Inclusive Design Advocacy

Steering a large and traditional organization toward a more inclusive product development process and working environment

Service

Design Strategy, Guideline & Principle Creation, Toolkit Design, Expert Interview

Output

Inclusive Design Guideline, Principles and Process, 1-3-5 Year Strategy Roadmap, Toolkit for Empathy-building

Client

A new tech subsidiary of a global manufacturing giant

Duration

5 months

Our client is a new tech subsidiary of a traditional global manufacturing giant tasked with building its future-forward R&D campus. Although delivering human-centered solutions was one of their core vision, they struggled with implementing it in their everyday workflow. Their UX strategy team, therefore, came to us looking to co-develop approaches to implement inclusive design within the organization.

Inclusive Design

Inclusive design describes methodologies and processes to create products, services, or environments considering the full range of human diversity concerning age, gender, race, ability, identity, etc. Inclusive design is human‑centered design by its nature and advocates for taking a wider variety of user needs into account.

For more information on inclusive design, see The Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University.

Results

New role and organization structure dedicated to inclusive design

We helped demonstrate to the client’s leadership that inclusivity must be approached in a holistic, collective, and long-term fashion for changes to be effective & sustainable. Today, there are dedicated individuals within client organizations for inclusive design, and they are actively planning to scale the effort.

Narrative advocating for inclusive design unique to the client's cultural and industry context

The narratives we co‑created with the client were tailored to their wide project variety, with use cases and resources curated for fields such as architecture, product development, machine learning, service design, etc. All the materials were also available in both English and the local language, with the content deliberately adapted for their multicultural workforce.

Supporting materials on both the tactical and strategic level

Our client now has a set of milestones, a strategic roadmap, and a maturity model to help them plan future directions, gain stakeholder buy-in, and obtain resources to scale the effort. We also developed design principles, processes, and dedicated toolkits supporting project teams’ everyday workflow. The use cases and examples we provided have inspired and generated many internal conversations and upcoming initiatives within the client’s organization.

Our Approach

Phase 1: Create a Shared Vision

Being a newly established subsidiary of a traditional manufacturer, our client’s organization set out with the goal to create solutions benefiting all. However, internally, there were many misalignments on what benefiting all really entailed, how they should practice it, and what level of commitment is needed. Our client was therefore concerned that their products wouldn’t be inclusive to a diverse range of people.

To support our client advocating for a more inclusive approach within the company, ICI conducted background research, spoke to stakeholders and subject matter experts, and ran competitive analyses. The results were synthesized and articulated into a set of vision statements, guiding design principles, and untapped potentials, aiming to provide insights into what inclusivity means for our client’s specific context and why it should be a top priority for the company.

Phase 2: Establish a Holistic & Organizational Strategy

Our Phase 1 outcome established a sound foundation for the client starting their inclusivity journey and greatly accelerated their progress. For this phase, they came to us with a new question directly from their leadership — how should they implement inclusive design as an organization?

Talking to individuals and management at client’s company and reviewing case studies, we began by mapping out where and what approaches would be most appropriate and influential within client’s organization. Our solution advocated for a holistic approach covering not just the project workflow, but also the corporate DEI efforts, talents needs, and governance structure.

Phase 3: Provide Guidance and Support to the Teams

In addition to the leadership support following our Phase 1 outcome, the vision we presented resonated with many individuals within the organization and generated many interests in applying it to their own projects. However, inclusive design was a novel concept to most of our audience, and their experiences with a human‑centered design process varied.

We, therefore, co-created with our client a detailed guideline highlighting what and how to apply specific inclusive lenses at different project stages. It featured methods, use cases, and resources relevant to the wide project variety at client’s company respectively. This guideline also provided more tangible goals to our audience, enabling our client to further engage with different stakeholders advocating for the adoption of inclusive design.