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Design—Organization before the product

Design education should include studying organization behavior or even organization redesign too.

A recent report by McKinsey says that design alone as a function cannot always make a positive impact on the organization for its goals. The report—Redesigning the design department shares some numbers which show that many bigger design teams also fail to capitalize on the design culture and design maturity for the business goals.

The McKinsey team looked at the data from three million designers and design leaders in more than 100,000 design departments, combined with their organizations’ financial performance.

The first theme was cross-functional organizational structure. This closely maps with what I wrote recently that design is secondary in design-driven organization. In such organizations, it is not only the design but it is their collective intelligence that takes the organization’s mission and the product vision forward.

Designers need to lead the organizations, or at least designers need to sit with the business operations, with the revenue department, with the sales teams, and they should understand the unit economics of how their work (in design) actually sells.

Airbnb is a perfect example to show how it works because they work on design roadmaps and not product roadmaps. The entire organization has only one roadmap and that is design roadmap.

If an organization does not support this kind of design leadership, it is the job of design leaders to propose redesigning the organization itself. “Exposure of design team to non-design capabilities drives performance, especially true for marketing, sales, and strategy skills.” You can see and download the McKinsey report here.

This is another reason why I say that design education should include studying organization behavior or organization redesign too. For design to scale and make a longer impact in the organization as a system, some redesign might be required in the organization itself, somewhere, some day. Design can lead or contribute to this organization redesign.

Vinish Garg

Vinish Garg

I am Vinish Garg, and I work with growing product teams for their product strategy, product vision, product positioning, product onboarding and UX, and product growth. I work on products for UX and design leadership roles, product content strategy and content design, and for the brand narrative strategy. I offer training via my advanced courses for content strategists, content designers, UX Writers, content-driven UX designers, and for content and design practitioners who want to explore product and system thinking.

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Vinish Garg is an independent consultant in product content strategy, content design leadership, and product management for growing product teams.