31 Oct Change Minds, Change Behaviors, Change Business
We recently had the opportunity to participate in Widener University’s Innovation Series and present at the Digital Process & Product Conference. Well attended by executives focused on IT, innovation, operations, digitalization, business process management, and transformation, the conference explored the impact of digital technologies and how organizations can tackle their own digital transformations.
While the conference sessions covered a range of new technologies – the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and intelligent automation – our presentation focused on Design Thinking. We weren’t alone, several other speakers touched on how a human-centered approach is critical for business innovation and enabling technology. By the time the attendees reached our afternoon session, most of them could easily talk about what Design Thinking is and were ready to learn more about the reality of putting it into practice – it’s hard and requires intention.
Our session helped attendees to reimagine their approach, providing actionable tips to use along the way as we shared Navigate’s three phases of applied Design Thinking (Change Minds, Change Behaviors, Change Business). Innovation does not happen overnight, but like many of the session attendees you’ll see that these phases put it within reach for every organization.
Here are a few takeaways from our session and discussion.
When you are tackling a transformative agenda, the first thing you need to do is define what that task really means. Have you ever Googled “innovation” before or looked up its definition? It’s less than helpful and could routinely be substituted with “that thing your boss wants but can’t define.” It is a big and broad word that you must give meaning in order to achieve it.
Beyond the definition, remind yourself who you are solving for. Time and time again we see organizations innovate based on what they believe will be valuable instead of what their customers need. Design Thinking and our applied framework promote a customer-centric mindset versus a customer-focused mindset because it’s important to not only define the problem you are trying to solve but to remind yourself who you are solving it for.
Once meaning meets purpose, you can start to gather the right tools and people you need along the way to make it happen.
To that end, we asked participants to lose the maps and textbook instructions. Innovation is an outcome, it’s not a solution (or it would be much easier to define). Innovating is a lot like going somewhere no one has ever gone before — there are no maps. So, it’s important to create an environment with customer-centric, curious people who ask questions and encourage new ideas. You need to be willing to let go of traditional approaches and learn through observation and empathy. The stories you collect along the way will be the insights and landmarks leading you to your outcomes.
The attendees asked a lot of good questions about how to execute this. Our framework encourages you to run, crawl, walk – in that order. We believe that you must start testing your ideas early, even in the lowest fidelity of prototype. Then slow down – observe your results and measure what’s important. Rinse and repeat. Change happens when people believe in what they’re doing and part of that means providing qualitative and quantitative evidence that you’re on the right path. So, ditch the map, start experiencing the path ahead of you, learn from the environment, and don’t forget to measure your steps.
Organizations who are customer-focused tend to equate innovative breakthroughs with technology investments and end up falling short of their desired outcome. This may seem surprising, but you don’t need to have disruptive, breakthrough ideas (which are often messy and complicated) to innovate if you’re committed to the right things. We shared our perspective on the use of technology as an enabler of transformation, not a driver of innovation, and how active empathy can lead to unique, previously unknown insights.
To make a big impact on the business, you need to create meaningful experiences for the people who give the engine a purpose (your customers) and those who keep the engine running (your employees). For customers to have great experiences, your employees must have some great ones as well, since they are delivering these lasting impressions. By following the journey of your customer, you’ll start to recognize that impact or innovation is often hidden in plain sight. Opportunities exist to capitalize on your current capabilities and develop the foundation necessary for a disruptive transformation.
Although innovation is not simple, it is within reach for every organization. Navigate is here to help. We want to see you succeed – starting by helping you define what innovation really means (and it’s different for everyone).
Contact me at [email protected] to discuss how your organization can approach innovation. That’s my favorite kind of conversation. If you’re interested, I can also share my presentation slides or a more detailed look at our framework.