Harvard Business Review recently invested some time in exploring the evolution of design thinking. The topics included organizational change, culture, innovation and strategy. While design thinking is not a new concept, a lot of companies are still learning how to deal with the challenges they face when taking on a large design initiative. At Rightpoint, we look at design through the lens of digital transformation, and regularly work with companies facing the implementation of a whole new strategy.
The Big Takeaway
What I took away from the HBR perspective on design thinking is that now, more than ever, companies need to be incorporating change enablement in their projects. Without change enablement, design thinking initiatives fall on the innovation floor, wasting millions, even billions, of dollars. In fact, according to HBR, only 30% of companies taking on a change initiative will be successful, and design projects are no different. Some common pitfalls that I see in design initiatives include:
· Organizational readiness – leadership cannot wrap their heads around a concept that is so future thinking
· Stakeholder engagement – the c-suite and project leaders are on board, but when it comes to getting a strategy off the ground stakeholders put up a fight on taking the next steps
· Communications – the organization is not aware of what is happening, why the innovation matters to the company, and most importantly why they should care in the first place
· Reward systems – the organization doesn’t invest in rewarding behavior when employees use or take part in the new innovation
Change Enablement Is Here to Help
Luckily for passionate designers and initiative leaders who want to see their strategy be successful, there are a handful of things that can be done to help increase the likelihood of success. Here is what we recommend:
Get People Engaged Early and Often
It is never too soon to start working with various levels of the organization to vet ideas, share stories, ask for opinions on how the implementation will impact work, capture risks or just share the journey. By the time the design strategy comes to life, everyone in the organization should already understand what is happening and why. Would Apple release a new iPhone without sharing some of its new features and functionalities? Probably not, and neither should your organization if it’s bringing innovation to life.
Communicate and Educate
And that means with everyone. Blasting a company email is one thing, but it is quite another to communicate to an entire organization about a design strategy. Start simple by explaining the “why.” Hit all of the formal and information channels that are available to you. As you come closer to launch, share more and more information and be targeted with your message. Also think about how you can provide informal education in the way of gamification, social and media. Make it relevant, useful and available when the people need the information most. It’s all about personalization, and communications and education are no different.
Reward, Highlight and Encourage New Behavior
One of the most critical steps to bringing design thinking to life is incentivizing new behavior. Depending on your company’s culture you can offer incentives in the way of bonuses, recognition, performance reviews, decision making, communications, information conversation, a high five, and the list goes on. The key to making the incentive successful is to isolate the key behaviors you want to see change and stay focused.
Tackle Your Initiative the Right Way
Taking on a design initiative is exciting. However, make no mistake, it requires design and change enablement. If you tackle just a few of the strategies above, you will soon join the ranks of the great successful design initiatives.