Creating a Legacy (panel)

Theme 4: Creating a Legacy

Theme Leader: Colette Vardeman (Executive Director of Design, USAA)

Abstract from the EUX website:
What factors ensure the growth and sustainability of enterprise UX—or indicate trouble ahead? How can we inoculate ourselves against factors that kill enterprise UX teams and practices? How do we craft a multi-decade vision for ourselves and our organization that inspires followership, and undying respect? We’ll learn from leaders who’ve been around long enough to tell great stories and teach valuable lessons of what makes or breaks an enterprise’s UX capabilities over the long haul.

Colette spoke briefly about the panel, and said that for her, this was an interesting topic for her at this point in her life.  She has a milestone birthday coming up – it has provided a reason to reflect.  There are things she can point to that she is proud of.  It has led her to ask “What are we doing every day to create conditions and culture for UX to thrive?“.  The speakers on this panel are 10-12 years into their careers at their current companies.  Listen for leadership behaviors like humility and wide eyed curiosity about problems, people, and the environments we work in.  And sheer will.  They help us persevere every day.  You will hear these themes in their stories, but not explicitly.  They have gone beyond empathy for end-users or customers, to have empathy for the people we work with.  If we can get that right, there would be no stopping us!

Stop Talking, Start Doing 

Kaaren Hanson (Design Team Leader, Facebook)

Kaaren was at Intuit for 12 years (2003-2014).  While she there she established Design for Delight principles and practices, which you will hear about today.  She will share the impact her team was able to have.

Kaaren used the preparation for this session to really reflect on what legacy means to her.

It is about having an impact that lasts.  How do I create a legacy?  That is actually the wrong question.  The most important question is to first think about the impact, and then think about how to design that so it lasts.

Over the course of her talk, she will talk about four levers they used to achieve impact that lasts.

Scott Cook built Quickbooks (the first Intuit product), and launched it in 1983.

Before he released, however, he used Ladies Who Lunch as his beta testers, and he didn’t launch until they could get up and running and print a check within the first 15 minutes. Within 5 years, it was the #1 personal finance software, and it was the #1 software being sold.  He did this over and over again with Turbo Tax and other products.  However, as the company grew, business units (or silos!) started to emerge.  And not everyone had the same level of relentless focus on the customer that Scott did.

Kaaren chose to go to Intuit because it was so customer focused, but once she arrived, she realized that they weren’t as customer focused as she thought they were.  Her early efforts involved working with a few others to usability benchmark their products – groups of 50 users to evaluate their major products.

They established a list of core tasks for each product, and their goal was that 9 out of 10 people could accomplish those tasks. But, that didn’t turn out to be true – compared to our competitors we were average, and worse in some cases.  She ultimately took findings to CEO (Steve Bennett) and he had her share it with his staff.  They pushed back, because it didn’t resonate with how they understood the company and it’s products.  Her sister has a tattoo that says “Speak Truth to Power”.  So she built up her courage and said if we don’t change this, we won’t have this reputation.  They agreed to focus on ease of use.  In fact, over time success rates and ease went up, but NPS and revenues did not.

And so Steve asked, what is beyond ease?  They established a small tiger, team, and she worked with a GM, Chief Strategy Officer, and others.  They went to companies that many others admired to try to understand what were they doing that was so great.  They came away with the idea that those companies’ customers feel delight.  It wasn’t such an over-used term at the time.

So they kicked off a new initiative called Design for Delight (D4D).  They were deliberately designing for delight.  They kicked the initiative off at an executive meeting.  The participants had describe an experience that had delighted them (with a cap on the money they had spent).  We had them go around the table and share their experience, and you could start to feel the emotions in the room as people told their stories.  So they ultimately came to that feeling … that was the feeling we wanted to have our customers feel when they talked about our products.

They also looked at revenue and for most, it was above the S&P 500.

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She became the leader of this initiative.  She went to the, where she spent her mornings with business executives, and her afternoons on design thinking, with the goal of understanding more about culture change.

They also organized something they called the Delight Forum.  They had a presentation by a senior executive from a company they admired.  They were asked to watch in small working groups across the firm, and then provide their perspective and insights up their chain of command.

They did things like have engineers take support calls.  So they were feeling really good about accountability and inspiration.

And she worked with many designers on what makes for a good product experience.  So they were feeling really pretty good about that too.

But a year later, nothing had happened.   There was a feeling that this initiative too shall pass – just duck and it will go away.  Their CEO was moving on, and she didn’t know where the knew one stood on this.  A couple of UX Directors left, and the meme around the company was that designers couldn’t be leaders.  And the Meme in industry was that Intuit is where UXers go to die.  She felt really bad going into work every day – just sick to her stomach.

