and tacit knowledge, and should leverage this in sourcing and recruiting, not just in interviewing.
2. Process based on service design methods
The most effective recruitment process is one that accommodates the client journey and the candidate journey. To many times recruiters and hiring managers fail the recognize the importance of the candidate journey, and to many times this leaves a bad experience about the brand. Great recruitment requires a collaboration that builds the employment brand, engages all stakeholders, and creates great experiences.
We recommend rolling out search projects in two general stages; a Research phase and an Insight phase.
3. The Research Phase
The first step of the research phase is to Orient with the hiring manager(s). We’ve developed a Contextual Position Brief to guide our kick off meetings, which helps us frame the position, context and culture – the tangibles and intangibles. Like a good design brief, this tool helps to clarify and set clear expectations, in order to target candidates and present the position most accurately. Review the contextual position brief with the hiring team, and then develop a profile and persona of the ideal candidate. All these tools stem from design management principles, and help get everyone involved in the hiring process on the same page at the outset.
Next, develop a research plan to generate names of sources and prospective candidates. Begin by determining where this ideal candidate may be currently working, and also identify competitors and any off-limits companies. Identify potential candidates and sources by tapping into your database, and consult with your network. Use research methods to generate comprehensive lists of targets; we use tools like Hoovers, Spoke, Zoom, Namz, LinkedIn Recruiter, SourcePoint and advanced Boolean, among others. Review and prioritize the prospect lists with the hiring team.
4. The Insight Phase
Next begin reaching out to potential candidates – goals being to screen as well as pique interest and spread the word. Remember every prospect may not be a candidate, but they may be a source of information. We recommend collaborating with your sources to seek passive candidates, and proactively reach out via phone and online. Emails and LinkedIn InMails have the lowest response rates, so this must be augmented with personal phone calls, which is where the credibility of the recruiter can pay great dividends. Finding, contacting and piquing interest of passive candidates is an art onto itself, and having deep industry experience and an expert reputation is truly a door opener.
In the Discover phase, move from piquing interest and screening and to first-round interviewing. We have developed a variety of unique tools for this phase, including a Litmus Test, Performance-Based interview techniques and even oddball questions, coupled with our direct experience in design, UX and inno leadership work. You’re looking for top performance that matches the position, so ask candidates to explain their two most significant accomplishments in their current job, and the one before that, and before that, and keep asking questions like “Tell me more”. The objective is to learn insights based on actual context, and learn enough to either cut prospects, or move them to another conversation.
Continue the interview process repeatedly through the Synthesize phase, in order to present a shortlist of the most qualified and interested candidates that meet the profile, persona, functional requirements, performance objectives and cultural fit, and are a good career move for the candidate. Selecting from a shortlist of a vetted, qualified and interested candidates reduces risk and helps ensure more efficient and successful hiring.
5. Start slow, then finish fast
Just like creating a great design brief, it always pays to start slow so that you can finish fast. And as with every thoughtful research project, this process takes time and resources. We target 45 days from the start of a search to delivering the first set of vetted, qualified and interested finalist candidates, and 15 more days to deliver a second shortlist of finalist candidates. Project completion depends on the clients speed in interviewing, decision making and closing the candidate.
And remember, top candidates are fluid, things are always changing, and they may or may not be as interested in your position in the future. So be prepared to act fast when you know you have the right person. We’ve seen some great candidates slip away because clients did not make timely decisions. But as they say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Recruiting the best creative talent is challenging indeed. It requires a unique blend of insight, functional knowledge, empathy, smart tools, savvy assessments and hard work. Design, UX and Innovation is hot, no doubt, and there are a lot of posers out there – this approach may help you recruit the very best.Creative assessment, Creative interviews, Design leadership, Design recruiting, Innovation recruiting, Sourcing, UX recruiting
By Lavrans Lovlie.
Why business cases cost organisations billions.
Most organisations assure the viability of an initiative by building a business case that has to meet certain targets, such as return on investment (ROI), or an industry specific measure such as average revenue per user (ARPU). Ultimately, a business case is supposed to offer management a rationale for committing resources to a project.
