Slowing down to scale design

A presentation at SDNOW4 in in Melbourne VIC, Australia by Samantha Yuen

To begin a new starter:

  1. In a large bowl, mix 55+ UX designers, 1 design research coach, and 12 months of experiments till well-combined.
  2. Leave to ferment till it starts to bubble.
  3. Feed regularly to encourage the development of strong skills and elastic mindsets.

Like artisan sourdough, growing a robust design practice requires time, space & perseverance. Without rigour, we’re just creating a lot of product without the ‘nutrition’ that feeds wider outcomes.

I shared my experiments from 17 months at GovTech Singapore through 3 areas we can slow down, and an approach for scaling design capability sustainably.

In case you were wondering: This work is very much WIP. The outcomes achieved are still unevenly distributed, and do not fully represent the culture across the organization.



The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Q: How do you slow down, Sam?

    Can’t remember what I said on stage, but a) being mindful about my tendency to say yes/do more (and ensuring I sleep on decisions), b) tracking how I spend my time, c) meditating, d) trying to exercise and watch less Netflix! I added 2 slides on time-tracking to the refined talk that I presented at the UXSEA Summit after

  • Q: Can you elaborate more on what being an octopus means?

    When you first start in design (or any craft), it’s like being a fish. Then you get really good at some things, so you become a shark. But when you start leading teams, those skills matter less because you’re now an octopus with 8 tentacles - some of them are weak or barely formed, and you have to build new muscles again. Not to mention all the stuff you have to juggle!

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