Chapter 8. Creating a Design Culture

CORPORATE CULTURE IS AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT SUBJECT WITHIN MANAGEMENT CIRCLES, as evidenced by its coverage in business magazines and websites (“Organizational Culture” is among the most popular topics at, and how some companies are rebranding HR as “People and Culture.” Much of this focus on culture stems from a reaction to millennials now being the largest generation in the workforce,[22] and the perception that millennials have a different approach to work than their predecessors, with greater expectation for connection and meaning in the workplace, and less of a focus on simply getting paid. Too often, culture is interpreted superficially, but it’s no longer enough to offer free lunches, onsite laundry services, or foosball. Considering people spend 90,000 hours at work over the course of their careers,[23] it makes sense for them to seek employment that is fulfilling.

When design leaders address matters of corporate culture, it is typically from the perspective of shifting a company’s culture in order to embrace design. Before that happens, we implore: Design leader, heal thyself. Design’s inability to have meaningful organizational impact is often the result of an unintentional or polluted team culture. Before attempting broad, company-wide change, make sure the design team’s culture has been purposefully constructed to encourage the best work.

The Elements of Culture

It’s one thing to have a vision for a culture. It’s another ...

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