Disrupt yourself or be disrupted.

Disrupt yourself or be disrupted.

By Chris Furnell

I’d encourage HR to park their desire for adopting disruptive behavior for a moment and think of organizational performance in a more holistic and connected sense. The employee or consumer experience is not growing to change just because HR want to be disruptive.


Instead I encourage you to use your energy to think about how to assist the organization to design for adaptability and innovation. I suggest a focus on:


Design thinking.

You’re implementing a new HRIS and are stood in front of a glass room, it’s divided by a partition. In one section, four people from your HR team. In the other, four employees from across the organization.

In the first room, a debate concludes with three key project considerations: smooth migration from existing to new, strong governance with key stakeholders, an alphabetical catalogue to aid navigation. In the second room a flipchart also lists three things: ensure I get paid on time, easy to book my holidays, easy password reset option.

In short, HR need to develop critical skills in design thinking, where product development lifecycles are used as frequently as employee lifecycles. We’d do well to better balance the focus of conversation at the canteen table, versus exec table. Be at one with the user experience and build things from your user backwards.

In the product development world, perfection doesn’t fall from a tree. Silver bullets don’t exist.

Design thinking requires humility, creativity, critical thinking and a great set of questions. It requires a refocus for HR to first empathize with the user experience, chunk a detailed task list into sprints, all before discussing who has the energy and skillset to do it. It requires a constant state of adaptability and iteration; strong analytical skills mashed with a good portion of intuition.

There are many examples like the HRIS glass room scenario. And it’s not unique to HR. With a function that’s responsible for personal details, paying people and deeply sensitive matters, the pressure to ‘get it right first time’ can lead to silos; both in physical terms but also in disconnected thinking.

Yes, the HRIS needs to be right, but let’s challenge what’s meant by first time. Take the true lessons from product development and Agile. It’s easier than you think, but the first thing is to cease your search for a silver bullet. There’s never been a more important time to start your experiment: what if you integrated the product development lifecycle with your focus on employee lifecycle?

Life beyond the functional specialist.

And now to shift from you, to others within the organisation.

I’m sure your smart phone is close, punch into Google ‘my job is’. It’s perhaps the fastest employee survey you could do. An algorithm that highlights the way work is currently designed ruins relationships and life. A tired model where we recruit for suitability to role, issue a job description and fit people into a box. We welcome people returning from maternity leave by ticking the boxes on a return to work form, failing to acknowledge or utilise the new skills they have honed during the past year. The algorithm is enhanced as the employee approaches the end of year; awaiting a conversation which looks back and classifies the good, bad and ugly, often taken by surprise with feedback on ‘opportunities’ to develop.

There is life beyond the functional specialist, where people choose to do their own thing, their own way.

In this life, it’s human centred. An individual owns the design of their own work. In a world powered by AI, they bid for what they want to work on, and come together to work in diverse project teams. Up pops a hand as someone has the energy to lead this piece of work, no bosses in sight. A backlog is created, and people get to work on stuff that brings them alive and utilises all their skills, not limited to a job description. When the team disbands, a period of reflection ensues; lessons from mistakes, including new skills and experiences, are carried forward. This is a place where people are always evolving, always learning and it happens with variety and collaboration in abundant supply and demand. It’s perfectly scalable for front line operational and specialist support work.

It’s a shift from variety by chance, to variety by design.

You already have a limitless supply of hidden talent, but existing demand is in the form of a boxed job, rather than fluid, energizing work. In its current design, work is often shallow, repetitive and unstimulating. The test? Ask a colleague: when was the last time you truly lost yourself in an aspect of work? The pause for them to have to think of an occasion speaks volumes.

Empathize with one of your colleagues for a moment: under what circumstances do you commit so seriously that it pushes your mental energy? The emotional commitment that flows from someone saying hey, you’re the right person for this, I trust you. Or taking a personal risk, because your intuition drives you with enough self-belief to say, I’ll do it, I’ve got an idea.

Variety by design is a place that requires you to cultivate communities of practice; vast networks of knowledge, expertise and energy. This is the only type of structure that innovation requires.

So, how do you let go, and stop defining people’s capabilities by job descriptions?

How do you create a fire of innovation and imagination, where variety and collaboration is the fuel?

How do you embrace life beyond the functional specialist?

Stewarding a responsive organization.

And finally, the organization as a whole system.

Frederic Laloux has shown us that adaptability and innovation requires the organization to shift from predict-and-control to sense-and-respond. When we try to predict the future, we stop listening to reality, he describes.

Here’s the difficult part: drop the rigid planning.

We spread resource over time to support the delivery of a three or five year plan. Little room is left for true innovation, although people are encouraged to think differently, but the destination, timeline, method and resources are all set out.

