UX Advantage 2015: Bringing UX to all of GE

Samantha Soma, UX Program Facilitator

– GE is 130 years old
– shout-out to engineers: GE has been a design company for its entire history
– 2010-2011: discovered 14th largest software company in US, unbeknownst to them; analytics tools build by engineers; decided to codify design as a practice; created UX Center of Excellence, team of 4, with about 40 other UX designers across the company
– what is a UX program facilitator: originally, was UX community lead to bring together all the UX designers across the company and evangelize; have 800+ now and is self-supporting; moved to facilitate “design workouts” at HQ now; soemtimes have to intervene between GE salesperson and the end client – grab the pen from the GE person and hand it to the customer; don’t have a number to make, have a problem to solve; facilitator, not domain expert; get peole closest to the problem to speak up
– tell us more about the structure: UX CoE is dispersed; software CoE is in San Ramon, with about 60 designers that work with multiple products in industrial arena; now have ‘design directors’ instead of ‘design leads’; they are invited to more meetings and listened to more directly; GEs language didn’t map to the outside world; also found that general HR couldn’t really evaluate recruits; inserted ourselves into the hiring process for designers; invest $1billion a year in corporate education (LP – leadership program); started the UX Leadership Program – apprentice new graduates to senior designers, hope to propogate out
– measured as much on how you do your job as well as how productive; if you get a lot done but no one wants to work with you, you don’t succeed; there is a long career path for designers
– in a data driven organization, is design hard to measure: some business verticals have been more successful than others; can’t measure lines of code you didn’t have to right because you were solving the wrong problem; have had some great successes where the Design Workout changed the direction of a product; e.g. drilling process folks needed a screen design, did in person research, and understanding was so much deeper that they designed a completely different solution and won all the awards that year; no two problems are alike, so how do you measure the impact; have been able to show measured results in a few cases like how much higher a team’s velocity is or how much time was saved
– how are projects resourced to include this work: evolving to better place from where designers were used to “skin” products that were already “done”; products that focus on velocity to the detriment of good user experience haven’t had as good business outcomes; design is now present at the outset rather than later; getting people to realize that design is about solving a problem and being the voice of the customer rather than making it pretty
– evangelism: training, workshops, etc. only works so far; most of org needs to see the value of a design-oriented way to solve the problem; her facilitation is now has a reputation and is in demand
– GE Work Out: a special meeting where the people invited are explicitly empowered to say ‘yes’: http://www.slideshare.net/steven.hy.tseng/the-workout-solve-your-business-issues
– Design Work Out: 2-day, design focused; a bit ritualized to create the space to open up at the design center; put away the technology, comfortable space, whiteboards, etc.; at the end of 2 days, they realize they are thinking about the problem differently
– outside firms: still use them because we have more design work than they can possibly do; changed the nature of the collaboration, sometimes that’s been uncomfortable for some agencies
– design directors: 50% promoted internally, 50% recruited; important attribute of anyone in that role is patience; e.g. have to go knock back a couple beers with a railroad engineer in a field study
– would love to have a research librarian that helps communicate and disseminate what we learn to others across the organization
– Fast Works Every Day – lean startup, scientific methods, design thinking methods; evolving from Six Sigma: https://hbr.org/2014/04/how-ge-applies-lean-startup-practices/
– how does this big lumbering organization move: patience; not really waiting for people to age out; story-telling culture; success stories lead to more attention and the spread of ideas and methods

This entry was posted in Interaction Design. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *