Design thinking and organizational agility have more than a thing or two in common. Both embrace customer-centricity and the rapid evolution of new ideas. Both value experimentation and testing, insisting on a “fail-fast” mentality and the seamless sharing of candid feedback. In fact, you could argue that organizational agility is the natural outcome of a company that has scaled design principles across departments.
So if you’re hoping to increase the agility of your organization, design thinking can play an important role. The human-centered approach to problem solving promotes company-wide responsiveness, speed and collaboration in two key areas: daily behavior and systemic structures.
Actionable Insights and Daily Behavior
The most essential element of design thinking is developing a better understanding of what your customer needs. This process begins with letting go of biases and assumptions and paying attention to your user with newfound perception and understanding. But empathizing has to go beyond simply recognizing your customers’ feelings—empathizing has to translate into actionable insights.
It’s this part of design thinking—defining the customer problem with intelligence and precision—that has the most bearing on organizational agility. When employees hone the ability to translate observations into problems that can be shared and discussed with other teams, they set new ideas into motion. Collaboration and ideation can develop naturally once a clear problem has been identified. When teams bring this level of discernment and astuteness to their daily work, they pave the way for time-effective responsiveness to new customer trends, which is the bedrock of organizational agility.
Removing Internal Barriers to Progress
Design thinking skills work on two levels. People need to be practiced and well-versed in the method’s mindsets and behaviors, applying these new skills to their daily work. But if these people are working in an unchanged environment, they’ll find their efforts frustrated as they encounter teams that aren’t familiar with design thinking and remain accustomed to working in old ways. The problem of “changed” people in an unchanged environment is why design thinking can only really take off if mass training has been scaled across the company as a whole.
It’s in this system-wide application of design thinking that we see the most overlap with organizational agility. When design thinking is embraced as the company’s foremost modus operandi, a fluid and collaborative structure emerges, characterized by inter-departmental cooperation and sustained by a common language. An organization that has scaled design thinking capabilities across departments has the channels and systems in place to respond quickly to new challenges and swiftly establish new initiatives. When a good idea emerges, it has the ability to take off and evolve without delay.
The takeaway? For a company to become agile, employees need to be able to make actionable insights based on customer behavior. In order for these insights to evolve into new projects and policies, the company must have the right channels in place to support quick and effective project development. These goals are achievable by scaling design thinking across your organization.
Interested in learning more about design thinking and actionable insights? Read our post: What’s Empathy Got to Do with It?