I’m not denying the fundamental need for a sense of purpose or direction of travel. Brian Robertson’s analogy is a good one, but in my own words: if I jumped on my bicycle, I am consciously in tune with everything, sensing and responding to obstacles. I know where I’m heading, but who knows what lay on the path ahead.

I’d guess every reader of this can see 12 months ahead at best, anything beyond this becomes guess work or ego-driven planning, riddled with assumptions.

The intensity and pace that start-ups can scale up in this age is exhilarating. Think of a selection of companies that have truly disrupted industries in recent years. They didn’t set out a five-year plan and stick to rigid ways. Salim Ismail gives a fascinating account in his book ‘Exponential Organizations’.

Ismail writes: the only solution is to establish a massive transformative purpose (MTP), set a fluid structure, implement a one-year plan (at most) and watch it all scale while course-correcting in real time.

Perry Timms encourages HR professionals to strengthen their contextual intelligence and external vigilance. In his book ‘Transformational HR’, he states the need to free ourselves from existing limitations of focusing on the people stuff; go high and wide and think more holistically.

If HR are to assist in this stewardship, it must adopt a different mindset. The role needs to evolve beyond process implementation or law-guiding advice. There are examples of processes that were written years ago, yet the organisation has evolved and outgrown them. How are you sustaining pace, relevance and credibility?

Beyond process, we need to help people to strengthen critical thinking, creativity, confidence and courage. We need to create a space where someone can experiment with an alternative bicycle or even specific part. What’s preventing people from doing this now? With the focus on rigid planning, how does bureaucracy manifest itself and cause you self-sabotage? Where is this preventing innovation and adaptability?

Key takeaways.

Innovation is a lonely place, you’re always looking around wondering why more people aren’t there.

In an uncertain world, we spend hours wondering what others are doing, fearful of being the first. In the absence of design thinking skills, many lack confidence to experiment; not just with thinking, but testing something completely new, iterating and continually developing. When we think transformation, we think big, forgetting that small test and learn concepts enable greater scalability.

When under pressure, we rely on what got us here, although deep down beyond bias, know it won’t always get us to where we need to be.

It’s time to redesign your system beyond the functional specialist; a people-infrastructure built on variety and collaboration.

It’s time to look inward on the mindset and skillset required to steward the organisation to true responsiveness, without the reliance on a rigid plan.

Designing for adaptability and innovation is no longer optional.

Management Transformation by Design.

Management Transformation by Design.

Leveraging design as a method to lead a transformation process in the management and leadership of companies is always a more efficient and successful way to achieve an organization’s business goals.Let’s break down the different factors of management and design, to understand the overlapping space between these two terms.

Why Design & Management?

First, let’s define what Design is. The word “design” is overused in many organizations with a lot ambiguities and misinterpretations. The word Design, if not contextualized (ie: visual design, business design, product design, etc..), has a very holistic meaning in the way it solves system-based problems both when we refer to a Product as a system of characteristics, material, production process, etc.., as well when we consider an Organization as a system of people, services, outcomes, etc..

“Design-Thinking today has become a marketing term, more often used as a business product to sell workshops to teach people how to work together, how to share knowledge, and more. Let’s leave this brand/definition out of this conversation. (pls)”

Instead, let’s talk of Design as “a way of thinking,” or how I prefer to simplify it, “as a way to make choices and/or actions,” an operative protocol, replicable, scalable and measurable.

Design as a roundtrip journey.

Design is a roundtrip journey, often forgotten, with two distinct journeys:1 — A journey to a destination (seek a vision & frame the problem) — This process is all about discovering how to add value to the system, along a path made by ideas, prototypes, mistakes, failures, successes, learning, discovery, etc..

2 — A journey to back home (Make the vision happen & solve the problem) — A process all about how to change the system to lead to the new value, along a path by open minds, re-framing, re-organizing, educating, etc…

Here is where Design becomes helpful in management (as a system) transformation.

About Management & Organizations.

According to Frederic Laloux, the author of Reinventing Organizations: A Guide for Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness, “The days of the top-down hierarchy as the dominant organizational framework are numbered. Despite its continued preference by the current power elite, the bureaucratic management model is rapidly becoming both limited and obsolete now that the technology revolution has spawned a major inflection point in human history by unleashing the extraordinary and unstoppable phenomenon of distributed intelligence.”Using a color-coded typology inspired by the work of Clare Graves, and made popular by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan in their book Spiral Dynamics, Laloux outlines the evolution of four types of organizations over the last ten millennia and describes in detail the attributes and characteristics of a fifth and radically different emerging new organizational form.

