Adapting a Design First Mindset – The Key To Innovation

31 May 2017 by Shivam Sahai No comments
Design First Thinking

Back in July 2016, Forrester’s CX research group published a paper exploring the hypothesis that embedding design practices in digital CX strategy creates a tangible and measurable business advantage.

It was an exhaustive research which surveyed 399 digital Customer Experience (CX) decision-makers at enterprises in the US, the UK, France, Germany, South Korea, Australia/New Zealand and Japan. The quantitative approach was complemented with qualitative interviews with CX practitioners during the research.

To cut it straight, the results confirmed the business advantage proposition with three key findings.

This blog isn’t my commentary on this claim. Rather, this is my take on how a design-led mindset can be key to innovation from a consultant’s point of view. My insights aren’t based on formal surveys or interviews. This is what I have learnt by working with companies of all sizes and varied organizational mind-sets during my career as a consultant.

So, why a design-led mindset is key to innovation for companies of all sizes?

Design-first mindset amasses data critical to Innovation

Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results. What’s relevant or meaningful depends on who you are; whether you are startup or an established enterprise. In either case, you’ve got to have data that leads you to innovate.

Most of all, this is where a design-led mindset gives you an advantage. Design thinking builds data from qualitative & quantitative research and puts all of it at the centre-stage for the company. I have seen many examples where such empathy-rich data has been the source of new ideas, inspiration that leads to innovation. Here’s just one of the example of how design thinking led to a radical pivot in product strategy for a startup.

Design-led mindset keeps your innovation-muscle flexible

I have seen this more relevant to established enterprises where products products turn behemoth over a period of time. These products scale in all directions under silo-directions from many product owners. Even though, such companies grow in revenues for a period of time, at a certain point they become too stiff to pump fresh ideas into their products. What I have seen most useful for such enterprises is to seek external agencies that can bring fresh perspective and ideas to the table. So this external agency can think unbiased, fresh and question the pre-conceived ideas within established enterprises. I’ve seen such engagement model do wonders for enterprises in flexing their innovation quotient.

Design-led mindset internalizes empathy as a core ingredient to Innovation

Innovation isn’t just the job of a company founder or a specific department. A key differentiator of design thinking is it’s ability to nurture collaboration. Whether through design sprints or other participatory techniques, design thinking fosters innovation from anyone in the company. As a result, everyone gets at the same place, in the same room and facilitate a way of thinking that spawns new ideas and converges varied perspectives into a meaningful direction. At the end of the day, everyone within an organization ends up embracing deep empathy for the customers. A key ingredient to create differentiated products and services in today’s experience economy. Finally, it helps in driving innovation and positive business outcomes.

Shivam Sahai

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