She reflected on conversations from Claudia at P&G.  She said “I wish we had started doing sooner”.  Brad was the new CEO and he had been a member of the leadership team in the past.  He was on board with continuing D4D, but he had two rules (1) No new content, and (2) it better be amazing, because it’s his first offsite.

So she and a few of her trusted colleagues had to figure out what to do with this day.

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The idea was to achieve deep customer empathy, focus from broad to narrow, and conduct experiments.

It was a period of economic depression.  People were buying less food for their family, skipping meals.  They had done surveys, and it was evident that the economy is tough.  But when you are a technology executive and you meet someone who is drinking water for lunch, it created a whole different level of empathy.  They moved from how we make your accounting easier? To how do we put more money in your pocket?  

At the end of the day they had come up with 30-40 ideas, and the small team she had couldn’t cover them all.

That led to the idea of Innovation Catalysts.  She hand-picked a number of strong resources, and asked for 25% of the time.  Over time the size of the group grew.  And they learned a few things along the way:

  • They were much more impactful if they gave D4D away.  Call Center Managers changed the order of questions.  Asking about the customers problem became the first question.  There were other internal successes, too.
  • They also learned that not everyone can be a catalyst.  5 of the 10 initial designers failed to be effective catalysts, because they were used to working in isolation.
  • The learned about the power of the posse.  When you have partner in crime, you are much more likely to engage in risky behavior.  So they started to deliberately train partners.  Suzanne grew that program at one point it was 500 people, with a waiting list of 300. Wendy Castleman grew it even further.

So at that point they had some confidence that they were building D4D in the DNA, but they still didn’t have as strong a design craft as they wanted.   They knew they had to hire more designers, and improve/increase design leadership.

They began to look at the external Ratios of PM to UX.  The best firms consistently had at least two designers to one PM.  In organizations with less optimal UX, the ratio was 1:1, or less than one UX person for each PM.  She she started by looking at strategic projects and raised the number of designers for those.  And when the projects achieved success, she was able to have executive level conversations about the staffing ratios across theri portfolio.  You have 10 product managers so you need 20 user experience resources, and of that group at least 2-3 should be design strategists.

Over time they also worked on the design career ladder.  They used to terminate the career ladder at Director, and at the Manager level for individual contributors.  But by the time she left there were three VPs.  Through those operating mechanisms – job levels, calibration, and more they were able to make a sustained change.

They finally started to receive some great feedback externally.  And now they’re starting to receive design awards, because the designers were in a place where they could do their best work.  They would mention to a project team that design principles were needed, and the project team understood – yes, so we can make faster decisions.

And of course the business impact came as well:

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She was able to show the business impact.

In closing, she made four suggestions to us:

  1. Articulate your vision.  She had to be clear about how they would help Intuit be design-driven.
  2. Win hearts and minds. Provide that visceral experience combined with numbers.
  3. Give it away.  If everyone is doing it, they will appreciate the expert even more, and that also gives the teams more space to do their best work.
  4. Use size.  Rather than be intimidated by the challenge of scaling what you’re doing, use size to your advantage.

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We’re Here for the Humans

Bob Schwartz (General Manager, Global Design & User Experience, GEHC)

Bob started his career working for American Red Cross, drove standards for changes in health care.  He has worked with many big companies, and working to make sure the environment and culture and conditions are in place so they can make the impact they want to make on patient lives.  

Close your eyes.  Imagine when you felt least or most supported in a healthcare experience.  He thinks about his 89 year old mother, and she was – for 10 years – was the caretaker for his stepfather.  We all have stories when it comes to healthcare.  The way to reach gigantic company was to remind them of their own why.

He has been there a decade, and it has been joy by a thousand cuts.  One of the first things they had to do was help the company understand is that there are significant differences in healthcare experience across the 200 countries they do business in.

And these are emotional issues – you don’t have access to care, or to clean water.  He works for a $19B, 15K people company.  They make a lot of stuff.

But we often forgot that stuff isn’t self aware, it doesn’t have feelings.  How can I, as a designer leader, reconnect you with why you’re there?  This is not some abstract throng.  This is all of us in the room.  This could be you, or your son or daughter laying on that table.  It’s not just the technology stack and the revenues.  There is a larger mission.  You don’t get a belief system in place unless you can touch people, and they can relate to the choices they are making in their daily lives.

