We are fascinated with the way people work

We know that design is as important to defining how project teams come together to solve operational challenges as it is to tapping into a workforce to discover transformational insights.


We're pioneers, always have been

We were there in the earliest days of software development — designers pushing their way into the invention of business software and operating systems, before the birth of the personal computer. At the time, other designers didn't understand why we wanted to work in this space... and business and technology folks couldn't understand what a designer would add to their projects. Decades later, design and technology are inseparable.

Zenda designers are breaking ground again by expanding the influence of design beyond the computer screen — to the way we understand business operations and how we organize the event of work — people, technology, policy and data.


We see people​ where others see users

When you are a "UX designer" or a "UI designer" the world is full of users and design's influence is ultimately served up on a computer screen. We see things differently.

People exist in a context that may include technology, but is also likely to include other people, cultural influences, equipment, environmental factors, policies, procedures, information and other aspects of the work event. Zenda designers know that Work Design™ means shaping an event that is larger than a computer screen, and seeing people as more than users.


Measuring impact is a must

Zenda's client partners are bold. They choose to design business operations differently than they have been designed in the past — by placing designers at the center of their efforts. By defining quantifiable impact targets with our client partners, Zenda designers are delivering measurable effect to business operations and making our risk-taking partners their organization's latest impactful innovator.

It is no longer good enough to deliver systems that are capable and reliable; from Finance to Healthcare, Zenda focuses on business technology to drive exceptional levels of efficiency and productivity.”


What is Work Design?

Work Design focuses on the event of work — how people, policy, tools and data come together to most effectively achieve business goals.

Four Axes of Understanding and Insight: Different from service design or user experience design, Work Design is a balanced understanding and arrangement of all aspects of a work event. Work Design organizes the definition of work into four axes: the human context; business concerns ranging from processes to performance metrics; technology, tools and infrastructure; and data and information.

  • Beyond Business Process Design: In addition to concerns for efficiency and quality is a larger operating landscape of opportunity that includes policy, regulation, organization, and other business concerns.
  • Human as Inspiration, not Obstacle: No longer a hurdle of ineffective change management and training expense, when seeking better ways to operate the human context of work is a rich source of insight and opportunity.
  • Mechanical Possibilities, and Limitations: Technology hardware, software, tools, infrastructure and equipment are deployed with careful consideration for human operators, business objectives and the influence of data on the minute-by-minute execution of work.
  • Data, alive in the moment: Once the record of how work was executed – the tea leaves predicting the future — data is now an active, minute by minute participant in business operations.

We can’t chart our post-pandemic operations strategies without placing the worker and our workforce front and center in those plans.


What is Seeing Business®?

Traditional enterprise process diagrams don’t accurately reflect how work really happens. Zenda’s designers visualize how the event of work happens across all four dimensions of work: business, human, technology, data. Stakeholders can see how work truly transpires, understand why, and design transformative futures. Zenda’s operation models become:

  • A blueprint for transformation
  • A project communication nexus among all stakeholders
  • Evidence and validation
  • An actionable roadmap that informs the design of improved tools, methods and technologies that transform business through a deep understanding of the human context of work.

There is no 'user,' only 'people.'  The term user assumes too much — that a design has already captured an individual’s attention and has committed them to a connection with that device. The term user potentially ignores the larger human context in which a design must live. User focuses on an individual and their interaction with a design at the risk of ignoring critical understanding of a broader human context. Zenda's operation models portray the whole human-centered event of work.

Work happens differently than you think, Zenda is unique in that they sit with the people doing the work and actually see what they are doing. Zenda discovers opportunities in the human context of business.


What We Do


Problem Validation

With fresh eyes, Zenda designers see into the white space of a work event. Workers often create subroutines (raise your hand if Excel is creating a compliance risk?) in order to get work done, masking underlying problems. Zenda deploys behavioral scientists and designers into the physical work environment to identify patterns of human behavior, to detect and define the root problems that cause process breaks. A deeper understanding of the human workforce driving your business, and their workarounds, provides an actionable roadmap - a transformation plan.


Operational Modeling - Design Driven Process Design

Zenda adds the missing human dimension to process and system modeling.