Organization type — colors characteristics

Each form of organization has different behaviors, systems and assumptions. The first four (Red, Amber, Orange and Green) are considered the historical types. From Red to Green, the quantity of bosses decreases progressively.The Teal organization is a revolutionary new management model that operates from the premise that organizations should be viewed as living organisms, and therefore, function more like complex adaptive systems than machines. Accordingly, this organizational form is a structure of flexible and fluid peer relationships in which work is accomplished through self-managed teams. In Teal organizations, there are no layers of middle management, very little staff, and very few rules or control mechanisms. Instead of reporting to single supervisors, people are accountable to the members of their teams for accomplishing self-organized collective goals. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the elimination of controlling bosses typically enables a better controlled organization because, Laloux points out, “peer pressure regulates the system better than hierarchy ever could.”

Current Management & Organization Scenarios

Thanks to the Internet, there’s a new worldview, and it is revolutionizing the way we build organizations. Through dynamics, behaviors and complex system patterns we learn everyday by seeing platforms such as Amazon, Google or Facebook working and interacting with a distributed form of knowledge and consciousness, which are becoming more and more common in the management of any company.Of course, each modern company / organization never fits completely into a specific color type, but we can identify each management system as a combination of colors as shown below (example of companies A, B, C):

Challenges to Start Transformation & Changes

Initiating a transformation process in these complex scenarios can become a challenge.Management with a strong hierarchy is faster to transform (change the Head) but at the same time is extremely fragile and resilient to return to the original way of working and thinking at the first impediment. Management with highly distributed decision making power and self management requires a lot of time to make changes at the system level, and a lot of energy at the 1-to1 level to change perspectives, but is definitely more solid and responsive at any impediment during the change.Both require different strategies and processes, and both require consistency and a systematic approach. What works for one doesn’t work for the others, and a high level of transformation processes fail at this point.

How to Trigger Changes?

To trigger changes in these forms of sophisticated management organizations one must start with a change of the “way of thinking” for all the actors of the system. A collective change of the “way of thinking” not only triggers an organic “change of doing,” but empowers the bosses in that area of the company with a more hierarchical organization to change their groups, stimulating conversation and knowledge exchange.This ripple effect of external actions and the organic internal reactions, is the perfect way to approach this type of management structure with a hybrid form of organization.

Transformation by Design.

The transformation process is based on a basic cycle of three factors:

  1. Seed (open minds) — Introducing a new way of thinking, perspectives and everything else that’s inspiring; triggering new questions and identifying new opportunities.
  2. Define (How we work) — Re-frame what we do, what are the problems we are trying to solve and the solutions we can or should achieve.
  3. Test (what we do) — Translate on the business table the new way of working, how to sell, how to change day-by-day activities, etc..

Transformation Cycles

A systematic solution requires a systematic method. The scaling process will produce additional knowledge about the impact on the new organization’s system on the company’s business (re-frame). These discoveries will define the next scaling cycle strategy (new vision).Seeding, Defining and Testing are part of the incremental transformation cycle to scale up the new system:Cycle 1 = to see different ways to work in different contextsCycle 2 = to adjust and consolidateCycle 3 = to scale up

In the most sophisticated and autonomous area of the company the scaling cycle will impact with an increase of the frequency of changing behaviors, in the other areas more hierarchical, we will observe an increase in the size of the change behaviors.

Conclusion

Why do transformations by Design have a better impact on companies?Because they are inclusive, empathetic with each single member or the system, they are holistic, repeatable, scalable and measurable, but more importantly, they are focused not to design an outcome, but to design FOR an outcome, an outcome organically defined and owned by the organization itself.

David Kelley on the 8 Design Abilities of Creative Problem Solvers

David Kelley on the 8 Design Abilities of Creative Problem Solvers

“Wallowing in that state of not knowing is not easy, but it’s necessary.”—David Kelley


Since founding IDEO 40 years ago, David Kelley has never stopped pushing the boundaries of how design thinking could be used to navigate complex problems. He’s helped shape a culture at IDEO with a deep appreciation for using empathy to relate to people, designing small scrappy solutions to learn what works, and gradually iterating and upping the fidelity until an elegant and desirable solution is reached.

Over this time, forward-thinking CEOs and leaders looking to solve crazy challenges — think the future of mobility or how to educate a growing middle-class population in an emerging market — have been drawn to David’s pragmatic approach.

These leaders are increasingly very aware of the need for creative thinking as the level of uncertainty grows. David says “the number one strategic thing on their agenda is “How do I make my company more creative?”Historically, he’s led them to design thinking as a “way for companies to routinely come up with new-to-the-world ideas.”

But design thinking, like the scientific method, is a process, not a solution. The solution lies in developing the creative capabilities of people.Carissa Carter, director of teaching and learning at the Stanford d.school, says early practitioners often use design thinking like a recipe in a cookbook.

“The order and process of a recipe helps new cooks get started,” she says, “but it’s only with practice, inventiveness, experimentation, and constraints that you might begin to call yourself a chef.”

