How to avoid the one pitfall that traps companies grappling with change

Fjord Family

By Inaki Amate, Managing Director, Fjord Hong Kong

Most businesses are grappling with how to keep up with change – new competitors with faster, better services are rewriting the rules of many industries. The solution often bandied about is to use design thinking to bring user-led innovation to market fast. But that’s not easy.

First off, what is design thinking?

Design thinking begins with putting the end user first and then finding out their needs. It emphasises rapid prototyping, testing and gathering user feedback. It is a methodology that became popularised in the late 1990s in design and innovation circles but has recently gone mainstream among business chiefs who are under pressure to innovate fast or be disrupted. It can be used for anything from making a software solution more user friendly to reinventing the patient care journey for a hospital.

For most organisations, though, it is a fundamentally new way of thinking: one that is highly collaborative, human-centred, exploratory and iterative. And while design thinking is important, it is only the beginning: a catalyst.

Just as important is how an organisation puts this theory into practise – in other words “design doing”. There has been a lot of recent talk of design thinking; many organisations have appointed chief design officers, acquired design agencies, and set up internal design teams and innovation hubs, hackathons, start-up collaborations and co-creation workshops. But effective innovation at scale depends on more.

Organisations need to live and breathe innovation across the entire business for it to be effective. We invite companies to work with us in our Interactive Studios in Quarry Bay so that thy see and feel how we embed design thinking into our culture.

Consider companies putting this into practise. At financial software giant Intuit, a design for delight programme involved training and cultivating a community of 200 innovators – which ran 1,000-plus workshops over five years to change the way people work across every function – in pursuit of creating new and innovative products for Intuit’s customers. By becoming design-driven, Intuit shifted from what one senior executive has described as “the best-run, no-growth company in the Valley” to “a 30-year-old start-up”. And revenue was US$4.7 billion for the year in July 2016 – up 12 per cent.

At Ford, everyone – from first-year, entry-level research assistant to managing directors – can now bring an idea to the company, have it heard and get it patented as part of an initiative that has tripled the number of inventions the company has received from across its business since 2012. If Ford sees value in an idea, it will help an employee turn it into reality, providing a three-month subscription to TechShop, an open access workshop studio, to encourage the employee to prototype the new idea. In 2015, its employees submitted 6,000 ideas for patent consideration, up from 4,000 the year before.

Read the full article at South China Morning Post

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