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Design System Culture (Smashing Meets, 2022)

Ben Callahan
November 15, 2022

Design System Culture (Smashing Meets, 2022)

The culture around your design system is greatly impacted by the culture of your organization. In this presentation, Ben shares how this understanding can impact the way you approach creating a sustainable systematic design practice. He examines the various types of organizational cultures and considers how they work together (and how they don't).

The hardest work we have to do is the cultural work. This presentation will help you face that challenge head-on and shape your approach, making your work more sustainable and enjoyable.

Topics covered:
- What is organizational culture?
- How to establish culture
- How subcultures are impacted by overall org culture
- Primary types of design system subcultures
- How to adjust your approach for a sustainable system

Ben Callahan

November 15, 2022
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Transcript

  1. Ben Callahan Design System Culture @bencallahan

  2. a quick story… Last year, my company, Sparkbox, spent the

    majority of the year consulting with a large fi nancial services company. They are a very competitive organization, with lots of ideas for new products. But they really were struggling to move as quickly as they wanted on those new ideas. So, they hired us to help them build a new product and along with that product, a design system. I think their hope was that we could then use the design system to increase the ef fi ciency of their internal teams as they rolled out more products in the future. So we jumped in alongside their teams and got to work. Now, I wish I could sit here and tell you about how amazing this engagement was. But I’ll be very honest, it was a real struggle. It was so dif fi cult, that, at the end of last year, we made the tough decision to walk away from this customer. And the reason that we did so was…
  3. Cultural incompatibility.

  4. @bencallahan (on Twitter) https:/ /bit.ly/connect-with-ben https:/ /sparkbox.com Let’s connect!

  5. Basic Underlying Assumptions Espoused Beliefs Artifacts Organizational Culture is made

    up of three layers
  6. Basic Underlying Assumptions Espoused Beliefs Artifacts Organizational Culture is made

    up of three layers What you see What people say What people believe http://www.scheinocli.org/
  7. Basic Underlying Assumptions Espoused Beliefs Artifacts Organizational Culture is made

    up of three layers What you see What people say What people believe Experience http://www.scheinocli.org/
  8. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible
  9. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf Flexible External Internal
  10. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  11. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  12. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf “People fi rst” “Disrupt everything” “Beat the competition” “Avoid risk”
  13. Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 


    Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” “I believe the scope of my work cannot be accomplished in any way other than to partner with teams who have caught the vision” Design system subcultures are most often Collaborative or Controlling
  14. Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 


    Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” “I believe the scope of my work cannot be accomplished in any way other than to partner with teams who have caught the vision” “My product teams haven’t created consistency, so I’m here to make sure they do going forward” Design system subcultures are most often Collaborative or Controlling
  15. Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 


    Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” The spectrum from collaborative to controlling helps us identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors Unhealthy Collaboration Unhealthy 
 Control
  16. The spectrum from collaborative to controlling helps us identify healthy

    and unhealthy behaviors Primarily based on 
 subscriber needs Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Unhealthy Collaboration Unhealthy 
 Control Primarily based on 
 organization needs Tries to prioritize 
 everyone’s needs 
 (serves no-one well) Ignores input 
 from subscribers 
 (serves no-one well) Prioritization
  17. The spectrum from collaborative to controlling helps us identify healthy

    and unhealthy behaviors Primarily driven 
 by relationship Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Unhealthy Collaboration Unhealthy 
 Control Primarily driven 
 by incentive Unsustainable 
 over-support through the adoption process Unsustainable 
 non-support through the adoption process Adoption
  18. The spectrum from collaborative to controlling helps us identify healthy

    and unhealthy behaviors Intentionally fl exible (extension of the system 
 is encouraged) Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Unhealthy Collaboration Unhealthy 
 Control Necessarily restrictive (extension of the system 
 is discouraged) Extreme fl exibility (extension of the system is overused) Extreme restriction (extension of the system is forbidden) Extension
  19. The spectrum from collaborative to controlling helps us identify healthy

    and unhealthy behaviors System primarily 
 adapts to the work fl ows 
 of the subscribers Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Unhealthy Collaboration Unhealthy 
 Control Subscribers primarily 
 adapt to the approach 
 of the system Extreme accommodation for subscriber work fl ows (decision paralysis) Lack of accommodation for subscriber work fl ows (regular rework) Change Management
  20. Healthy and unhealthy cultural characteristics HEALTHY RANGE Collaborative Controlling Prioritization

    Driven by subscriber needs Driven by organizations needs Tries to serve everyone perfectly, 
 serving nobody well Ignores subscriber input, 
 serving nobody well Change Management System adapts to the 
 work fl ows of the subscribers Subscribers adapt to the 
 approach of the system Extreme accommodation for subscriber 
 work fl ows resulting in decision paralysis Lack of accommodation for subscriber work fl ows resulting in rework Extension Intentionally fl exible, 
 extension is encouraged Necessarily restrictive, 
 extension is discouraged Extension is overused Extension is forbidden Adoption Driven by relationship Driven by incentive Unsustainable over-support, 
 burning out system team Unsustainable lack of support, 
 frustrating subscriber teams
  21. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  22. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  23. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  24. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  25. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  26. There are four primary types of Organizational Culture in the

    competing values framework Focused Flexible External Internal Collaborate 
 Clan Culture 
 “Do things together” Control 
 Hierarchy Culture 
 “Do things right” Compete 
 Market Culture 
 “Do things fast” Create 
 Adhocracy Culture 
 “Do things fi rst” https://www.thercfgroup.com/ fi les/resources/an_introduction_to_the_competing_values_framework.pdf
  27. Can the design system subculture change the 
 culture of

    the organization?
  28. Basic Underlying Assumptions Espoused Beliefs Artifacts Organizational Culture is made

    up of three layers What you see What people say What people believe Experience Create http://www.scheinocli.org/
  29. Your design system won’t make your products more consistent.

  30. People will make 
 what they want to make.

  31. People will make 
 what they want to make.

  32. People will make 
 what they want to make. Your

    job is to change
  33. @bencallahan (on Twitter) https:/ /sparkbox.com https:/ /bit.ly/connect-with-ben Thank you

  34. None