8 Core Design Abilities

David and his colleagues at the d.school are helping students develop a deeper appreciation of the eight core design abilities necessary to solve problems creatively and expertly maneuver within the design thinking methodology.

Navigate Ambiguity

The bedrock of the design abilities, those who are comfortable navigating ambiguity know that “if I’m going to get to a new place, I’m going to have to live in this state of feeling ambiguous about what’s going to happen.” Ambiguity arises when the problem is not well defined, which, David points out, is when many companies turn to IDEO and design thinking for help. You can only get comfortable with ambiguity from experience — having felt it before and knowing it turned out well. “Wallowing in that state of not knowing is not easy, but it’s necessary,” David says.

Learn from Others (People and Contexts)

There’s a general feeling these days that you have to do it all yourself. That if you just go back to your desk and work harder, that the solution will reveal itself. In design thinking, it’s critical to get over that fear of talking to others and shift to a mindset of learning from and with people. Better ideas come from working with others and being open to their improvements.“The main mistake I think we make in trying to innovate is we get wedded to our first ideas,” David says. Showing your ideas to others helps break through early cliched solutions and get to the real exciting stuff.

Build and Craft Things Intentionally

The best way to engage somebody is to show them something. It’s a skill to know the right time to share your ideas, how to be light and fast with how you build things, and to be comfortable with those ideas not being completely polished.When David’s students at Stanford were working on an interface for buying train tickets, they created a prototype that required users to press enter after each screen. It seemed like the obvious solution, but passengers really didn’t like it, which they only discovered by testing their prototype. “If you got to that point in the first week, you could fix it really easily. If you got to that point in the first year, it would already be baked in.”


“Storytelling has become one of the real skills designers have been building over the last few years”David Kelley


Communicate Deliberately

In David’s eyes, “in some ways, it’s our job as designers to paint a picture of the future with our ideas in it.” The ability to understand your audience and communicate your ideas in a way that will activate that audience is a skill that’s critical to a project’s success. In doing work for a hospital, for example, you may think of doctors and patients as your audience, but hospital administrators are the ones making purchase decisions.“Storytelling has become one of the real skills designers have been building over the last few years,” David says.

Design Your Design Work

Instead of thinking of a decision as work, if you think about it as a project and a design problem, you get to apply all the benefits design thinking. “Driving everything to be a project is another ability that is empowering to students and designers because once it’s a project we feel more comfortable,” David says.Three more design abilities — Synthesize Information, Experiment Rapidly, and Move Between Concrete and Abstract — round out the core skillset of a design thinking practitioner. Read more about each on the Stanford d.school’s site.

Human-Centered Thinking at the Leadership Level

As mentioned above, David has worked with many of the world’s most innovative leaders and developed friendships with them in turn. He often provides advice and council and values these relationships for the many lessons he’s learned as well.How these leaders are utilizing design thinking can give valuable insight into ways you can apply the methodology in your own workplace.

Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford, and David set up a wormhole for direct access to each other. Jim often turns to David for advice on hiring the right people to lead human-centered design work.

Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor, Peruvian entrepreneur and CEO of Intercorp, embodies a growth mindset and appreciation for creativity. “He believes that working harder is the way to come up with good ideas,” David says. “And he’s right.” The challenges he’s working on — poverty, education — are “so big they hurt your head.” David sees Rodriguez-Pastor’s ability to break large problems down into smaller ones where progress can be made as a key factor in his success.

For those looking to engage senior leadership in a discussion around design thinking, David’s advice is to first understand what is meaningful to these leaders and then see how design thinking can help them make progress toward those goals. Today’s leaders are looking to build innovation engines within their companies — so help them do that. Begin putting some ideas on the shelf and be ready to go when they’re inevitably needed in the future.

Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate

Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate

Oct 9, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.

By Bryan Walker and Sarah A. Soule

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

Culture is like the wind. It is invisible, yet its effect can be seen and felt. When it is blowing in your direction, it makes for smooth sailing. When it is blowing against you, everything is more difficult.

For organizations seeking to become more adaptive and innovative, culture change is often the most challenging part of the transformation. Innovation demands new behaviors from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency.

But culture change can’t be achieved through top-down mandate. It lives in the collective hearts and habits of people and their shared perception of “how things are done around here.” Someone with authority can demand compliance, but they can’t dictate optimism, trust, conviction, or creativity.

We believe that the most significant change often comes through social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.

Dr. Reddy’s: A Movement-Minded Case Study

One leader who understands this well is G.V. Prasad, CEO of Dr. Reddy’s, a 33-year-old global pharmaceutical company headquartered in India that produces affordable generic medication. With the company’s more than seven distinct business units operating in 27 countries and more than 20,000 employees, decision making had grown more convoluted and branches of the organization had become misaligned. Over the years, Dr. Reddy’s had built in lots of procedures, and for many good reasons. But those procedures had also slowed the company down.

