Writen by Júlia Vieira,

How we built our Design Culture in an Outsourcing context


In this article I intend to tell a little bit about the history of the ilegra Outsourcing Design team, which today we call We Are UX, or affectionately WAU. First, we are going to provide some context about culture and how it builds organizations and design.  Then, we will address the challenge of building a design culture in an Outsourcing context.

What is Culture?

Before discussing Design Culture, it is necessary to understand the concept of culture in general, which refers to the characteristics and knowledge of a certain group of people, such as language, religion, cuisine, music and arts.

What is Organizational Culture?

It is also important to highlight the importance of considering other cultures that can affect design, such as the organizational culture of a company, which includes attitudes, formal and informal rules, habits, symbols and language. Each company is unique and has its own culture.

What is Design Culture?

Design culture is more than a work structure, it is a way of being, acting and thinking, based on the belief in a better world and the desire to improve people’s lives. This involves problem solving and a systemic vision, understanding people, contexts and ramifications. A strong and well-defined design culture leads to more consistent and effective results. And it can take on different levels of maturity in different contexts and organizational cultures.

In the image below we can see a visual example of how these cultures are built through their intersections.

Now we need to understand the context in which We Are Ux design team is inserted. And the context is one of Outsourcing. 

A little about Outsourcing and Design Culture 

Outsourcing in Design Culture can be a strategy used by companies that do not have an internal design team, or that need reinforcement for a specific project. 

It is important to emphasize that Outsourcing in Design Culture can present some challenges. For example, it may be more difficult to maintain efficient communication and a collaborative work culture, but it’s not impossible. 

Outsourcing can bring many benefits to companies, such as different people from different backgrounds thinking about the same project. Building and sharing a product that is increasingly rich in diversity and potential. In short: it’s a an effort that requires a lot of partnership, communication and contributions from all sides! Because in the end, we are the sum of our parts, right? 

Now that we’ve put that in context, let’s talk about the challenge of building We Are UX. 

The Challenge was to structure the Product Design team from an Outsourcing perspective. That is, the designers will work with different clients, with different realities in their daily lives. So how could we build a strong internal environment and a good Design Culture? 

To deepen the understanding of this context, I will share the image below with our work structure as a design team for Outsourcing: 

In this image we see our design team (We Are UX) in orange and next to it, in purple, the design team of our partners. Also in orange, we can see where our designers fit within the partner company’s team. 

In this second image, which is below, we can see the various activities that a designer on our team can experience and how many opportunities we have to deal with different scenarios and contexts in our day to day as a team, since many professionals may be working with different partners. 

And what were the strategies we chose? 

The strategy was to build an environment where there was a strong sense of community for design, technical development, personal development and belonging, always prioritizing the engagement and well-being of the team. 

To achieve this goal, we initially strengthened the bond between all team members by creating a name for the group, We Are UX (WAU), and established semi-monthly meetings focusing on dynamics facilitated by leadership and knowledge exchange. Each agenda included a study topic brought by a team member. The main objective here was to create a sense of belonging and community among all members, which was the basis for us to advance in maturity levels as a Design team. 

In addition, we prioritized follow-up, developing a model that encompasses the employee, the client and the project where the employee is working, as well as the We Are UX Design team. 

In the image below, you can see how we first organized this process.

But what about now? How is our We Are UX design team organized?

With a foundation of protected and strengthened relationships, our Design team has progressed. To complement the semi-monthly meetings and individual follow-up with feedback, we implemented other initiatives, such as technical mentors from among the team’s senior members, daily meetings in English to practice technical language, Happy Hours, topical dojos, study groups, technical training, OKRs, the team’s visual identity, talks, open meetups, and several other ideas, which are included in the image below.

In addition to the initiatives mentioned above, we seek to promote actions that involve the company as a whole, such as our participation in ilegra 360, with an agenda for exchanging knowledge that encompasses all sectors of the company.  We recently built a complete training course on Product Discovery, with the collaboration of four members of our Design team, who came together to conduct research and create the material. We make training available on Google Classroom, allowing everyone in the company to access it, sharing knowledge not only with our Design team, but with all company professionals.

And what have we learned?

Here are the main lessons that were extracted from the experience of We Are Ux in building a strong Design team and a solid Design culture:

+++ Relationships are the foundation of everything at a time. It is important to find points of convergence and create a relationship of trust with each person at the time.

+++ It does no good to force things. People need to see value in what is being proposed for them to engage.

+++ Each person is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. There is no set recipe when it comes to managing people.

+++ Everyone is part of the team’s success.

+++ It’s important to make mistakes and learn from them in order to move forward and improve.

+++ Delegating roles and defining responsibilities is critical to team success. Providing direction is different from leading people by their hand.

+++ Strengthening team culture is an ongoing job and never ends.

+++ If the team trusts you, they will stay with you even in bad times.

+++ Happy people deal better with everyday challenges and conflicts.



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