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Design survives and thrives in spite of the culture

Culture is more of the sentiment that shows up in the moments.

We often see product and design conversations where experts talk about the design culture or design-driven culture (a Mckinsey story) in an organization. I have talked about it, often advocating design culture in one form or the other, including in my conference—Outcome.

Vinish Garg shares an old tweet from 2018 when they used the term ‘design culture’.

In technology organizations, their culture is more of the sentiment that shows up in the moments—mostly invisible and rarely it shows some signs where it is explicitly noticeable. This is why I say that design is secondary in the design-driven organization because design is the default in their culture and so something else is more important there—more visible in their conversations.

When we use the term design culture, it means the organization culture itself or the product culture. If you think that you can elevate design practices or design standards in an organization by working on its culture, design is unlikely to respond positively.

Design does not depend on the culture. Design survives and thrives in spite of the culture.

Vinish Garg tweets about design culture.

Design comes back to us—as individuals, as the team, and as an organization. The notion of design culture gives us a sense of feeling-good-and-safe that it is easier to work in such organizations. However we must remember that a designer will design the same sign up form regardless of the culture and if you have an argument that design culture might help them design the same form better for usability or the validation, then it is not the design culture at play—it is the people culture.

Design is independent of the culture.

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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.

Interested to stay informed about my work, talks, writings, programs, or projects? See a few examples of my past newsletters—All things products, Food for design, Inviting for 8Knorks. You can subscribe to my emails here.

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