Prasad sought to evolve Dr. Reddy’s culture to be nimble, innovative, and patient-centered. He knew it required a journey to align and galvanize all employees. His leadership team began with a search for purpose. Over the course of several months, the Dr. Reddy’s team worked to learn about the needs of everyone, from shop floor workers to scientists, external partners, and investors. Together they defined and distilled the purpose of the company, paring it down to four simple words that center on the patient: “Good health can’t wait.”

But instead of plastering this new slogan on motivational posters and repeating it in all-hands meetings, the leadership team began by quietly using it to start guiding their own decisions. The goal was to demonstrate this idea in action, not talk about it. Projects were selected across channels to highlight agility, innovation, and customer centricity. Product packaging was redesigned to be more user-friendly and increase adherence. A comprehensive internal data platform was developed to help Dr. Reddy’s employees be proactive with their customer requests and solve any problems in an agile way.

At this point it was time to more broadly share the stated purpose — first internally with all employees, and then externally with the world. At the internal launch event, Dr. Reddy’s employees learned about their purpose and were invited to be part of realizing it. Everyone was asked to make a personal promise about how they, in their current role, would contribute to “good health can’t wait.” The following day Dr. Reddy’s unveiled a new brand identity and website that publicly stated its purpose. Soon after, the company established two new “innovation studios” in Hyderabad and Mumbai to offer additional structural support to creativity within the company.

Prasad saw a change in the company culture right away:

After we introduced the idea of “good health can’t wait,” one of the scientists told me he developed a product in 15 days and broke every rule there was in the company. He was proudly stating that! Normally, just getting the raw materials would take him months, not to mention the rest of the process for making the medication. But he was acting on that urgency. And now he’s taking this lesson of being lean and applying it to all our procedures.

What Does a Movement Look Like?

To draw parallels between the journey of Dr. Reddy’s and a movement, we need to better understand movements.

We often think of movements as starting with a call to action. But movement research suggests that they actually start with emotion — a diffuse dissatisfaction with the status quo and a broad sense that the current institutions and power structures of the society will not address the problem. This brewing discontent turns into a movement when a voice arises that provides a positive vision and a path forward that’s within the power of the crowd.

What’s more, social movements typically start small. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. While these wins are small, they’re powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers. Eventually, in successful movements, leaders leverage their momentum and influence to institutionalize the change in the formal power structures and rules of society.

Practices for Leading a Cultural Movement

Leaders should not be too quick or simplistic in their translation of social movement dynamics into change management plans. That said, leaders can learn a lot from the practices of skillful movement makers.

Frame the issue. Successful leaders of movements are often masters of framing situations in terms that stir emotion and incite action. Framing can also apply social pressure to conform. For example, “Secondhand smoking kills. So shame on you for smoking around others.”

In terms of organizational culture change, simply explaining the need for change won’t cut it. Creating a sense of urgency is helpful, but can be short-lived. To harness people’s full, lasting commitment, they must feel a deep desire, and even responsibility, to change. A leader can do this by framing change within the organization’s purpose — the “why we exist” question. A good organizational purpose calls for the pursuit of greatness in service of others. It asks employees to be driven by more than personal gain. It gives meaning to work, conjures individual emotion, and incites collective action. Prasad framed Dr. Reddy’s transformation as the pursuit of “good health can’t wait.”

Demonstrate quick wins. Movement makers are very good at recognizing the power of celebrating small wins. Research has shown that demonstrating efficacy is one way that movements bring in people who are sympathetic but not yet mobilized to join.

When it comes to organizational culture change, leaders too often fall into the trap of declaring the culture shifts they hope to see. Instead, they need to spotlight examples of actions they hope to see more of within the culture. Sometimes, these examples already exist within the culture, but at a limited scale. Other times, they need to be created. When Prasad and his leadership team launched projects across key divisions, those projects served to demonstrate the efficacy of a nimble, innovative, and customer-centered way of working and of how pursuit of purpose could deliver outcomes the business cared about. Once these projects were far enough along, the Dr. Reddy’s leadership used them to help communicate their purpose and culture change ambitions.

Harness networks. Effective movement makers are extremely good at building coalitions, bridging disparate groups to form a larger and more diverse network that shares a common purpose. And effective movement makers know how to activate existing networks for their purposes. They also use social networks to spread ideas and broadcast their wins.

Leadership at Dr. Reddy’s did not hide in a back room and come up with their purpose. Over the course of several months, people from across the organization were engaged in the process. The approach was built on the belief that people are more apt to support what they have a stake in creating. And during the organization-wide launch event, Prasad invited all employees to make the purpose their own by defining how they personally would help deliver “good health can’t wait.”

