Human-Centered Design Principles Can Play a Key Role in Transformation

By Cynthia Short

A human-centered design approach is key to a successful transformation.

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-centered design is very often narrowly thought of as being applied to a product, visual, or interface design work. But human-centered design is an approach and a mindset that has application across the board in enterprise work, including transformation initiatives.

Why Do We Need Human-Centered Design in Transformation Work?

When dissecting the large failure rate of transformation work, too often people are at the center of failed transformations. If changes are not designed with people at the core of the design process, buy-in and adoption is almost impossible. Regardless of what type of transformation the enterprise is navigating – functional, digital, process, business model, cultural – people embracing the change is crucial to success.

The Principles of Human-Centered Design

So how do you employ human-centered design in transformation work? While there are many, I’ve found two key principles that, when followed, can make a huge impact in a transformation:

1. Putting people first in unexpected places. 

It’s not just understanding people as end-users of new technology or processes, even though it’s critical. People can and should be applied to all of the elements in a transformation: Outcomes, timing, project structures, success measures, communications, team design, etc. Transformations are all-encompassing – the entire experience of the work should be designed to bring people along.

2. One size does not fit all. 

Efficiency in work is always a goal and is most often approached through the lens of “one for all”. To fully engage people there needs to be a significant level of customization that meets people where they are at in order to truly see success. Acknowledging different groups’ needs and preferences, and designing flexibility into the work to accommodate those differences at the beginning, can actually provide more efficiency in the long run. 


There is an opportunity for better outcomes if we avoid the “Here’s a process we’re gonna follow…” or “Here’s the checklist we’re gonna stick to…:” approach to transformation. That is how work gets very process-driven and technology-based, even robotic. The robots haven’t taken over – yet! – so taking a human-centered design approach to your transformation work can deliver the meaningful change your organization needs.

If you are looking to take a human-centered approach in your transformation work,  contact Lexico.