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Putting Experience Design to Work Everywhere

by Josh Tyson
4 min read
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Lessons in the strategic adoption of UX from Citrix and the Design for Experience awards.

Everyone wants a piece of us right now. Experience design has led to the creation of so many revolutionary products, services, and systems that businesses of every stripe are fully embracing the power of UX.

While plenty of these organizations have design teams in place and have been implementing some measure or manner of UX for years, the next step is bringing an awareness of user-centric thinking to every corner and crevice inside the organization.

The best way to achieve this lofty and challenging goal is by studying the approach of those who’ve already succeeded. Software giant Citrix is one such success story. As the winner of the DfE award for Adoption of Experience Strategy, the company demonstrated prowess in brining these goals and strategies to everyone in their organization.

Not surprisingly, part of their approach to adopting experience strategy was to learn from others, seeking out experts and partnering with them. They’ve also made sure that those in the C-suite understand the benefits of an “experience-first” strategy, as well as the complexity of implementing such a thing.

Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Catherine Courage is in charge of championing design, and her team partners with departments companywide to deliver the best experiences to customers and employees. Part of her approach is to spread creativity throughout the organization, something she’s talked about in her popular TEDx talk, “Igniting creativity to transform corporate culture.”

“Different teams have different cultures, so a one-size-fits-all approach does not work with the adoption of design thinking,” Courage says. “The key is practicing what we preach and gaining empathy for the team that we are going to be working with by asking questions and understanding baseline information.”

According to Courage, these questions can include:

  • What kinds of innovation projects have they worked on?
  • What is their comfort level with change?
  • Have they worked closely with their users?

“Gaining an understanding of these factors is key because we immediately address the problem from their perspective, gaining their buy in and trust. It also helps us understand the level of support the team will require from us.”

The teams Courage partners with become Citrix Design Catalysts who help spread the message about the success of their project within the company, spreading curiousity about the benefits of design experience at the same time.

“A one-size-fits-all approach does not work with the adoption of design thinking”—@ccourage

“We have great success in unexpected places,” Courage says. “We’ve worked with several internal teams whose customers are actually our employees … With our HR and IT departments, for example, we applied the design thinking approach to revamp our new-hire onboarding process so new employees can be productive and successful as quickly as possible.”

Citrix was also the winner of the Work Environment for Digital Practitioners (In-House) award, for creating a remarkable setting where employees can get together and freely collaborate in open spaces, using the company’s own software to “workAnywhere.”

Inspired by the Stanford d.school‘s collaborative design space, Courage championed a project to build a similar design studio at Citrix’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

The Custom Collaborative Design Studio provides 2,000 square feet of open space where team members from multiple disciplines come together to share ideas and iterate. Populated with tables, whiteboards, comfy chairs, and couches, the space is modular and customizable, so teams can rearrange thing to suit their activities.

One of Courage’s keys to “igniting creativity” is fostering creativity in employees the same way parents often do in children. In the Custom Collaborative Design Studio, there are tools that get the childlike root of creativity: a bountiful supply of markers, blank paper, and sticky notes, plus loads of quick-and-dirty prototype materials—from construction paper to pipe cleaners.

No one can schedule time here, people just show up, creating a casual atmosphere for building stronger relationships with teammates. Employees who were formerly collaborating in cubes via email and instant message now leave their computers to gather around a whiteboard, experimenting spontaneously because the space fosters that kind of behavior.

So, in a sense, adopting an effective experience strategy means taking the kind of focus that organizations are used to putting on the users they market products to and shifting it to their other users: the ones who work for them. One way to do this is by giving the term “customers” a broader definition.

“We continue to focus on our customers, which we define as our users, partners, and employees,” Courage says. “Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is to create world classes experience for customers at every single touch point along their Citrix journey. We don’t want to be status quo … we want to excel, differentiate, and delight with exceptional experience.”


The finalists in the Adoption of Experiences Strategy category also made their mark. Infor | Hook & Loop strives to structure applications around the workflow of the user rather than forcing the user to conform their workflow to the structure of the application. Turkcell works to ensure that everyone is responsible for the user experience, not just those on the UX team, and that the UX team is included in every step of product lifecycle.

If you know of any products or services that deserve DfE recognition, make a recommendation now using the form in the right-hand sidebar (or at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device). For a limited time, anyone who makes a valid recommendation will get a free book download form our sponsor, Rosenfeld Media.

post authorJosh Tyson

Josh Tyson, Contributing Editor Josh Tyson is a Denver-based content specialist focused on UX, AI, and conversational design. He is the co-host of N9K, a podcast from the future, and stays balanced by drawing on the powers of family, skateboarding, yoga, and art.


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