Can the approach that revolutionized product design change the way entire companies are organized and work? Can a corporate culture be design centric?
Design Thinking simplifies complexity and makes customer interactions more intuitive and enjoyable. It emerged out of Stanford's D-School and IDEO. It is not about aesthetics – it's a business strategy to achieve differentiation, customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Design Thinking forces a company to embrace a more intimate understanding of its customers and their interactions with the brand, and then be very reductive in creating more valuable experiences. Principles such as user empathy, rapid prototyping and learning from failure make Design Thinking practical and action-oriented.
This practice has been embraced by companies as diverse as Hermann Miller, Apple, Kohler, 3M, Method and Target to improve products and customer experiences. David Butler, Coke's head of innovation, stopped using the squishy "D-word" and instead talks about how his team can "make stuff better."
So this makes me wonder if Design Thinking can go beyond "stuff" and make entire companies better.
For example, applying Design Thinking to a professional services firm like an advertising agency could have a tremendous impact. It would inspire us to reorganize in a way that emphasizes what clients value most (e.g., ideas, innovation, results). We'd simplify how we solve complex marketing challenges to create more time and space for big ideas. We would emphasize rapid prototyping and use an iterative ideation process to create bigger and more effective ideas. And together, agency and client, we would have to become more comfortable with risk, an essential ingredient in a test and learn culture.
Team Detroit was born of change. If any team is capable of being the first to apply Design Thinking to itself, it is us. After all, it's what we do!