ADIM Conference 2019 : Managing Vulnerability and Uncertainty

Managing Vulnerability and Uncertainty: Building designerly ways of doing within non-designer teams

Co-Authors: Rhea Alexander, Sarah Jones and Vinay Kumar Mysore

Publication Number: ISSN 2632004-5 (online)

Keywords: Design in healthcare; Human-Centered Design; Innovation; Design entrepreneurship


This case study explores building design competencies and a design-driven organizational culture within an American healthcare non-profit.

More than simply applying design tools within the healthcare, this case study looks at how this organization has succeeded and continues to develop designerly competencies in its diverse staff. Staff are primarily from the healthcare space, as well as banking and sales.

We look at how the staff has adapted to working within a design-driven organization, how the organization’s founder has helped guide team members through a process of discomfort and vulnerability as they develop confidence and capabilities using and applying iterative design methods and embracing innovation and uncertainty within an experimentally-driven and human-centered organization.

Using surveys and interviews with employees at various points in their early tenure including observational data, we chart a transformational arc. The learnings to share include both the universal and the particular: what are the core competencies to develop in all organizational members, and what are the specific and different ways competencies can take form. From building explicitly shared languages to facilitated sensemaking this case study offers an opportunity to share new and developing practices for embedding design-driven innovation and management practices in new fields and contexts.