Time to Re-Think Design Thinking

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The Huffington Post by Olof Schybergson, CEO and Shelley Evenson, Head Of Organizational Evolution At Fjord, Design and Innovation From Accenture Interactive

Faced by growing competition and nimbler start-ups, many organizations are struggling. They suffer from a crisis of innovation. Unable to differentiate their brands, their products and their services in a digitally disruptive world, organizations’ future success depends on better managing and responding to change. Their very existence hinges on their ability to continuously and rapidly innovate. In order to do so successfully, they must place people at the heart of everything they do. They must harness the power of design.

Business leaders once distinguished business strategy from customer experience but, today, that mindset is changing: business strategy has become experience strategy. In fact, 89% of companies recently surveyed by Gartner claim that experience will be their primary basis for competitive advantage this year.

These shifts, along with growing evidence that design-centric companies are outperforming the market average, are fueling private and public sector interest in design – an agile and collaborative discipline that enables human-centered innovation to be brought to market, fast. The appetite for design thinking to reframe experience has never been greater.

More corporations are opening their eyes to the power of design thinking as a way to solve the crisis of innovation. They see disruptive companies like AirBnB getthis. But misguided efforts — however well-intentioned — may do more harm than good. The truth is, design thinking has become broken in today’s digital age. The current interpretation of design thinking is often shallow and, as widely understood, not the answer. Simply put, design thinking is not enough. True success comes from building a complete design system, and no organization can build such a system on design thinking alone.

Here’s how to do it.

The Design Rule of 3

The fact is, design thinking only has value when combined with design doing and supported by a strong design culture. You can’t be good at only one or two. The Design Rule of 3 constitutes the three fundamental rules that underpin every successful design system employed by leading organizations, across sectors. When optimized and deployed in unison, organizations can effectively unlock the full potential of design to transform not only their own value and performance but peoples’ experiences of the products or services they provide.

Re-Thinking Design Thinking

Design thinking should bring a quest for truth, empathy with people, and a systematic reframing of the business challenge—zooming in and out of the opportunity space, and providing a strategic compass to help executives understand how to reorient their businesses.

Co-creation has to be integral. An organization must be willing and able to break down organizational silos to enable it. Fundamentally, design thinking must align a design perspective with business realities and technical possibilities.

Key Tenets of Modern-Day Design Thinking:

  1. Co-Creation
  2. Top Down, Bottom Up
  3. Design Prototyping
  4. Continuous Feedback & Testing

Measuring customer delight is essential, by employing Net Promoter Score (NPS) or an equivalent. At Fjord, we use our research-based Love Index to quantify and understand people’s engagement. The Love Index is an actionable tool that allows you to understand what people feel about your offering, and why.Mastery requires both C-suite and grassroots support; this simultaneous top-down and bottom-up commitment is essential for design thinking to become broadly embedded across an organization. Staff training and “learning by doing” project-based experiences will help get you there.

Crucially, successful design thinking must also include an element of making – early experience prototypes are important to validate thinking and align teams. Proponents of design thinking often get caught up in the methodologies (“how to get there”) versus the actual destination. Hands-on creation is often forgotten in today’s rush to apply design thinking organization-wide.

Financial software giant Intuit is a powerful example of an organization that has optimized design thinking and the context in which it lives.

Read the full article in The Huffington Post

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