IBM at MX 2014: Design-centered at Scale

I’ve been going to the MX: Managing Experience conference since it began in 2007 (full disclosure: I used to work for Adaptive Path as a Studio Director — I even spoke at the first MX!). Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of amazing work done to manage and lead in organizations from a design perspective. The war stories, successes, and failures are amazing and have influenced me greatly. One of the things that stood out most from many of them is how important commitment from overall leadership is to putting design and experience at the core of an organization’s activities. Design-led change is hard and it’s clear that lip service to design doesn’t really cut it. That’s why I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share what’s going on at IBM right now (I’m a Design Principal in IBM’s new Design Division). IBM is serious about design in a way I have seldom seen. The amount of social and financial capital that they are investing is unprecedented. It also raises major challenges and questions: How do you take one of the oldest and largest companies in the world and put design and experience at the center of everything it does? How do you scale the basic tenets and approaches of design in all its many flavors to truly be at the center of an entire company? How do you orchestrate transforming a company to this new way of being when it has over 100 years of working in a different way? How do you do it on a fairly short time scale? That’s the endeavor our IBM Design...