Last week, ThoughtForm had the great pleasure to participate in the Design Management Institute (DMI) 2016 Design Leadership Conference, “Smart, Fast, and Connected.
Here are three big ideas from three of our team members:
Steve Frank, Director of Business Development
“Everything is becoming a service”
The 2016 DMI Design Leadership Conference did not fail to deliver leading insights and a few “ah has” this year. Kristin Skinner, Managing Director, Adaptive Path and Head of Design Management, Capital One caught my attention when she said, “everything is becoming a service.” Yes, the internet of things has already arrived and with it comes a proliferation of always-on services.
This evolution requires a fundamental shift in how businesses interface with each other and consumers. The distinction between software, hardware, and services is becoming blurred and our expectations as consumers for a meaningful end-to-end journey is on the rise. Smart companies have leveraged design to operate across a much broader range of responsibilities and scale to multiple layers of understanding.
At a 10,000ft view, design helps employees of large and small companies to understand the big picture, see an integrated view of the service and the make up of hardware, software, people and process behind that service.
At a 1,000ft view, design brings structure and meaning to the vision and strategic intent.
At a 100ft view, the team requires an understanding of the service structure. Design supports this role with visual languages, service blueprints and choreography, wireframes, and brand standards.
And finally at a surface level view, design is applied to meet our growing expectations for layout, interface, typography, color, and animation.
As more companies address the integration of services into their business models, Kristin validated designs ability to scale and add value from big picture to surface level. Services are dependent on relationships, and relationships occur between people and information. If these relationships between a company and its employees fall down, it will never be able to have a good relationship with it’s customers.
Jonathan Ruggieri, Project Manager
“The Best of Both Worlds”
A trending topic this year at DMI was giving designers the opportunities and tools to become a more strategic stakeholder within their organizations. One way this is happening is design teams are evolving away from the more traditional model of being devoted to one line of business, service, or products within their organization. While the traditional model gives designers deep subject matter knowledge and helps drive efficiency, it can turn designers and design teams into order takers, create silos among teams, and also create fractured user experiences across the whole business. So, how do designers manage the day to day work that keeps the engine running and get an integrated view of the big picture in their organization?
Kristin Skinner, Managing Director at Adaptive Path and the Head of Design Management at Capital One, discussed the right balance of keeping the pros of traditional team architectures, but also building connections to other areas in a business to create what she described as a “Centralized Partnership.” This matrixed design organization allows designers to maintain a holistic view across the entire design and customer experience, while still having highly valued subject matter expertise. They are seeing the upstream and downstream connections because they are now working across the business, service, or product. Though a project team might be working on a single initiative related to one area of the business, the team is easily reorganized for the next project with another set of business areas.
What are other opportunities to give designers more strategic opportunities? Helen Engelen, Head of Design Teams & Operations at Philips, also discussed balancing the vertical “day to day” activities and the horizontal work of projects outside of their activities. She explained that 80% of designers time on typical projects while the other 20% should be focused on innovation exploration, finding disruptive technologies, and improving their own processes.
Their is a definite movement starting where organizations are transitioning their designers out of a space where they are just “doers,” and moving them into a larger space where they can deliver on all scales – from the big picture strategic view point down to the structure and service level of design.
Maeve Klutch, Content Strategist
“Throw out your strategy binder”
DMI opened with a bang from keynote speaker Vijay Govindarajan, a Coxe Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth and Martin Bower Fellow at Harvard. Vijay’s speech was about rethinking your short and long term strategies to ensure that you could truly innovate, rather that just continuously improve. Continuous improvement, Vijay said, was not a long term strategy because continuous innovation is linear innovation. It’s expected. Operational excellence is table stakes. Performance management is best practices bench marking. They’re important, but not strategy. Next practices are what you need to be doing.That’s because true strategy is focusing on non-linear innovation. But how do you do non-linear innovation? Answer: You’ve got to predict the future by writing it yourself. For many corporations, that’s a high risk concept. More resources need to be dedicated to innovating and disrupting the current market, and anticipating what new ideas will break-through, rather than step-wise growth.
Strategy and non-linear innovation require very aggressive goals or strategic intents. A strategic intent is defined by direction, motivation, and challenge. It’s not a generic mission statement— it’s aspirational. It’s not about 2% increases over 5 or 10 years. It’s not about playing it safe. It’s about defining the future that you want to see and then figuring out how to do it over the next 5 years. And that’s a challenge for many companies. Those 4” strategy binders are a reflection of that ambivalence. Vijay said that it’s time to throw those binders out. They’re not actionable and they’re too detailed. You strategic intent needs to fit on one sheet of paper, and be clear and actionable to the entire enterprise. Otherwise, your aggressive goals won’t be the future. You need company buy-in. And you need your people to build their own path to your goal.