How design thinking can help companies

From a corporation or business design standpoint, a lot may need to change to be present compliant and future ready

Anubhav Gupta
Updated: Jul 22, 2019 12:01:44 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

“The great film editor is not a cutter, he’s a storyteller, right?” – Ridley Scott.

So, let me tell you a story. We live in an age of convergence, disruption and rapid obsolescence. Traditional silos between disciplines, industries, markets, economies, formats and systems are constantly blurred to make way for new disruptions and business models. Recent industry reports say that capital is cheap and is no longer a real constraint to growth for corporations. Ideas and talent are the new black.

From a corporation or business design standpoint, a lot may need to change to be present compliant and future ready, not to mention remain relevant in managing growth and innovation. Traditional boundaries and business verticals may not be relevant anymore. Convergent talent, disruptive thinking and connecting dots in the form of business horizontals to blur verticals may be the need for the future. The emergence of Chief Design Officers or Chief Innovation Officers in Boardrooms is not surprising as a common pattern across a new breed of successful corporations.

It is the coexistence of a start-up innovation culture alongside a lean sustainable growth model that most corporations struggle with, not to mention against a backdrop of what is relevant in today’s increasingly digital context. Again, from evidence, truly design-led corporations seem to be doing better in trying to keep with the balance. Harvard Business Review cites a 228 percent growth of stock performance of design-led companies over the Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Index over the past decade. The UK Design Council finds that 83 percent of design-led companies saw market share increase at twice the industry average. Adobe says 50 percent of design-led companies reported a relatively more loyal customer base.

On the agency side, an interesting evolution is underway. John Maeda’s ‘Design in Tech’ report says that large consulting firms are the biggest mergers and acquisitions (M&A) drivers for a spike in creative firm acquisitions.

‘Mckinsey Design’, borne out of Mckinsey acquiring Lunar, a creative agency, say that they believe in ‘Taking a unique, multidisciplinary approach to helping clients drive growth’, bringing designers together with McKinsey’s deep industry insights and expertise. BCG Digital Ventures has an interesting 10-point manifesto that describes themselves as innovators, inventors, pioneers and founders, who are a ‘foundry creating the next wave of disruption, one corporate partnership at a time.’ Bain Digital cleverly writes, “The goal is not being a digital business but rather getting business results in a digital world where the next digital trend isn’t technology, but it’s a new point of view.”

Why is all this happening? Perhaps on the demand side there is a demographic shift in the way society is evolving. Much like the post-war baby boomers in the US and burgeoning middle class in large developing nations, the millennials world-over seem to be defining mega trends in a big way. There is plenty of literature emerging on various aspects of understanding their behaviour and impact on business, economy, workplace and consumption, among other trends. Some key trends from these reports include their belief in shared services, connectivity, community, working towards a higher purpose, sustainability, authenticity, convenience, value based on research and transactions in an experience versus ownership economy.

For them, data is the new oil and technology the vehicle. Central to their core is the authentic designed experience. The idea of the ‘Experience Economy’ as a logical progression from the 'Service Economy' was best articulated in the late 90s by consultants Pine and Gilmore. Not only are experiences important, their use as currency is rapidly fuelling the growth of this type of economy thanks to social media and hyper connectivity. According to Euromonitor, global expenditure on the Experience Economy is forecast to reach $8.2 trillion by 2028.

Various companies have chosen to reinvent themselves using Design Thinking to set up variants of this model within large corporations across industries. As previously mentioned, common patterns of design thinking are observed at these companies: Empowerment, selected leadership, mission critical team consolidation, and, as a result, consistent business returns.

Necessity has long been defined as the mother of all invention and in this case perhaps reinvention. This is not about cutting roles or making new ones. It is about a mission critical and tight edit to tell the story right for business tomorrow. It is an entirely different way of thinking and dot connecting for an entirely new customer—a new script for those who believe that a sea change to remain relevant and be future ready is currently underway. And simply put, the bottom line is, are you going to be EDITed in or edited out?

The author is EVP at Godrej Properties

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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