What are your three top tips for bringing design org culture into a hierarchical company? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Bryan Walker, Partner and Managing Director, IDEO San Francisco, on Quora:

A few things I'd recommend to introduce a design mindset to a hierarchical organization:

  1. Use design to help mobilize people around a shared purpose. If you want your employees to think more like designers, you need to tap into the collective aspirations of the people around you. To borrow from Simon Sinek, start with the 'why'. Ask your team(s), "Why does this organization exist?" This is a great way to elevate the conversation above the internal politics and ground people in a shared purpose.
  2. Start small. We often want to change things overnight. A vision for the future is burning inside of us. But at a large scale, immediate changes can backfire. And if you don't have the authority to make broad sweeping changes, it's important to start small and gain momentum, focusing on the things that are within your control and influence. Start with your team. Design rituals--intentional moments where you attempt to bridge the gap between what your organization believes and how it's behaving.
  3. Co-opt co-conspirators. Look for opportunities to include those with formal authority into the creation process of change and your ultimate vision. This means asking them questions and seeking advice, not trying to sell them on a proposed solution. People will typically support what they create.
  4. Create a beacon. To get people on board, you're going to need some quick wins. We talk about beacons as a tangible manifestation of the future change you wish to see. It's important that your beacon projects are not just prototypes, but real live projects out in the world, even if they're very small. People need to see proof that change is possible, and then they'll be much more likely to come on board.

Source: Designing for Change

Bringing a designer's mindset to larger organizations can be an uphill battle, but it's not impossible. At IDEO, we've seen successes at Dr Reddy's--a pharmaceutical company in India--and La Victoria Lab--an innovation lab that we helped Peruvian conglomerate Intercorp launch to scale design thinking to its 33 companies.

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Published on: Nov 3, 2017