Unfortunately, businesses have a graveyard of unsuccessful projects and initiatives that have cost hundreds of millions but failed to deliver, even though the business case was accepted. Often the business case is massaged, negotiated and adjusted internally to reach management acceptance, failing to test the assumptions in the market and with customers.
Example: A global brand had a solid business case for upgrading core IT systems which was based on one billion of additional revenue. Since this programme only touched internal operational systems, customers would not experience a better service. Where would any significant increase of sales come from?
Build pilots to demonstrate and convince.
Service pilots create a confidence in success that neither design nor business cases can do on their own. They merge design skill with business analysis in a way that produces effects beyond both approaches.
Pilots accelerate learning.
When you trial services in a real-life situation, you gain insights that are simply unachievable on the drawing board or in a spread sheet. When you move from theory to practice you will gain insights and (dis-) prove assumptions from day one. Pilots can be adjusted and changed in rapid iterations, and helps the organisation learn quickly from the behaviour of customers, staff and systems.
Example: In testing a new service members of staff from different departments as well as consultants and trainers performed the same front line roles. Because of the diverse background and level of experience of the people servicing the customers, the organisation very quickly learned the best ways of interacting and supporting the customer. This informed frontline staff behaviours and policies even beyond the scope of the new service.
Pilots enable true customer involvement.
When you ask them, customers will say one thing and do something else. The same goes for staff. When you run a real service at small scale, you can observe actual behaviour, see the results and engage with customers and staff about their experience. Pilots enable customer involvement beyond voicing their opinions through surveys, observations and workshops. They let you both understand and measure what really means something in the everyday life of customers and staff.
Example: The bank with its financial tool for households found out after launch that even though customer really liked the idea, they were not interested in changing their behaviour and use the application to take control of their finances. Piloting with real life customers instead of controlled groups would have exposed the human tendency towards socially desired responses to topics such as financial responsibility. People would like to think of themselves as taking charge, but in reality they didn’t care enough to sit down and work it through.
Pilots engage and energise the organisation.
Pilots need to be run by the people who ultimately will deliver the service, not by consultants. This engages staff, from the top to the bottom, in making service better for themselves and for customers in hands-on ways. Pilots inspire because they shift the focus from performance in daily routines, to asking ‘how can we do this better?’ Pilots breed a culture for continual improvement.
Example: In one pilot, sales agents were given lightweight, easy-to-use tools to support quick and extremely customer-friendly instructions to customers. During the pilot, an internal competition grew between agents as to who was the best at servicing the customers. The pilot tools, through their immediate feedback, for the first time gave agents meaningful feedback on their performance and, since the results were public, it motivated the agents in ways incentive schemes had not.
Pilots can fail.
Setting up a pilot for it to work for customers and staff means it will most likely be successful. Designing a pilot to learn with the customer and staff might actually mean failure in terms of business objective. Understanding why something does not work is sometimes more valuable than seeing how something can work.
Example: When piloting a new online-offline service concept to support new customers, the project team faced significant internal resistance from several departments. The pilots failed to make any impact on customers and were discontinued under heavy political pressure. However, through the pilots, a painful process flaw was exposed in the running of the existing service. This enabled the organisation to improve its current online and offline services significantly by eliminating the redundant process.
Pilots help identify real economic value. If you design them with the business.
Pilots allow you to test, validate and adjust the business case to actual numbers. When pilots are designed to align closely with business goals, they provide the data needed to model the economic performance of the service when scaled up. This means that numbers can be compared to historical data and business forecasts. Pilots build a body of evidence that enables confident decisions.
Changing the call script for an insurance call centre enabled agents to show more empathy and offer a better service to customers. The data analysis revealed that even though the experience of these customers was significantly better, it did not contribute to the organisation’s bottom line due to the limited number of customers who were impacted.
Pilots will tell you more than the business case.
A business case will describe a model for the financial value of a service. By definition, a model can’t incorporate the complexity that businesses and customers experience on a daily basis. Pilots allow organisations to identify crucial gaps in the model, and highlight opportunities that were not obvious at first sight. Pilots turn economic theory into hard evidence.
In a retail pilot, customers were offered a service that would enable them to walk out of a mobile phone shop with a fully functioning phone with all their settings and content transferred from the old one. The pilot proved the willingness to pay for the service was very high, which means it had the potential for commercial success. However, the pilot also revealed the tremendous pull this service had on attracting new customers. This had greater economic value and supported a more interesting business case.
