I believe culture can be designed by rewarding behavior that reinforces our values, intentional hiring, and clear performance management.
Making things that meet high quality standards requires learned skills applied in a repeatable process.
Design is a business function built on creativity. The acts of research, ideation, and delivery are used to make an impact.
Good product design is good storytelling. I believe in using story structure as a rubric for evaluating design work. There is a classic story writing tool called the Story Spine that can be very useful to designers:
Once upon a time there was ,
Every day ,
One day ,
Because of that ,
Because of that ,
Until finally ,
And ever since that day .
An effective design depends on character development, conflict, and resolution; just like a compelling story. We need to understand our users (characters), frame their problems with evidence (development), ideate broadly on solutions (resolve conflict), and prove those solutions through testing (resolution).
Once upon a time there was User,
Every day User Story,
One day Problem Discovery,
Because of that JTBD,
Because of that Solutions,
Until finally Solution Validation,
And ever since that day Outcomes.
The true value of the Story Spine is unlocked when you use it in tandem with other design processes. There are many wonderful design frameworks to guide the design process such as the Double Diamond, Honeycomb, or The Loop™. These frameworks help designers navigate from ambiguity to clarity through a prescribed sequence of activities. There are more similarities than differences between them.
Many musicians will tell you that the loudest note in music is the rest note. Fine artists step back and squint their eyes. Athletes build recovery into their training. These moments of inaction provide intentional contrast to their respective processes. I've always thought design frameworks could assist designers more with the critical thinking that happens at junctures between each phase. The Story Spine provides a rubric for evaluating the continuity and efficacy of the work at each of these steps.
As a design leader, I focus on bringing together the right people at these inflection points to collaborate on making sure the narrative of the design makes sense. If the story makes sense, the design invariably follows.