Create safe havens. Movement makers are experts at creating or identifying spaces within which movement members can craft strategy and discuss tactics. These are spaces where the rules of engagement and behaviors of activists are different from those of the dominant culture. They’re microcosms of what the movement hopes will become the future.

The dominant culture and structure of today’s organizations are perfectly designed to produce their current behaviors and outcomes, regardless of whether those outcomes are the ones you want. If your hope is for individuals to act differently, it helps to change their surrounding conditions to be more supportive of the new behaviors. Outposts and labs are often built as new environments that serve as a microcosm for change. Dr. Reddy’s established two innovation labs to explore the future of medicine and create a space where it’s easier for people to embrace new beliefs and perform new behaviors.

Embrace symbols. Movement makers are experts at constructing and deploying symbols and costumes that simultaneously create a feeling of solidarity and demarcate who they are and what they stand for to the outside world. Symbols and costumes of solidarity help define the boundary between “us” and “them” for movements. These symbols can be as simple as a T-shirt, bumper sticker, or button supporting a general cause.

Dr. Reddy’s linked its change in culture and purpose with a new corporate brand identity. Internally and externally, the act reinforced a message of unity and commitment. The entire company stands together in pursuit of this purpose.

The Challenge to Leadership

Unlike a movement maker, an enterprise leader is often in a position of authority. They can mandate changes to the organization — and at times they should. However, when it comes to culture change, they should do so sparingly. It’s easy to overuse one’s authority in the hopes of accelerating transformation.

It’s also easy for an enterprise leader to shy away from organizational friction. Harmony is generally a preferred state, after all. And the success of an organizational transition is often judged by its seamlessness.

In a movements-based approach to change, a moderate amount of friction is positive. A complete absence of friction probably means that little is actually changing. Look for the places where the movement faces resistance and experiences friction. They often indicate where the dominant organizational design and culture may need to evolve.

And remember that culture change only happens when people take action. So start there. While articulating a mission and changing company structures are important, it’s often a more successful approach to tackle those sorts of issues after you’ve been able to show people the change you want to see.

The expanding role of design in creating an end-to-end customer experience

The expanding role of design in creating an end-to-end customer experience

Jul 10, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.

By By Raffaele Breschi, Tjark Freundt, Malin Orebäck, and Kai Vollhardt

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

Lines between products, services, and user environments are blurring. The ability to craft an integrated customer experience will open enormous opportunities to build new businesses.

Time was, a company could rely on a superior product’s features and functions to coast for a year or more before competitors could catch up. Or a well-honed service advantage could single-handedly buffer a company from start-up challengers looking to nip at its heels. No more. As digitization drives more and faster disruptions—and as customers increasingly desire the immediacy, personalization, and convenience of dealing with digital-marketing leaders—the business landscape is undergoing an upheaval.

Products, services, and environments—both physical and online—are converging to anticipate and meet rising customer expectations. That’s giving birth to a proliferation of new products, often from unexpected sources. It is also stirring up a storm of new, unanticipated competitors. In this novel mix, product companies will be pushed to create services and service providers to incorporate products into their offerings. Both will face the challenge of developing great user environments as part of customer-centric strategies.

The signs have been apparent for some time. Technologies regularly compound each other’s effects, with a dynamism and speed of innovation that has become unpredictable: for example, the combination of global positioning systems (GPS), radar, video object recognition, and infrared sensors gave birth to the development of self-driving cars. In smartphones, manufacturers once focused on features and functions as selling points. Today that emphasis has shifted completely to style, lifestyle, and simplicity of use. These permeate the customer experience and define the value proposition for such products.

This evolving convergence of products, services, and environments affects some industries more than others. Telecommunications, automotive, and consumer-product companies, for example, have already embarked on a convergence journey; other industries, such as insurance, banking, and energy, lag behind them. Understanding the way this phenomenon is taking shape can help companies prepare for the comopetitive opportunities and challenges.

A convergence triad

Three basic types of convergences reshaping the landscape for customer-centric strategies:

  • Traditional product companies are transforming themselves into providers of services and ecosystems. Some innovators, such as Rolls-Royce, some time ago moved beyond merely selling jet engines to selling engine hours in a lifetime service relationship with customers. Elevator operators, such as KONE, emphasize the number of floors their products will serve over time, not just their physical products. Microsoft Azure sells computing as a service, not as software; Philips is transforming the home-lighting business into a “connected business” to improve sustainability, cost of ownership, and smart control by integrating applications such as scene personalization, home automation, security services, and sleep quality into its core product.
  • Service companies are integrating physical products into their customer experience. Amazon’s Echo, for example, provides quick access to the company’s services. Evernote and Moleskine have collaborated to create notebooks that seamlessly integrate physical notes; capturing handwritten ones with the Evernote camera allows you to search and organize them digitally. Progressive Insurance’s connected-car devices allow the company to charge drivers according to their driving behavior.
  • Companies are investing to create a customer environment that builds a connection with their products. Online players such as Amazon open physical stores; car manufacturers (Tesla, for example) open fancy showrooms in shopping malls and prime locations, with a completely transformed customer experience. Electronics companies, like Apple, stage the customer experience with open-space concepts, a sprawling Genius Bar, and diverse sales staffs.

