How to shape design systems culture

This is a preliminary post for the Design System culture series

Budi Tanrim
2 min readSep 20, 2021
Design All-Hands

When I led a design system effort in 2019 for Bukalapak, one of the biggest e-commerce in Indonesia, I quickly learned that design systems would not evolve without healthy culture. I also learned that…

  • A pattern library without any participation from the community is pretty much useless.
  • Pursuing consistency is an inaccurate goal that fosters a wrong mindset within the team. It can create a culture where people would just use whatever exists on the system without being critical.
  • A set of principle is simply meaningless if the team doesn’t practice and challenge it from time to time. In the end, principles are man-made.

Fast forward to 2020, we were being intentional to design the contribution experience and significantly increased the contribution. The team has a federated model and everyone is proactively contributing to the design systems. By the time I left Bukalapak, we increased the contribution significantly. The culture shifted a little from passively participating to be proactive participation from everyone.

Right now, I’m leading the design system effort in the Education public sector. Learned from my previous experience, I wanted to experiment with a new approach. To start to build community participation around the system from the get-go.

So far, everyone is already participating even before we completed the basic UI kits. A healthy culture of the design systems is at the heart of successful design systems.

This short series will discuss a few strategies and models you can exercise to shape a healthy design systems culture in your team:

  • Intro: How to shape your design systems culture
  • #1: LEGO Kits Syndrome
  • #2: The BNARL model
  • #3: From BNARL to interventions
  • #4: The Pattern Friday as Ritual
  • #5: How to Facilitate a Pattern Friday?
  • #6: A Case Study: Bukalapak 2019
  • #7: A Small Team Case Study: Indonesia Education Civic Tech 2021



Budi Tanrim

I’m a Group Product Manager who works in GovTech. I share practical ideas and frameworks about product, design, and business.