Design Thinking: What does 2017 have in store for enterprises?
Placed in the vast sea of change (Big Data, Internet of Things, digital transformation) which we call disruptive environment today, companies of all scales face the need to be greatly agile. Those companies that get too comfortable with their current capacities have a future-seat reserved in the extinct category. Consider companies like Nokia, Blackberry and Kodak, which have faded over the last few years. While small and medium scale enterprises are responsive to the technological development, the large-scale companies often put off updating their approach. This could be because they are accustomed to following an orthodox strategy, they might already have a regular set of customer and there might be a dearth of time to implement an organization-scale technological change.
Large organizations are also being transformed by contemporary trends like long-distance working, millennials and co-working spaces. What the present asks of companies is that they welcome the design thinking approach to create an innovative space for their legacy services and products, paving a future of outstanding customer and employee experience. Gartner defines design thinking as “a multidisciplinary process that builds solutions for complex, intractable problems in a technically feasible, commercially sustainable and emotionally meaningful way”.
When it comes to software development, there is never a finished product. There can be stable releases that supply good user experience (UX) but there can always be better UX and for this reason, there is always unfinished business in the lives of software. While new features are loaded into the software every day to cater to demands of the users, such an addition runs risk of complicating the software.
Design thinking allows untying such complications and empowers companies to highlight the features in most simple of ways, attracting users not only to the feature-rich but intuitive environment of the software.
In a company where the manual for app designs are already established, it is a risky move to experiment. However, without such a risk, the company also carries low chance of reaching upon an innovation. The company culture will determine, to a huge extent, how employees come forward to experiment with the software design.
Large-scale companies are often set up across countries, which have a well-formed model for running their business, with the corresponding expected returns. The introduction of a new design could stir such a model and might handicap the estimated quarterly returns (for a short term).
Identifying Limitations of Design Thinking
Design thinking is one of the most efficient ways to organize complexity into a singular process. However, companies must understand that it is not a solution to all the problems. While it might be a fertile ground for innovation, companies cannot apply it for daily business chores.
App made for each one, every-one.
Amidst the heavily time-driven and tech-laden environment within which software is developed, companies often leave behind the dimension of human involvement in it. Individual customers are subsumed to the need for fulfilling large-scale demands of revenues.
With design thinking, the needs of your individual customers are injected into the process of software development such that it takes into account their everyday desires and needs.
Higher productivity and satisfaction for employees
The orthodox model for employee-employer relation was mostly one-way. Employees were trained, their performance was monitored and their contribution towards company growth gauged. While the company saw a good amount of growth, the employees were dissatisfied and unhappy. Today, companies are becoming corporate families where employees play the critical role of guarding the services and products, much like the army to a kingdom. For this reason, one cannot afford to take light their quotient of happiness in the company.
Design thinking acknowledges the role of every member in a team and pushes for identifying their effort and appraising it. For this reason, it is often wrapped in employee satisfaction goals including perks, employee benefits, a healthy work-space culture and others. The product and service is the ultimate end which can only be mastered if every hand that lends to its growth is happy- software development processes revolve around the experiences of employees and thus, garner higher satisfaction.
Consumers as humans first
Large-scale companies enjoy the privilege of having a huge amount of customer data on their hands. With their employees inclined towards higher productivity, these companies can refine such data to reach actionable insights. This will allow them to enhance their services and also create products which will be in tune with their customers’ persona.
With insights about their customers, employees will also find the shift from being process-centered to being customer-centered easier. Happy employees will be more sensitive towards the consumers and will push to reach inclusive and innovative solutions.
We are citizens of an era where companies thrive to be socially responsible and build solutions for alleviating global issues. Consider the case of SPO (The Strengthening Participatory Organization). Sindh (a province in Pakistan) was negatively impacted (covering over 5.5 million people) by 2011 floods. While help poured in, it became difficult to account for where the supplies were being used up. Following the design thinking process, SPO researched and discovered that while major portion of the residents had mobile phones, the literacy rate was low (thus, accessibility would have to be furthered). To resolve this, SPO partnered with FrontlineSMS, an open-source messaging app. A numbering-feedback system was established. This allowed the organization to distribute the supplies to local communities in cards using the local language. An important part of the solution was to reach out and connect with the community to ensure effectiveness of the solution.
Spreading design thinking throughout your organization is a tough task but one which has huge returns. It is a holistic way to develop your employees’ participation within the company and to create more intuitive services-products for your customers.
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