Defining Design Culture @Neslo
By Thandie M
What is Design Culture?
This is not an easy phrase to define, and it’s misunderstood by many. Design Culture is more than an artistic craft; It’s a strategic tool for achieving business objectives.
“Design Culture is about rediscovering the human side of business.” — Jordan Koschei
A design Culture is a vehicle to rediscover the human side of your business. Every person is special and deserves the freedom to discover who they are and what they bring to the organisations they work so hard for. In a true design culture, the whole team — including and especially non-designers — understands that design is a holistic and process-driven discipline that should be integrated throughout the organisation.
Developing Design Culture
Design Culture journey starts by defining your organisation as if it is a person honouring their unique beliefs and persona. Only then can companies ensure that their environment incorporates the right elements and people such that living their core values is effortless. Implementing Design Culture can help your company both survive and thrive.
There is no hierarchy in a design organisation, there is no “design department” or “development department”; instead, Neslo is made up of product teams: flexible groups of designers and developers who are tasked with solving a problem. In a healthy design culture, everyone in the organisation should feel empowered to participate in the design process. And everyone should be encouraged to apply design thinking to problems that aren’t obviously design-related.
Product teams collaborate throughout the day to design and implement software solutions. Rather than creating some comps and “throwing them over the wall” to a development team, designers work in sync with teammates, getting valuable input from people whose perspective differs from theirs, and constant feedback about feasibility and impact of the work produced.
Room for growth, learning
Working in product teams creates a shared sense of purpose and daily opportunities for teaching and learning.At Neslo there is always something to learn and something to teach, which means we are constantly innovating on our processes and iterating and growing on ourselves. In practice, if this means that if one of us has an idea for something to try, either as part of a project, or something that will grow the company, and a well-reasoned rationale for doing it, then it’s pretty much open season.
Design culture focuses on constructing a flexible environment with breakout spaces that help stimulate creativity. The office environment should also provide employees with a space to do something that is not directly related to work. Allowing employees to entirely “break away” from their work is crucial. This could include office features such as: a pool table, Ping-Pong table or nap area, where an employee’s imagination can thrive.
Many organisations get caught up in the complexities of doing business in the modern world, forgetting that happy and purposeful teams are a necessary breath of fresh air. We become more human when we practice Design Culture. We increase our capacity for empathy, identity, and connection. When we commit to this mindset, we restore our humanity and organisation to a happier and better place.