Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Aug 2019

Organizational Maturity

Happenstance or happen to have a stance

Reviewing some older notes on organizations and user experience, came across a few bits on the UX Maturity Scale. What’s clear about it is that it’s not so much a discussion on whether understanding user experience is possible or not, but the competence of what’s understood because of the maturity of the organization attending to leverage it.

If one were to view their organization’s processes or departments through this lens, it is possible to uncover aspects of work and process which fit the day-to-day expectations, but result in increased friction towards the very groups the org aims to empower. Introspective? Yes. This lens confronts the org with the very core tenants of their reason for existing. Granted, some might have the stance, we don’t do this for clients/consumer, but for shareholders. Yet, even then, a culture has to mature towards this, minimizing friction in respective spaces until the core audience is consistently pleased.

Beyond the design perspective, maturity looks similar — what are the implicit rules being followed, when do those rules become autonomous stimuli, and when do those become defining character. One could assume that much of this happens by chance. That, at some point in the evolution of an org, certain traits come to the surface over others, creating the framing to which the org will define itself. Yet, it seems that for some of the adored and loathed orgs, this is less random and more structured. These orgs happen to craft some stance on which their very orgs will live or die, and then it becomes so insistent, that aspects of an org which seem they should be unaffected, now conform to such a vision.

Clients and customers feel this. They feel the connect or disconnect from the touch-points of an org and their messaging. It might even be subconsciously understood even if it’s consciously exercised. A company might hold itself to the highest standards of diversity and inclusion, yet have the very difficult task of retention because their hiring processes and department haven’t reorganized and re-measured around diversity/inclusion metrics, still keeping the same friction and KPIs of the very practices and industries they market themselves different than. A company might say sustainability, security, and privacy, yet their most ardent customers degrade, irritate, and unhealthily expose other members with such ferocity that no amount of company posturing removes the friction felt by those being subjected to alternate views. Experience isn’t something found by happenstance, it is very much designed into the very structures of what makes an org live.

Have been giving the uneasy smirk in explaining to organizations that user experience isn’t a product — it is the summation of the client/consumer’s ability to feel/not feel friction between their expectations and reality. To an org which is mature, this isn’t a challenging point of view. It is a level-setting one. If your org believes themselves to be mature, having a stance will cause the greatness that happenstance cannot.