How Design Thinking Helps Beat the Odds on Digital Transformation Success
May 8, 2019 | Design Thinking
by ExperiencePoint

How Design Thinking Helps Beat the Odds on Digital Transformation Success“Digital Transformation” is the latest trend to keep executives up at night. Leaders who’ve spent decades achieving success following “business as usual” strategies are feeling intense pressure to transform their entire organizations, and to embrace analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning so they can streamline their work, delight their customers, and turn their workforce into lifelong learners.

The organizations that can pull it off will be ideally positioned to dominate in a future where digital skills and adaptable learners will define the future of work.

Unfortunately, most companies are struggling mightily to make it happen. A study from Wipro found half of senior executives feel their company is not successfully executing against 50 percent of their digital transformation strategies, and many are failing to achieve the expected ROI. Resistance to new ways of working and feeling overwhelmed by digital complexity, were cited as the top two obstacles leaders face in making these transformations work.

We feel your pain. When leaders are put in charge of transforming a business unit or an entire organization, it can be hard to even know where to begin. Digital transformations are not just about rolling out new technology or updating your software. These efforts require significant culture change, and a new way of working that demands buy-in from across the organization. Most leaders lack the experience or roadmap to make this happen. Here’s where design thinking can help pave the way.

Design thinking helps teams understand and empathize with their customers as a way to build better products and services to meet their needs. It provides teams with keen insights into what matters most to the people they are trying to serve, and what will drive them to change their behavior.

Most people think of design thinking as a product design strategy, however it works equally well when your customers are also your employees — as is the case in a digital transformation.

One of the biggest obstacles to transformation is getting people to alter the way they behave at work. Their willingness to change will make or break any transformation, however the change management side of transformation is often ignored, or left to trainers to magically make happen at the end of the project. This approach sets these efforts up for failure.

Instead, leaders charged with transformation should start thinking about the needs of their employers (their customers) at the outset of the transformation process, and deploy design thinking strategies and workshops to uncover what they need to do to win them over. Taking a design thinking approach will help leaders embrace a human centered design strategy that engages employees and uncovers novel solutions for bringing them along.

These insights can be the difference between success and failure.

A design thinking for digital transformation case study, developed by Genpact, a global consultancy that shepherds all kinds of companies on their digital transformation journeys, lays out why design thinking is crucial for transformation, and shares a step-by-step guide for making it work. As the authors conclude: “design thinking can be an integral part of a more practical approach to harnessing digital for executives who lead large enterprise operations and processes.”

Though deploying a design thinking framework requires more than just reading an article or two about the importance of empathy and human centered design. To have the biggest impact, transformation leaders need training for themselves and their teams, on how to leverage the elements of design thinking to engage with customers, empathize with their needs, and brainstorm solutions to the complex challenges that have thrown so many other transformation challenges off track.

If you don’t want to be one of the many organizations who failed to make their digital transformation happen, you have to focus on your people, your culture, and what you can do to make change happen. Chances are design thinking is a big part of the answer.


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