The power of design for reaching business goals
When we examined organisations across industrial-, service- and public sectors we saw very similar business goals. More striking are the similarities in the way organisations operate against implicit or explicit business goals such as business improvement and organisational change. Our analysis and reflection of Livework’s work across 500 organisations identified six essential business goals where a design approach can make a huge difference.
Business value by design
Use design to explore and learn
A staggering amount of value is lost by organisations that look at their business from the inside. Bringing in an outside in view of how customers experience a product or service is a good starting point for organisations to explore what customers really expect and want. In addition, co-creating and prototyping with customers and stakeholders brings the real learning that can result in better products or breakthrough services.
Use design to achieve real impact
Internal budgets and commitments are hard to attain for high potential projects without clearly identified value. Service design thinking and co-creation can help realise short-term impact (quick wins) that build towards tangible mid-term results. Focussing first on what really matters to customers, suppliers, partners and then co-creating solutions against core needs can deliver surgically placed improvements and support long term strategic goals.
Use design to innovate
What is a major innovation for one organisation is common practice for another. Design(ers) can help challenge an organisation’s conventions and push through siloed thinking to find the next innovation for customers and the business. The challenge is to find the balance between going beyond ‘improvements’ or straying into blue sky thinking. Visualisation, co-creation and prototyping help organisations to develop innovative ways to exploit opportunities using their strengths while recognising their limitations.
Use design to execute with success
A successful project is not to balance the budgets (constraints), quality and time, but to prepare the organisation to adopt the new business/process/system. Using design tools and thinking shortens timelines, improves quality and increases internal adoption. Involve and collaborate with internal teams and customers to set up and focus on projects. Cross functional/departmental creative sessions to solve problems keep the level of commitment and alignment high.
Use design to change an organisation
It is important to see changes in organisations in the context of the people and functions affected. Minor improvements in the way one part of the organisation operates can bring significant change to other departments. Co-creation with creativity creates understanding and co-ownership, while visualisation and prototyping enable active participation across the organisation. It is crucial to use design beyond inspiration, and create tools and practices that departments develop further and people use over time.
Use design to build internal capabilities
All businesses have goals to improve products or services, and need to build skills and expertise to achieve some of these ambitions. Select and train internal resources in real-life challenges involving customers, internal and external stakeholders. Tailor and adjust the design approach to the capabilities and constraints of the organisation, and make them native to the way you work.
The business of design is organisational impact
Design tools and methods are extremely powerful and effective when applied in a business setting. Understanding the six business goals makes design teams more effective by focusing on results that matter to the organisation. Using design(ers) to achieve one or more business goals can bring more innovative and sustainable solutions than more traditional approaches. None of this is easy, but in our experience mixing business thinking with design approaches like co-creation and prototyping leads to incredible results.