Measuring Design Thinking on the Level of a Culture Change Initiative or Program

How do we know if our »culture change by design« program is creating the desired change in thinking and behavior?

At this level, it is getting tricky. We observed in the past years that many ‘design thinking’ initiatives were actually transformation programs with the intention to change culture by introducing the principles of DT into the ways of working of the wider organization. On the one hand, we welcome such cultural interventions driven by design (thinking). On the other hand, we observed that change-inexperienced teams without much design expertise could only burn their fingers on something like this. It is the level where the most obstacles will be put in your way by the organization. Also, you cannot just apply the methods from product/service design thinking to challenges of this (higher) order. Thus such programs need to be (co)run by experienced change and design professionals bringing their more sophisticated repertoire of interventions. Such programs require sound financing and top executive buy-in too. Only then are they likely to become success stories like Intuit, IBM, or GOV.UK.

Here is a selection of example metrics on how one could measure at this level:

People Activity Metrics
  • CEOs / decision-makers available calendar time for innovation
  • # of people who have heard about design thinking
  • # of people who received a training in design thinking
  • # of people who regularly practice design thinking in their daily work, in product teams, or in recurring project work
  • # of products/services built using design thinking
  • Ratio of designerly job roles to other job roles (e.g. UX Designer, Design Researcher, etc.)
  • Improved internal collaboration and  knowledge sharing
  • etc.
Organizational Output Metrics
  • Large scale changes in thinking and behavior of training/program participants and other people in the organization, e.g. via Psychological Safety , Design Ecology 2.0 , or the metrics mentioned in the team and project levels.
  • Training/program participant satisfaction, e.g. via NPS
  • Increase in employee satisfaction and productivity
  • Easier recruiting and retaining of talent
  • etc.
Porter, M. E., & Nohria, N. (2018, July 1). What Do CEOs Actually Do? Harvard Business Review.
Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350–383.
Royalty, A., Chen, H., Roth, B., & Sheppard, S. (2019). Measuring Design Thinking Practice in Context. In C. Meinel & L. Leifer (Eds.), Design Thinking Research : Looking Further: Design Thinking Beyond Solution-Fixation (pp. 61–73). Springer International Publishing.

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