Leadership case study

From UI to strategy:
Establishing a design culture from the ground up

The existing landscape

CEO’s limited understanding

The CEO believed that product design was confined to UI and graphics.

PM’s uncertainty

The PM was uncertain about how a senior product designer would fit into the existing workflow.

Lack of design process

There was no structured design process in place, leading to inefficiencies and misalignment.


Regarding design

When I've first joined ACME company, there was no design team, the CEO saw design purely from an aesthetic standpoint and features where build without a proper process.
Now, design is present from developer's deliveries to board decisions.
The new design process has improved workflows, strategic use of design, cost reduction, stakeholder engagement, and developer quality of life, reducing rework and enhancing efficiency.

Regarding business

This was done while on a consultancy with ACME as our client.
I was able to increase income for the consultant firm by establishing and expanding my presence there, along with a solid design approach, which promoted the feature development process and increased demand for new developers.
For our customer, ACME, it also meant more revenue: with more features on the way and interactive prototypes to exhibit, they were finally able to secure a deal with a large, long-term prospect.

Building trust and starting small

To change perceptions, I knew I had to start small and earn trust along the way

Small wins

I began with basic tasks, delivering what was asked without pushing for major changes. This demonstrated my reliability and expertise.
I've started building a design system to show how even the UI could be strategic.

Collaboration with PM

Recognizing the importance of teamwork, I invested time in building a strong relationship with the PM. We started working together using collaborative tools like Figma and FigJam. This collaboration eased any initial concerns and paved the way for a more integrated approach.

Strategic contributions

As our collaborative efforts grew stronger, so did my contributions to the company's strategic direction

Resolving conflicts

One memorable challenge involved the CEO and CTO, who had conflicting ideas about a new feature. Using design thinking, I facilitated a session where each could visualize and communicate their concepts.

Problem-focused approach

I encouraged the team to shift from jumping to solutions to understanding problems first. This change in mindset led to more effective solutions.

Engaging the development team

Collaborative meetings

By participating in developer meetings, I incorporated their feedback early in the design process. This improved technical feasibility and fostered a sense of ownership among developers.

Design advocacy

Over time, developers began to advocate for design principles, recognizing their impact on the product’s success.

Achievements and impact

Aligned teams

Today, development and product teams work in harmony, thanks to a well-implemented design process. This alignment has led to smoother workflows and more cohesive product development.

Enhanced stakeholder engagement

Stakeholders are now more strategic and objective in their ideation, leading to better product decisions and more innovative solutions.

Cost reduction

The structured design process has significantly lowered development costs by reducing rework and improving efficiency.

Design that sells

The company now uses design strategically to attract leads and convert them into customers.

A successfully implemented design process, demonstrating the strategic value of design and its ability to drive innovation, efficiency, and business success through small wins.