Reality Check. Establishing Design Literacy in an organization can be challenging, and time consuming. It’s a necessary investment, one that produces results across a variety of subjects, which include, more relevant and accomplished solutions, effective team integration (which as a side note, also implies swifter on boarding processes), brand awareness, among many others. Below are some points worth considering when tackling an endeavor such as this one.
1.Transparency — I’ve addressed the topic of Transparency in the past, but I’d like to reinstate that it’s a cornerstone of this endeavor. Design Literacy is all about being transparent and communicating with different teams, on a variety of topics, which includes definition of processes (specifically, what is Design Thinking, Design Sprints, Workshops, Research, User Interviews, Usability Testing, and the list goes on), team integration, how problems are defined, expected outcomes (of different natures, including for instance, artifacts produced by Design teams), assessing friction points (both external and internal), defining retrospective analysis (reflection on how processes have taken place and measuring their outcomes), and this list also goes on. Without transparency, there’s less ability for participation, for collaboration, for questioning, which dampens the process, warping the solutions that are created.
2.Communicate and Educate — Designers have to understand, now more than ever before, that their role has a large component tied to education, on top of the catalyst and alchemist ones. In order to be able to bring out the best of each team one collaborates with, everyone has to understand the journey they’re embarking on, and the language everyone is speaking. This means for Designers, detailing what Design Thinking processes are, discoverability processes, research processes (also topics I’ve written about previously), all neatly tied with effective documentation tactics. By documenting, by reinforcing collaboration, seeking participation, communicating expectations and requirements, Designers can successfully start educating and disseminating what Literacy is about, and how it informs the hopeful, successful outcomes of the initiatives taking place.
3.Listen — Literacy will never be achieved if Designers don’t listen. And listening comes from multiple sources, namely from clients, from internal stakeholders, peers, anyone that comes in contact with these professionals. Education is a relationship, and as such, it’s a communication, an interchangeable process by which information gets passed around, where Designers transmit, but also absorb knowledge about the tissue of the Organization, teams, and their users. The education process, the literacy that is accomplished, should never be done in a siloed context — it’s an eminently social process which requires Designers to understand the context where the organization lies, and consequently, where they’re inserted.
4.Outcomes — The output of Design Literacy can take a variety of shapes. As mentioned previously, being able to document and share what defines Design, its language, its vocabulary, its methods, is fundamental to this type of initiative. Design Systems, Style Guides, Design GuideBooks, Confluence Pages, Wiki Pages, all these different artifacts which are produced these days, are a manifestation of how this Design Literacy takes place. These are but a small outcome of this bigger endeavor, one that as the previous points urge and highlight, should be democratized across the entire organization.