Design for Change, Growth, and Scale

Modern, product-obsessed, human-centered organizations understand the value of applying design as business strategy; identifying future demand and envisioning new offerings by asking what’s desirable, possible, and viable.

These companies are also creating significant value by applying design broadly across their organizations: empowering employees, aligning stakeholders, transforming businesses, and making innovation scalable. 

Below are six strategies in which modern organizations are leveraging design to align, strengthen, and prepare teams for growth and scale.  

1. Embedding design principles in every function and BU to align organizational priorities and empower collaboration.

Modern organizations are developing sets of design principles that align: the company’s purpose, each business unit’s/department’s growth opportunities, and their users’ emerging needs.

By creating this detailed level of aspiration, and by making each area’s principles known throughout the organization, cross-silo teams have a better idea what information, talent, and assets could be shared and leveraged. Proactive communication and coordination increases across the company.

Additionally, strategic hiring, retention, and development are enhanced. Return on invested capital goes up. Marketing becomes more integrated and effective. Ultimately, teams become empowered to explore myriad possibilities with confidence that their solutions will align with company values and direction.

For Allstate’s new digital safety business, IA Collaborative developed guiding principles and embedded “who we are, what we do, and why we do it” into the talent lifecycle.

2. Championing user research and storytelling to connect user needs with business opportunities. 

Companies that conduct continuous user research to inform ongoing product development and innovation are far more likely to stay ahead of changing customer needs and maintain market leadership. 

To maximize research efforts, modern companies are transforming insights into compelling communication that can be broadly shared across the company. Video, print, and digital media can bring insights to life though user stories embedded with insight. These narratives inspire teams to create user-centered solutions that drive business strategy, offerings, experiences, and operations.

For the young athletes team, IA Collaborative conducted research with 10-year-old “elite” athletes and synthesized insights into a video, book, and team space to inspire future offerings.

3. Envisioning user-centered value propositions to evolve current and future offerings.

Led by user insight and fueled by cross-discipline collaboration, modern organizations continuously consider updates to their value propositions and customer targets; identifying opportunities for product extension and market expansion. 

To ensure new directions are not only desirable to users, but also possible and viable for the company to deliver, teams visualize high-level user experiences while assessing new capability needs and investment requirements. 

For Samsung, IA Collaborative designed an omni-channel wearables strategy that led to the development of Samsung’s current wearables product line.

4. Seamlessly integrating new partners into the business ecosystem.

Most acquisitions fail to deliver value greater than their cost of capital. When considering new potential acquisitions or detailing the integration plan for already-acquired businesses, modern companies take a user-first approach toward determining how newly-combined assets might be leveraged. 

To create competitive advantage, teams envision opportunities that could enhance current or enable entirely new experiences, offerings, and business models. All latent, underutilized assets are uncovered through cross-functional cooperation and diligence. 

Armed with design principles, teams define which components and operating models should remain independent and which should become integrated or divested. 

Based on human-centered scenario planning, an integration roadmap is established; maximizing value from the acquisitions while avoiding cannibalization and cultural conflict. 

Oftentimes, teams will initially isolate new acquisitions to preserve value and assess opportunities. Next, teams iteratively incubate aquirees’ ideas within the parent organization, followed by strategic incorporation of key capabilities into their core business. After successful piloting, the last stage is full integration of customer experiences, operations, and cultures.

For Allstate Digital Safety, IA Collaborative informed a $500M investment to acquire technology standards and resources required to enable experiences the were top user priorities.

5. Enabling ideal customer experience through organizational transformation.

When seeking to change the way parts of their organization works, modern companies begin by identifying a bold user-centered vision though cross-functional collaboration. 

Teams facilitate service blueprinting work sessions where user, customer, and partner needs are mapped to customer sales and service capabilities; tools, features, and programs; and operations, policies, and technologies. To activate the vision and blueprint, new collaboration models are often required, bridging organizational silos and establishing new incentive structures and shared goals. 

For United, IA Collaborative traveled over 150,000 miles to observe flyer and agent behavior, established a 5-year vision and rigorous near-term roadmap (product, ops, back-end), and designed an award-winning app and digital ecosystem.

6. Business prototyping to prioritize new online and offline experiences.

Even for digital-first companies, much of a customer’s experience occurs offline. By incorporating lean methodologies with design thinking, modern companies simulate and iterate evolutions — and entirely new versions — of offerings, operations, and profit models. 

Through low-fidelity prototypes, teams make experiences feel 100 percent real to customers (before incurring the expense of new operations or assets) and gain data from “in real life” interactions among customers, employees, and partners. 

With this iterative approach, leadership gains valuable real-user data, otherwise unavailable without business prototyping. Prototype data indicates which projects have the most merit, and what makes the most sense to fund and scale.

For a large-scale delivery company, IA Collaborative prototyped a functioning new last-mile delivery business to define optimal experience, pricing, and operations. Funded in 6 months, this prototype-turned-business-offering now lives in 30 markets.

Designing for Change, Growth, and Scale 

In summary, by incorporating human-centered design principles within each functional discipline and business unit, companies are signaling priorities and facilitating collaboration across the company. By evangelizing user research and storytelling across the organization, everyone becomes empowered by customer insight to guide their work. By infusing human-centered and systemic thinking within offering, integration, and transformation strategies, teams are envisioning and capturing new and unexpected value. By business prototyping online and offline experiences, leadership is making better-informed product and service investments.

By infusing a design process and mindset throughout their organizations, modern companies are creating a human-centered, systemic culture; and aligning teams to lead change.