About three years ago I found myself in a situation where I asked myself this same question. I was leader a UX team and was wrestling with trying to increase overall impact in the organisation.

Are we getting the impact from UX that we want? Or do we know what we want?

After a discussion in Sweden and on various Slack groups, I decided to ask a wider group of people and created the European UX impact survey to try to get some better information.

Looking at the results and through all of the conversations since then, I have come to realise that all although this is interesting metric for organisations it is an oversimplified view. Even if organisation have effective designers and teams there are a host of other factors that influence the overall impact of Design organisations. All of these factors work within a larger system so pointing to one metric will likely influence another. 

I have also started to consider a wider lense then just digital and ended up referring to the impact of Design as opposed to User Experience or Service Design.  

Together with Jens Wedin we have developed a model that maps some different components that influence Design in an organisation. The goal of this model is to consider the impact of Design on an organisation holistically.

This model is built on some ideas from both Leah Buley and John Maeda. We call this model the Design Assessment Framework and is based on a series of metrics:

  1. Scope

Describes the scope of the work designers work with. For examples which channels or touch points or how often designers are involved in projects or not.

  1. Strategy

Describes the design strategy and how to implement design in the organization. This is not the product strategy or digital strategy. This is how the design capability will be developed in the organization.

  1. Research

Describes how research is conducted in the organization. Is there a setup for meeting customers? How do you work with qualitative and quantitative research?

  1. Design

Describes how designers work with design in the organization. Is design only visual design or has it a broader spectrum? Is the design capability mature and have design-ops and a high quality over all touch points?

  1. Staffing

Describes what roles are part of the project. Is there only general designers or more specific? Is there any design leadership in the organization? where are they located?

  1. Measurement

Describes how to measure design. Do you measure usability? effectiveness? Are there both  quantitative and qualitative measurements?

  1. Roles, processes & methods

Describes if there is defined roles, process and methods. Are they standardized and used in the organization? Is design part of the larger process of service and product creation?

  1. Organization

Describes how designers are organized. Is there a design organization? Is it embedded or centralized, or both?

  1. Culture, values & principles

Describes the culture, values & principles in the design group or in the organization. Is there a clear design culture?

  1. Environment (Digital & non digital)

Describes the working environment for designers. Is there a environment that support design work?

Based on how you respond to these question will allow organisations to develop a Design Capabilities Canvas which allows visualise where the Design impact is strong or where it needs to improve. This assessment can then allow organisations to identify specific changes that can influence the system and increased Design impact.

If you would like to learn this more in depth contact Jens or myself, or better yet, take our Design Leadership course in Stockholm this fall where you will apply this model to your organisation.