As our world changes, the challenges to business grow. Old ways of thinking are being replaced by open minds and creativity. Design is playing a central role in helping solve problems and drive the future. We invite you to see how design is shaping the new business.

A Zilver Innovation initiative

Reviewing ‘Design the new Business’

 

By Erik Roscam Abbing

Let’s be honest, there’s more than shiny happy people: criticism on the movie has been fierce, but also truthful and constructive. Here are some of the comments we received from people around the globe, that we learned the most from:

 

  • “You’ve only looked at large businesses, where are the SME’s?” True, we were especially interested in large companies and their change agents, because the issues they’re facing are so complex. A future project may focus on smaller businesses and the specific issues they are facing.
  • “Why haven’t you portrayed the fear and the misunderstanding a lot of these people encounter in their work?”. Fair point, but we didn’t want to make a movie with ‘moaning people’ (quoting Ralf Beuker in 20:44 of the movie). On the other hand, it shouldn’t be a ‘success stories only’ movie. We may not have struck exactly the right balance.
  • “It’s just a lot of talk, where are the examples?”. Again, fair point. It was hard to make a short movie with sufficient depth AND show a lot of case studies, within the time and budget constraints we had (Zilver financed this movie out of our own pocket). Although we have attempted to put in some case material, I think that overall the movie has turned out to be too abstract for some viewers. This is a great challenge for a next movie project: how to show the process and the outcomes in a visually-engaging and concrete way (where typically between the two lies at least a year, and some content is confidential).
  • “It is unclear to me who you are trying to target with this movie”. We are targeting anyone who might be interested in how new design approaches are helping large organizations deal with complex issues, and how new agencies and schools are operating in this field. This includes a somewhat eclectic bunch of students, educators, consultants, managers, designers and so forth. I think the ‘complaint’ behind this question is: “I don’t feel you’re addressing me”. This question usually comes from people who are not seeing anything new in the movie, or who don’t connect to the topic at all. Fair enough, we have created a bit of a niche product haven’t we?
  • “I hoped to find out what design thinking is, you haven’t given me the answer”. True. We specifically did not want to make a movie on what design thinking is but on what it does. Google ‘design thinking’ and you’ll get plenty of definitions (some better than others). Google “what does design thinking do for my company”and you get none. Ask a designer what design thinking is and he’ll more or less know the answer. Ask a business manager what design thinking is and he’ll say ‘who cares, just solve the problem’. To be honest, to us the debate on what design thinking is is rather like the plumber endlessly discussing his new wrench with you while all you want from him is to fix your faucet.
  • “The sound of the movie sucks”. It sure does. As movie-making novices we didn’t estimate the audio impact of so many diverse environments, and we made the huge mistake of not investing in the right type of microphone! Sorry.

But, all in all, I learned a great deal from this project and the people we interviewed. Here are my key insights per interview:

Océ

The days of push marketing are over, companies have to learn to identify their space in value networks. Transitions are not disruptions of your core business; they are your core business.

Volkswagen

If you want to innovate, it’s vital that you find the right stage in the organization to play on. Designers build bridges between abstract and concrete, internal and external, idea and execution, research and development, etc. It’s not business and design, that are opposing entities, it’s more ‘are you in the business of creating new things or optimizing existing things?’

Alexander Osterwalder

People are building new businesses based on business models from the past. But if you want to innovate, you have to include new business models, and you have to involve designers. Designers have the right mindset to fail and learn, so you don’t fail big. And they have the tools and methods to help businesses create growth.

Frido Smulders

The debate on design thinking focuses very much on the creativity part. But design brings much more to the table than just creativity. It’s not about ‘thinking out of the box’ in a workshop or two. Design thinking is more complex and more interesting than that.

Jan Buijs

Designers have the ability to analyze and synthesize. This is a very valuable skill. But it’s not about taking the design route OR the business route; design is part of business, it supports business objectives. What designers contribute is both thinking and doing.

Ralf Beuker

Designers have to stop moaning about being misunderstood and instead add value to business. Everyone understands value. Where business thinking has the ability to make sense of the past through measurements, designers have the ability to make sense of the future through empathy and insight.

Claro Partners and Maria Bezaitis from Intel

A lot of services revolve around the understanding that there’s a shift from ownership to access to an experience. It’s important to combine business understanding and business model innovation with social insights and understanding. Clients are not buying design thinking from you, or research as such. They are buying outcomes and solutions. You can only get there through creativity and interpretation of data.

Damian Kernhan and Amanda O’Donell from Virgin Mobile

Making the complex simple is Damian’s core business. Differentiation requires a service design approach, leading to experience innovation that does impact the bottom line. Emotion is crucial to getting people on board to design the new business. The business approach and the design approach go hand in hand to deliver magic.

In10

There’s a shift from return of investment in a financial way to return on investment in terms of loyalty.

Arne van Oosterom and Ton Borsboom from Philips

Design thinking is not a method; it’s about finding the right method for the purpose and asking the right questions. Here’s more info on designers DNA which we co-founded: www.designersDNA.com. Product-focused companies are starting to embrace service design because products are becoming interconnected and become surrounded by a service ecosystem. But it’s an emerging competence that needs to be learned. Designers serve as connectors between businesses and departments.

Engine

Design is a very human activity that helps organizations become more people-centered. You can’t solve new problems with old solutions. Design is about finding new solutions. Design thinkers are comfortable with postponing the moment of pinning down the problem, to explore different ways of framing the problem to find newer and better solutions. It’s about balancing analytical approaches to problem solving with more design-led approaches.

I’m very excited about this project and all that’s to come. Keep discussing, keep reflecting, and keep doing! And please don’t spare us your criticism! Or your thumbs up 😉

 


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