When organizations actively encourage new ideas and listen to user and customer input, they can design more effective experiences, products, and services. Design maturity is a way of measuring how well an organization is set up to do that.
In organizations with high design maturity, processes and teams are built to be design-centric. Design teams own user experiences and take responsibility for understanding and implementing feedback. And user data and research are used to guide the company’s strategy.
What is it?
Design maturity describes how well an organization listens to customer and user input, and how customer and user-centric its design processes and teams are.
In organizations with high design maturity, design teams don’t act on gut instincts. They have clear customer and business-centric metrics in place to define what great experiences should deliver — both in terms of customer satisfaction, and bottom-line dollars.
Customer feedback and satisfaction is regularly communicated throughout the organization, and the company is obsessed with delivering great experiences. Fresh feedback and input are constantly gathered, ensuring that everything designed — from customer engagement touchpoints to physical products — meets customer’s needs effectively.
What’s in for you?
Organizations with high design maturity are more effective at meeting customer and user needs, and delivering truly exciting and engaging products and experiences. Well-known examples like Apple, Logitech, 3M, and Nike all demonstrate how a mature approach to design that’s extremely focused on understanding what customers want can be a huge competitive differentiator.
In its Business Value of Design report, McKinsey says that companies with top-quartile McKinsey Design Index scores — organizations with high design maturity — outperformed industry-benchmark growth by as much as two to one.
What are the trade offs?
Design maturity doesn’t happen by accident. To maintain high maturity, organizations need to build their entire culture and many of their processes around their customer experiences. For a small startup in its early days, that’s not too difficult. But for enterprises with established cultures, complex processes, and large teams, it’s more challenging.
One thing organizations often do is run “snapshot” events to gather user and customer input early in the design process. That’s a good start, but true design maturity requires that customer behavior and feedback be analyzed and woven into every stage of the design and development cycle.