In essence, highly successful companies have realized that the boundaries between products, services, and environments have blurred. They know as well that they need an integrated view to design end-to-end experiences that are truly valuable to consumers and successful in the market. It’s not just about designing the best product or service but rather about striking the right combination and making sure the integrated customer experience is compelling. This kind of successful, convergence-designed strategy can deliver a durable competitive advantage. Done well, the strategy will also make implementation more intuitive for the company and more seamless for the customers who engage with the product or service. In this evolving environment, maintaining an integrated customer-experience perspective is necessary right from the beginning of any improvement or transformation effort.

Today’s consumers do not buy just products or services—more and more, their purchase decisions revolve around buying into an idea and an experience. This change in expectations will give product and service businesses opportunities to create new revenue streams by expanding into adjacent territories. Given these complexities, the shift also requires an innovative approach to business models and a new look at how companies provide value to customers.

Five principles of the design-led customer experience

Each company’s efforts to shape design-led experiences will unfold differently. But it is possible to draw lessons—several principles for shaping a design-led customer-experience strategy—from these examples, unique as they are. As companies increasingly turn to design strategies, it is helpful to keep the principles in mind to guide their efforts.

1. Understand the customer’s needs and perspectives. Companies often approach innovation from a technological point of view and already, at the outset, have strong ideas about what the solution should be. To arrive at a new, integrated solution that taps into the power of convergence, it’s better to start from a people perspective. Companies can begin to study key aspects of the customer’s experience and try to understand and resolve core pain points by answering a few questions:

  • What do customers really need, desire, and aspire to?
  • What are they trying to achieve by consuming a product or service?
  • What kinds of behavior are connected to the experience, natural or constructed?
  • What do customers think about the product, the service, and the experience? And why do they think the way they do?

Often a company ought to consider shifting its mind-set: away from a technological solution (“what product or service can we provide to the market?”) to a consumer-oriented one (“what customer needs do we aim to fulfill through this integrated solution?”). An unmet need, even if for the most part unexpressed, frequently turns out to be a company’s next business opportunity.

2. Draw inspiration from other industries. Companies increasingly look beyond existing industry boundaries and try to adopt better approaches from unrelated contexts. Some examples:

  • A hotel company that wanted to improve its customer experience drew inspiration from the world of senior-executive assistants. The company reasoned that the best assistants anticipate the needs of their executives, sometimes even before the executives are aware of those needs. By applying that principle to its customers, the hotel company emphasized service that anticipated their needs, as though it already knew even first-time visitors.
  • A software provider of e-trading platforms wanted to redesign its core product. When it decided which information to place centrally and which could be relegated to a peripheral view, it took a hard look at airplane cockpits.

3. Get a glimpse of what’s on the horizon. By definition, design is a creative and exploratory process. Looking into the future allows a team to project an industry’s circumstances as far as 15 to 20 years away by framing the landscape of products and services. The primary elements to consider are typically societal shifts, such as changes in behavior, demographics, and social norms, as well as technological improvements.

The exercise can also be useful with a much shorter time frame by projecting emergent trends that can already be observed to a certain degree: for example, the new EU payment directives in banking—PSD2—will remove the banks’ monopoly and allow nonbanking players to initiate payments and access account information. How will this change the landscape of the banking industry? What if you could use Facebook or Google to pay your bills? What about the effects on other industries? What new business opportunities could be created when these developments combine with other shifts that happen simultaneously?

4. Empower multidisciplinary teams. Designing a convergent, end-to-end customer experience requires the broad involvement of stakeholders across the organization and beyond. They will have expertise in fields such as design research, anthropology, and business, and spheres of influence, such as product development, marketing, or finance. Creating a multilayered experience requires a variety of design capabilities, such as designing products, services, user experiences, and interactivity. Such multidisciplinary teams can break through silos and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration. Decision makers from all stakeholder groups should align together and embrace uncertainty together, developing capabilities throughout the entire design process. The use of existing resources can keep the investment in time and costs low.