The first part of building this legacy is that the great technology doesn’t have to stand apart from the emotional benefits, to the patient, to the janitor, to the guy on the manufacturing floor.  Functions / features are connected to emotional benefits you want to deliver.  That approach helped them make a better argument to better understand the user needs.  At every step, they had to remind people of the mission and what they want to deliver.

While constantly delivering on the business, they communicated that healthcare is highly personal, and different around the world.  It’s economic, is spiritual. So you can’t be in a cookie-cutter business.

There has been design in GE Healthcare for 80 years.  But it wasn’t strategic, helping to drive organic growth, with seats at the table.  Designers and other practitioners – they were working under their personal bell jar. There was no common language, design reviews, etc.  At first they started to talk about empathy (just inside the team).  But when traveling in China he was talking to a member of his team and realized that the word “insight” doesn’t translate well into Mandarin.  We had to get our own team to talk about their personal stories.  We had to give them the feel for what we were talking about – and then we started to do that across the company.

In order to do this work, you have to be willing to take a bloody nose.  For the first few years, he thought his name was “schwartzwhatthellareyoudoingnow?”.  But he strongly believed that if you don’t put principles and convictions on the table, you are not going to accomplish much.  He felt that his bloody nose was a badge of honor, and his team came to see that too.

Being subversive with goodness in your heart.  They had to do some things below the radar screen to demonstrate their value and impact.  One way to do that is to find an important project where you know you can make a difference, and invest energy.  This also builds supportive executive relationships along the way.

In his case, the CMO was trying to sell a new brand architecture and segmentation, and CEO wasn’t having it.  They turned one of their workspaces into a movie set, we made the CEO a nurse and we walked him through the hero’s journey.  At the end their were choices.  The CEO agreed that things needed to change.  That really got the conversation going about design, empathy, and patient journeys in ways they weren’t able to do before.

As Kaaren said, giving it away is super important.  And solve other people’s really big problems with your tools, when you can.  Find people willing to take a chance – like the CMO.  In his team there are only 60 of them.  But there are 6K engineers, not counting the software guys.  We are not going to match that – but we have invited them in.  They have created a see one, do one, teach one environment.  People want to be coaches in their workshop.

His recommendations are:

  1. Make it about everyone else
  2. Be subversive (with goodness in your heart)
  3. Recruit the army you don’t control
  4. Combine features and functions with emotional benefits
  5. Show up as a business person in the context of your discipline

At the beginning, if he started with examples inside healthcare, people put their guards up.  So he built empathy by telling stories from his earlier employers, first.   He worked at Red Cross and shared photos from Hurricane Katrina, he worked Motorola enabling police and firemen.  At Proctor and Gamble they looked at laundry practices.  A lady in Venezuela who is hand-washing laundry.  She can’t afford a 3 liter bottle (much less carry it around), and all she wants is to recapture time.  So looking at her as a marketplace will not work.  Use contrary means, it can be very powerful.  Most people wash their clothes in a tub or a river like this!  You have to look at the journey, not at how to sell 3 liters of Tide.

Then he circles back to a photo of an ICU in a third-world country, where the staff is surrounded by GE equipment.  What can we do to make her journey better?  In Saudi Arabia men company women to mammograms, as they can’t expose breast to strangers.  How to design for that?

The way in has been to show the impacts on the human experience.  This is a quote from Carla XX, who inspired their work in many ways.

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Carla would say design was the last decoration station on the way to market.  Why is it that everything else as an investment, but design is an expense?  How to avoid being the caboose?

His team has to deliver 80-130 projects a year, and still find new ways in.  How to understand how a place is wired?  The won’t work with you if they don’t trust you.  It is key to make it about them and their problems.  Take them on your empathetic journey.  This flips the conversation to ensure they pull for you.

Now you have their attention.  How big, how fast, where to play?

We had to have a vision – what does mastery look like?  We needed to create studios.  How to make the studio itself a destination – somewhere people want to bring their customers?  How did we create spaces where leaders want to have their meetings?  We don’t want sensory deprivation chambers!  How to get them to where you are, where you think and act?

Being a great designer is not enough.  We need to be strategic business people, too – we have to be able talk to CFO, CEO, or a Marketing leader.  Designers need to speak the language of business.

They made a journey map, and they have continuously reflected on and updated it.

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If you want to understand what your legacy is, make sure you keep a record and archive of what you do.  Don’t be afraid of what you haven’t done – use it as a lighthouse.

They are the only cross-disciplinary team in the company.  They are in all the right meetings.  They are considered map-makers.  It doesn’t work everywhere, every time, but they have made great headway.

