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3 Strategies for Building Design Culture Where You Work

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Designers may have a role in your organization, but are they effective? A mature design culture means that they are empowered and engaged to do their best work–they’ll have confidence their input is valued and respected in the context of their team. Here are a few strategies to help you maximize the power of a healthy design culture.  

1. Seek Out Empathy 

While every business would like to stand behind a statement of being “user-centered”, “customer obsessed”, or another similar catchphrase, the principle behind being empathetic is one that makes a difference for a design-minded culture. 

Great UX design is founded upon having a clear connection between designers and users. Empathy–the capacity to deeply recognize the emotions of others–is critical in the process of design and also for companies that seek to provide lasting value for their customers. 

However, just mentioning the word “empathy” isn't enough to change an organization’s culture. By actively using the products you build, and going out to meet your users where they are, you can develop a deeper understanding of the problems you are trying to solve. 

2. Encourage Shared Learning 

Not all designers are alike. Creative folks come from a variety of backgrounds and must develop a mindset that prioritizes collaboration and is dedicated to improving skills. By promoting a culture that is committed to sharing knowledge and passion–be it illustration, photography, typography. or any other creative outlet–you can help build a stronger team whose members are willing to be open and transparent about their work while refreshing or exploring new skills.

3. Elevate Design Leadership 

In an effective design culture, design leadership is given a role in shaping a company’s strategy and direction. This creates an atmosphere where the impact of design is acknowledged as being meaningful and critical to a business’ success. 

Design leaders raise the importance of design as a core part of the process of a product’s development. They help clarify the role of designers in any other team in the organization to one that is on equal footing with other functions, such as engineering, marketing, etc. This counters the common misconception that designers are solely concerned with surface level changes at the end of a process. 

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