Collaborative team is a playing a strategic role in this year’s KDC, which will
focus on solving a complex business challenge for Amazon. IA co-founder and
Chief Design Officer Dan
Kraemer is the featured keynote speaker for
the challenge, and he will serve as one of the judges for the competition
alongside co-founder and Chief Design Strategy Officer Kathleen
Brandenburg, and Business
Strategy Group Director Kyle Smith.
Kellogg Global Hub – Northwestern University
2211 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208
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
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
increase across the company. Continuous
learning becomes a mindset and processes continue to iterate and improve.
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.
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
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
thoughtful design, unfamiliar concepts are easily digested and novel ideas are
brought to life, helping both the enlightened and novice business leader learn,
adopt, and grow.
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.
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, business models, and internal processes. 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. Internal user journeys can also be defined to inform operating
structures and decision-making processes.
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.
5. Enabling ideal customer experience through organizational transformation.
When seeking to change the way parts of their organization work, 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.
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. Operating models can also be feasibly tested, where teams are built, trained, and expanded quickly.
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.
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 businessprototyping 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.
Dan leads the convergence of design and business strategy at IA Collaborative, where he works with teams to identify unseen human needs, frame breakthrough opportunities, and drive systemic solutions to commercialization.