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This image is a mural in one of their innovation spaces.  Edison was the co-founder of the company we now call GE.  Bob recommends the book Midnight Lunch, which is the story of what Edison and his ensemble were doing.  The processes look a lot like how we work together today.

The principles we follow from d-school are very similar to his:

Schwartz 3

One way to get people to let their guard down is to talk about what we did when we were seven.  We talk to engineers about these kinds of behaviors, and that openness helps them solve their own problems. We do it all around the world.

In pediatric health, there can be a lot of anxiety from parents, and that can be transmitted to the children.  How do we make the MRI playful, and part of a story.  Their team has created an undersea adventure and other themes:

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So now the kids are told a story – when the submarine dives, they to be still.  Through these techniques, sedation rates are down by 90% at University of Pittsburgh.  They are doing another one now at UCF, and they crawled around on the floor with the radiologist, using crayons to imagine a new pediatric MRI space.

They put Where’s Waldo inside another CAT scan machine.

How do we make things that look more architecturally normal?  We can leave a legacy by showing not telling.

They are trying to integrate software and hardware.  They are working in virtual reality to help radiologists work differently in the future.  Improving mammography experiences by allowing women to personalize the space with light and other elements.

The takeaway is the five key points mentioned above:

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Organizational Change Through Design That Lasts

Sam Yen (Chief Design Officer, SAP)

Also Managing Director of SAP Labs.  He wanted to be an astronaut as a kid.  He has the degrees and he worked for NASA.  He is about 12 years into his journey at SAP.  And he has a new dream.  He wants SAP to set the standard for enterprise experiences.

Our industry buzzwords … what is missing here?  The humans!  In his presentation, Sam talks about the what, the why, and the how of creating change at SAP both internally, and for the customer community they serve.

What he hears today is that the purpose of machine learning is to make things really efficient to remove humans from the equation.  Doug Engelbart is known for something called the ‘mother of all demos’, and he also invented the mouse.  They had a vision about what technology was all about:

Yen 1.png

We have to avoid losing sight of that.  The good news at SAP is that CEO Bill McDermott advocates for UX as a key part of the company’s strategy:

Yen 2.png

So that’s the why.  But let’s talk about the what.

By a show of hands, who has used SAP software (many raised their hands).



Sam said – let me be the first to apologize to you (which generated lots of laughs, of course).  This design work was done in 1992.  Nobody even knows how many screens we have – his best guess is 300K screens.  SAP customers tell them that if there is a nuclear war, only cockroaches and these screens will survive.

He was asked multiple times to take the job and he declined, but finally they insisted.  SAP and design … don’t have a great reputation.  How do we evolve?


It is on Twitter, so it must be true.  😃

The main part of this presentation is the how.

He is not going to get into a religious debate between UCD and Design Thinking.  What he will say is that we need to be able to speak the language of business – and from there, be able to articulate the value of design.

The journey at SAP began when Hasso Plattner read about IDEO and design thinking in Business Week. image20.png We can joke now that this was a $35M cover.  After reading that article, he invested in the

What got him so excited was that when he co-founded SAP in 1972 they worked very closely with the client.  They observed, they wrote code, and they iterated onsite.  It was part of the DNA.  But as they moved from 5 founders to 45K employees (and now 90K) that culture was lost along the way.

With Design Thinking, Hasso felt there was finally there was a vocabulary that described the DNA of the company.  He felt that with these ways of working, he could scale it to create that culture again with SAP.

In the past few years, the results on the S&P 500 speak for themselves:

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There is a growing understanding in business that design is important.  Those that don’t have designers are acquiring them – everyone is acquiring them!

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Most people don’t have a nice elevator pitch to their CEOs.  This is not his idea (and he doesn’t know where he got it), but he has found it to be very effective:

yen - the formula

Every CEO talks about the need to innovate.  You can’t be successful if you execute, but you don’t have big new ideas.  Or if you have big ideas and you can’t get them to market, that doesn’t work either.  How / can you scale your creativity across the organization?

David Kelly cited a study in which 1500 CEOs were focused on creativity in culture.

They realized that simple problem solving leads to incremental innovations.  The real change is to take a big step back and focus on problem finding.  Identifying the problem worth solving is what often leads to breakthrough innovations.

So many people focus on the solution, in the problem solving space.  Problem solving is easy to divide and conquer – to execute.  But in problem finding, you need different lenses.

