Greg Carley

Design bootcamp: 100 days to bring design within an organization

Never have people been more influential to a business’s success. To remain competitive in this reality, savvy leaders are building design capability within their business so that they can rely less on external partners to deliver people-centric innovation to market.  

Drawing on our experience, we’ve honed three approaches to helping clients develop their design potential, which we detail in a new report, “Design from within: How to build internal teams to design and innovate.”  

 Here, we’ll explore the second of those three approaches: Design bootcamp. 

What’s in it for the client? 

A Design Bootcamp is a brief, intense and immersive engagement, where we work with the client through a design process to solve a specific problem we’ve identified together. Our experience tells us that a bootcamp lasting 100 days is long enough to get meaningful work done, and short enough to stimulate a nimble start-up pace. 

Immersing people in a Service Design process for 100 days is by far the most effective method for grounding a deep understanding into its benefits and methodologies. We’ve found that people derive a strong sense of satisfaction and inspiration from having achieved something creative and rewarding within this timeframe.  

It’s become far too common for large organizations to work in silos, with teams working in isolation and handing on their work when they must. A Design Bootcamp advocates co-creation, with multi-disciplinary teams working together toward their shared goal. 100 days is enough to trigger new habits and attitudes that encourage collaboration and break down boundaries between departments.  

Beyond bootcamp 

Clients have cited encouraging moments in which their participants have brought what they learned at Design Bootcamp into their everyday work, and to great benefit both to the organization and to the people and companies with whom they do business. 

One purchasing department employee at a global automobile manufacturer was overheard discussing how his Fjord Design Bootcamp experience had shaped his thinking and actions when dealing with a supplier. It was plain that smaller suppliers like the one in question struggled to manage the complex procurement policies his employer had put in place. He empathized, understood the issue, and identified the processes he could change, achieving a more efficient and less stressful interaction for both parties.  

We’ve come to celebrate the theatre of design thinking, not really the practical application of it. The 100 days is about discovering what kind of impact we can instigate at the core. Where it’s hard. Can we change businesses models, change culture, change the ways people work, and change how we think about our roles. It’s about changing a lot, and changing things painfully. 

Change is good 

One of the challenges of the Design Bootcamp is handling fear-induced rebellion. If participants are cautious about the notion of changing their ways of working, they can initially put up a bit of resistance. We find this moment passes quickly, and when people are persuaded to give this radically new approach a shot, they start to formulate a new and more positive attitude to change.  

If our organizations are to survive the ever-evolving environment in which we operate, we can’t avoid change. So why not turn it around, and make change a vehicle for our own benefit? Design Bootcamp can teach participants to seek opportunity in the unknown and to embrace new ways of thinking and working together.  

We encourage our clients to select their more vocal colleagues for the bootcamp, as these are the people more likely to become advocates for design thinking and our Service Design methodologies. Their conversations can seed a broad cultural change throughout the organization. 

The full report gives more detail on each of the three approaches, their unique features and benefits. The other two approaches are Setting up shop and Taking Fjord within. 

Setting up shop 

This is when we work alongside our client to build their new design studio or innovation hub – powered by their own people, processes and technology. 

Taking Fjord within 

This is when we set up a Fjord-led design studio within a client’s organization, taking full responsibility for all the client’s design and digital requirements.  

Greg Carley

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