Model making is central to the design process. Beyond swim lanes, process flow diagrams and journey mapping, Zenda designers create a visual model which details all dimensions of your work environment in a single picture. Seeing the relationship among business processes, technology, data and the human workforce drives the discovery of opportunities, the identification of risks and the exploration of new operating strategies.

Our clients have never seen their operation like this before – a single expression of business operations that brings the multi-disciplinary team into a single, clear explanation of the multi-dimensional work event.


Digital Tool Design

The best digital experiences happen when designers focus on the person for whom a tool is intended. Zenda designers balance human insights with an appreciation for the capabilities and limitations of platforms and systems. We work side by side with technologists to make the most of each situation.

Our experience in software design extends back more than thirty years — before terms like UI, UX, XD were coined. Before they were called users, we knew them as people — human beings working in a human context.


Product Evaluation

Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) solutions are typically evaluated based on functionality, without an understanding of how the product will actually perform in the hands of employees. Effective use usually requires training and change management investment - and risk. Zenda brings new evaluation criteria into the COTS selection process, allowing our clients to mitigate the risks associated with excessive customization, inaccurate configuration and poor workforce adoption.

Our clients get greater value and better service from COTS vendors by bringing a concern for the human context of work to their platform purchase, configuration and adoption strategies.


Capability Building

Every project is an opportunity for our client partners to learn and grow. Working shoulder to shoulder with Zenda's designers provides clients with the unique opportunity to learn new skills and methods and to expand their ability to positively impact their own organization long into the future.

Every engagement is an opportunity for Zenda's client partners to transform how they understand problems, to discover opportunities and to explore solutions.


Increase the Consulting Firm's Value

Zenda's designers have worked shoulder to shoulder with the largest consulting firms out there — even those that have acquired and built their own design teams. Clients find Zenda designers a powerful bridge between their consulting partner's 'best practices' and their own company's unique challenges, opportunities, culture and workforce characteristics.


How We Do It


Leverage Client Expertise

"In what verticals are you specialized?"

We hear this a lot. Businesses are used to seeking guidance from consulting partners whose latest project has become their 'expertise' in that vertical. At Zenda, we know that our clients' experiences in their business makes them experts. We combine our expertise in understanding the human context of work with our clients' expertise in their business. This is a powerful combination.

We know that no two workforces are the same — even if they are direct competitors in the same vertical!

Our design team has paired with our client experts in verticals ranging from energy grid management and investment banking to food service, healthcare, government and more.


Plan, Observe, and Listen

Zenda's designers and behavioral scientists observe business operations to gain a clear understanding of both what workers are doing, and why? Zenda's fresh, objective perspective, paired with our clients' expertise, reveal insights and discoveries from within the context of work — reframing problems to create transformational opportunities.

Zenda's professionals deliver expanded opportunities to the creation of new business processes and systems.


Design (v.)

The foundation of everything we do at Zenda is design process — a centuries old method of problem definition, solution exploration, testing and execution — led by design professionals. Unlike popular and over-simplified Design Thinking trends Zenda's design professionals bring clients into a comprehensive design process that delivers tactical results.

Working with Zenda designers, the engagement may include:

- Contextual Inquiry / Ethnographic Research

- Behavioral / Cognitive Assessment

- Workshops and Co-design Sessions

- Agile / Rapid Solution Exploration

- Operation Modeling

- User Interface / Experience Design

- In-context and Lab-based Testing

The human aspect of a business process is much more complex than a persona. Understanding the ‘workarounds’ our employees invented provided a roadmap to a transformation plan. Change management is a band-aid, not a solution.


Flexible and Impactful

Design's role in the deployment of usable software within the business enterprise is well understood. Design's role in the evaluation and definition of enterprise operations is a new concept in many organizations. For this reason, we must be flexible in how we engage, and deliver value in every engagement.

  • Let us earn your trust: Our longest client relationships began with small budgets and a promise to deliver impact.  We'll work with you to identify a proof-of-concept and show you how we work and the value that designers can deliver.
  • Jump right in: Whether the project is in planning stages or the train left the station months ago, Zenda's designers know how to employ the right techniques for every situation, to effectively bring client partners into their work and to deliver measurable impact.
  • Teamwork: The best designers are great communicators who welcome the opportunity to unify disparate voices and agendas. Diverse client stakeholders, consulting partners and workforce members are welcome project partners and collaborators.
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