5. Use agile techniques to prototype experiences and business models. The challenge of mastering many convergent opportunities is that solutions often reside in complex ecosystems that either stand alone or depend on other, related systems. Think of air travel, for instance, as a combined experience of products, services, and environments. Despite this level of complexity, companies can achieve rapid progress through prototyping, which quickly brings to life new opportunities and perspectives for effective implementation.

An experience can be prototyped through simple cardboard models, role playing, or clickable digital prototypes. This approach focuses on eliminating mistakes and highlighting possibilities for further development. Alternative business models can be visualized and prototyped to explore where value is added, costs occur, and efficiencies or new revenue streams lie in wait. We find that it’s most efficient to iterate a prototype of the customer experience and the business model—these pilot efforts can secure the best outcomes before scaling. The goal should be managing prototypes in an agile way, through sprints and frequent feedback from users, with a focus on developing business value.


The convergence of products, services, and user environments is just taking flight. In this environment, large and unexpected business opportunities will appear, along with unlikely competitors. To prosper, companies must balance agile, design-led development processes with the continual redesign of customer journeys

More on Circular Economy: Use Waste to Build Capital

More on Circular Economy: Use Waste to Build Capital

Jun 12, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.

By Jennifer Gerholdt, Senior Director, Circular Economy and Sustainability Program, US Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

The circular economy – an economic model focused on designing and manufacturing products, components and materials for reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling – promises big opportunities for the private sector to drive new and better growth and accelerate innovation. Shifting to the circular economy could release $4.5 trillion in new economic potential by 2030, according to Accenture. But how do we take that vision of a circular economy – which imagines a world without waste – and translate that into profitable and scalable action?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center, a nonprofit organization driving the circular economy agenda in the US, is releasing a new report featuring case studies that illustrate how companies are translating their circular economy aspirations into action – and how that in turn drives greater resource productivity improvements, eliminates waste and inefficiency, and contributes to a stronger and more competitive economy.

Let’s take a look at some of the companies featured in the report.

Aramark: Reducing food waste

Food services provider Aramark has set a goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 from its 2015 baseline, such as by setting standards for ordering, receiving, preparing, serving and tracking food production. Through its partnership with food waste reduction experts LeanPath, Aramark is accelerating its waste prevention and minimization efforts by integrating LeanPath’s tracking and analytics technology platform into its largest 500 accounts. Since 2016, Aramark has rolled out LeanPath’s platform across 161 sites, slashing its food waste on average by 44% and reducing the amount sent to landfill by 479 tonnes. In instances of overproduction, Aramark donates unserved food to local food relief agencies or for composting.

EILEEN FISHER: The path to 100% circularity

EILEEN FISHER’s take-back programme, in which employees and customers can bring back unwanted EILEEN FISHER clothing for $5 store credit per piece, started in 2009 under the name Green Eileen. Funds raised from the programme are donated to organizations that support women, girls, and the environment. In 2017 Fisher Found was launched as the next iteration of Green Eileen, a circular take-back programme that focuses on reselling, renewing (repairing slightly flawed pieces, for example), and remaking EILEEN FISHER garments. Since 2009, EILEEN FISHER has taken back over 800,000 garments and donated $2 million to its chosen causes. EILEEN FISHER currently takes back 3% of the products it creates each year, and is working towards a goal to take back 100% of its output.

Intel: Finding value in waste material

Computer chip manufacturer Intel has set a goal to recycle 90% of its non-hazardous waste and divert 100% of its hazardous waste from landfills by 2020. Since 2008, Intel has recycled 75% of the total waste generated from its operations, such as through upcycling, recycling, recovery, and reuse. For example, Intel developed an onsite electro winning system to recover solid copper for reuse from an aqueous waste stream generated by semiconductor manufacturing. The recovered copper can enter the metals market supply chain for reuse in other industrial or commercial applications. The copper recovery process has been replicated at Intel’s microprocessor manufacturing sites and more than two-thirds of the waste was recovered in 2016. Additionally, over the past 10 years Intel has donated more than 1,000 pounds of copper to Arizona State University for use in the creation of works of art.

Johnson Controls: Closing the automotive batteries loop

Johnson Controls has designed its conventional automotive batteries so that 99% of the materials can be reused. Customers can return old batteries that are collected by Johnson Controls and turned into new batteries. The company’s circular supply chain has pushed recycling rates for conventional batteries to 99% in North America, Brazil, and Europe in 2015, enabling Johnson Controls to produce batteries containing more than 80% recycled material. In partnership with suppliers, customers, and logistics partners, Johnson Controls has enabled hundreds of millions of batteries to be properly recycled and recovered into new batteries. The benefits include a more resilient raw material supply, job creation and economic development for local communities and suppliers, and a 90% reduction in energy by using recycled plastics instead of virgin plastic.

The case study report will be released at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Circular Economy and Sustainability Summit, From Aspiration to Implementation, on June 26-28 in Washington DC