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It's just great to see how enthusiastic many companies have become about institutionalization of customer-centric design. They certainly get excited. And they often start reeling off projects and programs that they want to start last year or sooner. There is always a set of major design initiatives in progress which will be likely to train-wreck if UX staff are not dispatched instantly. There is a group that needs training. And, we need to get standards or we will continue to build an installed base of non-compliant designs. It's exciting to find all this energy. But...

Having worked for thirty years on this stuff, I have one idea to share.

Please, DON'T PANIC. I know starting a set of initiatives right now seems much more compelling than 6 weeks of careful planning. But, if you want to optimize your success over the next couple of years, please take that time. If you want immediate action and immediate results, go for it. The problem is that it can be like wanting to paint your floor and starting sloshing paint down before you check for an escape route from the corner you are in. Well, actually, it's worse than that...

Actually, there are two critical success factors that open the door to success in these projects. You need an executive champion at a high enough level in the organization to really support this type of process change. In addition, you need a written strategy. This strategy aims the overall initiative and if it is not really well crafted, the overall initiative is likely to fail, or at least be trapped in a corner.

When I wrote Institutionalization of Usability, I prepared a nice chart of the things needed for an institutionalization program. I was pretty close. BUT, when you get down to specifics of where you source resources from, and how you move the cultural awareness, and how you sequence the investments... the plan becomes pretty sensitive and complicated. In addition, the planning process itself needs to begin the culture change.

We have spent decades convincing people that UX work is not 'just common sense'. I will now respectfully submit that the institutionalization of UX is even MORE 'not common sense'. The stakes are high. And the experience needed to craft an optimal program for an organization is far greater than that needed to design a good screen.

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