Monthly Archives: September 2016

Design Thinking: Buzzword or Benefit?

Design Thinking can revolutionize your approach to business, and it can improve your results dramatically.

Apple used design thinking to become the most valuable corporation in the world. Wal-Mart became the largest corporation in the world through design thinking. Amazon, Bharti Airtel, Uber, Oyo and IndiGo disrupted industries and became market leaders with design thinking.

Organizations don’t use Design Thinking primarily for two reasons: they don’t know about it, or they are not comfortable changing their beliefs, attitudes and habits. Sadly, if they ignore Design Thinking, they risk being surpassed by competitors.

Here’s a brief introduction to get you started. Design Thinking is based on empathy. To succeed in any endeavor, you must understand and appreciate how your customers perceive and interact with your solution. I teach that business managers must become like brain surgeons, so they can look inside the skulls of users to learn how they think, and like heart doctors, so they can learn how users feel. Only then can the managers design solutions that will be both effective and acceptable to customers.

The second pillar of Design Thinking is creativity. Too many organizations pay only lip service to creativity, but what they really value and reward is conformity and continuity. Questioning the way things are done is discouraged. New ideas are dismissed or delayed in favor of existing initiatives and activities. Creativity is squelched, and the organization never benefits from the original thoughts of its employees. To correct this deficiency, an organization can establish programs and policies to increase the creative output of its staff.

Design Thinking has become a hot business buzzword. I hope you will take steps to change it from a buzzword to a benefit in your organization.

Related reading: The Power of Design Thinking

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Posted by on September 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Innovation

Two kinds of barriers – attitudinal and institutional – can block innovation in your organization. Of the two, attitudinal barriers are by far the more dangerous. What can you do to overcome them?

World-class innovators use three powerful levers to change the attitudes and behaviors of their workers. The three levers are innovation policies, innovation programs, and innovation structures.

Policies tell workers what behaviors are expected. In a culture where words are understood to express feelings, hopes and social niceties, rather than taken as commitments to act, it is essential that corporate leaders go beyond inspirational speeches. The leaders themselves must “walk the talk” of innovation, and the company’s policies must demonstrate that innovation is a requirement, not an option.

Programs are organized activities that promote innovation in the company. These may range from special events and workshops to innovation projects to corporate-wide campaigns. Innovation programs give employees opportunities to participate directly in the work of innovation.

Structures are departments, offices and positions in the organization where various steps in the innovation process will be managed. Unless specific individuals and groups are assigned to look after the process and held accountable for its outcomes, it can be difficult to assess and improve an organization’s performance in the area of innovation.

Attitudinal barriers to innovation may come from your national culture, your industry culture, or your corporate culture. No matter the source, you can create policies, programs and structures to make world-class innovation happen in your organization.

Related reading: You Can Innovate Anywhere – Even Insurance Companies!

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Uncategorized


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