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Their journey map has been a long one.  It started in 2004 with the magazine cover.  And SAP has learned a lot during that time.  As a 40 year old German company we have structure, processes, and we are technology driven.  We had to apply Design Thinking to our biggest problems.  And we did not have a good reputation for user experience.  So we also applied design thinking to the craft of UX.  If we were to start from scratch, what can the user experience be?  We have taken great strides, and now we are starting to win design awards.

Some of the guidance they received from Gartner is that SAP needed to not only address their internal issues, but also help their 300K customers around the world.  We improved the user experience, but we also wanted to build relevant new solutions for our customers.  And customers love doing this with you!

If you get the customers to speak about how awesome the methodology is, that helps to create momentum.  Clients will also engage with you much more strategically – and focus less on new features and functions.

In one of these exercises, they brought C-level executives to a Digital Boardroom.  One session was with a group of top 20 executives for a famous CPG company.  We asked them about how to run their business better.  From there, we could create beneficial products and solutions.

We also started doing consulting for our customers, because they liked the methodology and they wanted to build that capability internally as well.  Our customers look back on the 10 year journey, and they reflect that at first they thought Design Thinking was only for Silicon Valley.  Now they are asking What can we learn?  Can you help us build a COE for design and UX?

They are actively seeking ways to deliver unexpected outcomes.  For example, SAP was behind the digital experience of the SuperBowl in San Francisco.  Part of what is exciting is that Design Thinking transcends organizations.  It has gone to the heads of countries right now.  The former president of Korea (now in jail) wanted to get Korea out of manufacturing and into the creativity economy.

They are also actively seeking ways to improve lives.  Like the GE MRI story, they did a project with the Heidelberg Cancer Institute.  Cervical cancer is the main cause of death for women in Kenya, and it appeared that the technology wasn’t working for them.  But as it turned out, the technology was fine.  The issues had to do with aid workers and how the technology was deployed.  Some changes to education resulted in dramatic improvements in screening.

And, although there is more work ahead, they are now included in DMI list, and their designs have won more than 20 awards.

One of the challenges they’re facing with creating a legacy and designs that last is just finding the talent.   We see a ration of 1 designer to 10 developers in the consumer space.  In 2012 there were 200 designers, and that seems like a lot!  Until you realize there are 20K developers at SAP, so the ratio is 1:1000.

How do you improve those ratios?

Given the demand in the market today, we would need 500K designers needed to get to 1:100 ratio.  And to get to the consumer ratio we would need 5M designers!

You need new skills – not just design, but really the UX craft.  You also need new processes – something that scales.  Starting with the user requires a new process, new artifacts, and enforcing design gates.

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Although it was very difficult, they were finally able to stop the shipment of bad products.  That was a huge deal for them.

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They also realized they needed to introduce a Discover phase in order for design to be engaged effectively.  And then of course ensuring continuous involvement in the delivery process.

It is fun to have studio space.  So you can tell your organization that space is important, but don’t start with that – get other more critical stuff changed first.

The reality is that executive sponsorship is necessary but not enough.  We needed momentum from middle management.  Engaging with customers gave them the most traction.

What is this so hard?  He co-teaches a class called about the organizational psychology of design thinking.  When you go to design school, you learn the craft, but then you are dropped into large scale organizations.  And no one teaches you how to translate what you know into business language the people understand.

The professor he teaches with explains that our brains are wired to do things in a certain way.  It is primitive circuitry.  If you are stressed, then you want to go to comfort.  And if you are bored, you want to explore.  So when people are stressed and you ask them to innovate, it doesn’t work.  So as you are rolling out new concepts, you need to be patient with our human limitations.

Today the SAP Design Services team is 80 people.  The group was established to help customer teams.  They have done about 600 engagements so far, and they are starting to identify patterns.  They have created a publicly available design readiness survey.

The goal is that all the stuff they are doing internally should be made available externally for others to use.  They created a course on design for non-designers, which has been the most sought after thing they’ve released.  With Stanford, we want to help people make an impact with design.  How to go from IT thinking to innovation leadership?

A big part of this is a community of practice, where they are working together with a bunch of other large organizations.  Together, they are trying to bring design thinking into their respective organizations.  The community is a way to connect with others regarding what works and doesn’t work.

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Finally, Sam Yen asked us to consider the legacy of diversity and inclusion as well.  He was touched by this – he met someone who designed one of the Air Jordans.  He said that everyone at Stanford looked the same.   Why do we need to go to these schools, when they are such common sense things?  How do we give back, democratize this content – for historically black universities, for example.

1 Comments on “Creating a Legacy (panel)”

  1. Pingback: 1-2-3 Annotating the Intent – CogDogBlog

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