Design Org Foundations

I’ve been championing work for our design org around what I’m calling “Foundations”. These are the pillars where if any one of them were to be unsteady, it would affect everything else. They are represented by the following:

  • Principles
  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Mission
  • Vision

The problem with doing these after an org has been well established (which it was before I got here) is that going back to do what should have been done from the beginning creates confusion on how to approach each of these. If nothing else, because it’s kinda like retconning. Also, many of these crossover with others and thus they can sometimes be hard to distinguish from each other.

I’m currently running a workshop with my design leadership team (this is after I led one with the whole org where each and every person got to provide their versions of these and we in leadership are using their inputs as the basis for our work) and we were having a hard time grokking the difference between some of the concepts. On paper the differences make some sense, but when you get to writing them you start to see how they all blend together and that is where things get confusing.

While enjoying a rewatch of one of my favorite series before it was taken off of Netflix, I had an epiphany. So, I got really nerdy and I came up with even more examples but all from a single source (versus the myriad of ones I had collected from multiple companies).

Thought some of my readers might enjoy this:

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Mission Statement
“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

Series Principles 
“Roddenberry detailed five items in the handbook that must be followed to create a “Star Trek” story. Those were: the stories were about people; framed in an optimistic vision of the future; from the point of view of captain and crew; and the regular cast are each episode’s heroes, and the home base of the crew is the Enterprise.”

Value One – Inclusivity and Diversity
“The Enterprise crew should be ‘completely multi-racial.'”

Value Two – Optimism
“Leonard Nimoy often said that what set Roddenberry’s creation apart from the other science fiction franchises was optimism.”

Value Three – Hope
“‘A lot of science-fiction is nihilistic and dark and dreadful about the future, and ‘Star Trek’ is the opposite,’ Nimoy told the New York Times in 2009. ‘We need that kind of hope; we need that kind of confidence in the future. I think that’s what ‘Star Trek’ offers.'”

“Star Trek shows us that no matter how bad the world outside our windows gets, there is still a bright light at the end and that humanity has the potential to be so much more than it has ever been.” – Andrew Hales

I didn’t come up with all of these examples myself, you can find the source for most of the quotes (save for the mission statement), here. Rather, what I’m doing here is taking a unique approach to this problem space and applying the provided examples to help us understand some seemingly simple yet somewhat complex concepts we (should) find in the business world.

Let me know what you think.