If you think pilots are expensive, try failure.
In an interesting paradox of corporate behaviour, managers are willing to invest hundreds of millions to bring a new service to market, without properly testing it in real-life situations first. Unfortunately, the cost of both fundamental issues about the proposition and small irritations in interactions will multiply when a service is launched and scaled.
Bringing new services to market demands a lot of any organisation, and rightly so, as the risks are significant. Managers both need to be convinced and they need evidence that their efforts will bring success. Pilots create both and, more importantly, they allow businesses to test, learn and refine their ideas in a real-world context that involves customers and staff.
Pilots also unite the skills of business consulting with design skill, to produce results that impact beyond both. Service designers have the skill to imagine experiences that make sense to customers and build, run and iterate service pilots. In addition, designers have the skill to design stories that convince managers and staff. Pilots built on solid business logic enable organisations to detail new service propositions based on evidence.
If you want your idea to become a successful reality for customers and for the business, pilot it to make sure it makes sense. More detailed information can be found at Livework.Customer experience, Service design
Thomas Lockwood will run his workshop “Building Great Design Organizations” for DMI, the non-profit Design Management Institute, on November 1-2 in New York City. Registration and more info here via DMI.org
Fast Company recently asked me – What makes a great UX design leader? Here is my response –
Seven key traits the best UX design leaders share.
The job market for user experience designers is booming, and academic programs at companies like Google have sprung up to meet demand. Missing from most discussions about the UX design education gap is the need for great UX design leaders. These are senior-level managers who not only understand the nuts and bolts of UX work—making things usable—but do everything in their power to help organizations, and the talent they nurture, embody a UX ethos. Here are seven key qualities the best UX design leaders share:
1. They are masters of process
UX is about making new experiences, services, and products. This requires process discipline (coupled with creativity). UX leaders can adapt to any kind of process—Agile, Sprint, Waterfall, Stage-Gate, Scrum, ISO, company-based, you name it. The best UX leaders make things happen regardless of what process they’re using.
2. They are great leaders of people
User experience involves many people, and UX leaders know how to assemble cross-functional teams, guide and inspire them, and create synergy. Great UX leaders are great people leaders—they ask more then they tell, laugh more than they criticize, have tons of empathy, and yet are straightforward in their critique and remain focused on the task at hand.
3. Front stage and backstage
Great UX leaders coordinate both front- and back-end platforms—the user-facing experience and the tech beneath it. If you don’t understand the tech, you can’t help create the best user experience.
4. They draw connections others may not see
UX leaders are connectors. They connect technology to new services and products; different functions within a company; and the company to its customers and followers. A great UX leader helps connect the company to all its stakeholders, internal and external. After all, every company touch point is an experience, and the best UX design leaders help orchestrate the best experiences.
5. They create relevance
UX leaders bring meaning to experiences and, in doing so, to the brand itself. They ask: How do the apps work? How does the customer journey progress? How does the mobile experience integrate? How well do the services perform? How does the user respond? UX is about creating relevance.
6. They are cheerleaders of usability
Great UX design leaders advocate tirelessly for usability. It might sound obvious, but it goes beyond simply making the case for a streamlined app. It’s about embedding good user experiences into every aspect of the business, from consumer-facing products to the hiring process itself.
7. They’re relentlessly focused on tomorrow
UX leaders create the future. They help take a company, and its customers, to new places, whether through apps, services, or something else entirely. Great UX design leaders help lead a company to its preferred future state.
For tips on recruiting great UX leaders, go here.
Design leadership, Design recruiting, Design-led innovation, Innovation culture, User experience, UX, UX leadership, UX recruiting
Lockwood Resource is retained to fill several Senior Industrial Designer positions for a leading consumer hard goods manufacturer in the US.
Thomas Lockwood writes about “The Anatomy of a Great UX Design Leader” for Fast Company Design.
Lockwood Resource provides design organization strategy consulting for an innovative technology start up.
Lockwood Resource completes a comprehensive design organization assessment of positions, job descriptions and career paths for a Fortune 500 corporation in the US.