So you’ve embarked on a digital transformation and you are beginning to realize that it’s going to be a lot harder than you think. Don’t feel discouraged. Only three percent of companies consider their digital transformation efforts a sustainable success, according to this 2018 study conducted by McKinsey.
It’s a sobering number, but executives can dramatically increase their odds of success by learning about design thinking.
This doesn’t only mean that executives should hire design teams, or put their digital departments through design thinking workshops (though these are both great ideas). It also means that executives themselves need to learn the art of design thinking, and human-centered design, and practice it in their daily decision-making lives.
This advice may seem biased (we teach a lot of executives how to leverage design thinking to improve business outcomes), but this advice isn’t just coming from ExperiencePoint. Many well-respected experts and consulting organizations tout the benefits of human-centered design to support digital transformations and business success in general. The most recent is Accenture, the Fortune 500 professional services firm that advises business leaders across the globe.
In June, 2019, Accenture Strategy released its New Rules of Engagement Report, which explores why companies need to reskill the C-Suite to drive bottom line results. Through a survey of 11,000 executives and 200 in-depth interviews, Accenture found that top executives are facing unprecedented disruption that has the potential to destroy company value in the long-term.
In response to these threats, 82 percent of respondents said these forces are motivating the C-Suite to implement a human-centered approach to leadership, which they say will require significant reskilling over the next three years.
The report argues that executives have to learn to manage the needs of “Pathfinders”— a new “supergroup” of customers and employees who believe they can effect change within the companies they work for and buy from. The emergence of these influential customer groups requires leaders who understand how to empathize and respond to customers’ passions, principles and capabilities. This requires a combination of analytical capabilities and human-centered skills, the authors say.
While executives are mostly comfortable with the former skill set, the latter, which includes the ability to influence and empower, develop empathy and self-awareness, and think creatively, are harder to navigate.
Sixty-five percent of respondents admitted their weakest skills are these “right-brain” soft skills, and that they need to strengthen them if they have a hope of excelling as leaders in the future. Hence the need for reskilling.
The good news: executives that actually follow through with this reskilling effort can expect to reap big rewards. Accenture found companies using a whole-brain approach experienced 22 percent higher revenue growth and 34 percent higher profitability than those that don’t.
“The C-Suite must build these balanced skills and use them at both the organizational and individual level,” the authors conclude. It will help them solve the big problems that threaten to disrupt their organizations, and infuse an innovative mindset across the workforce.
Learn how to enable innovation skill-building at scale here or download our free ebook Kickstart Innovation: A Guide for Organizations.