Just the other week we had 30 students from ECU’s Miller School of Entrepreneurship visit—a group of enthusiastic young women and men bursting with ideas about enterprising businesses, mobile apps, and sustainable efforts to help society and the planet. I was blown away by their passion and drive to create and to succeed. If these are the business leaders of tomorrow, I think we’ll be ok.
The group was here for a studio tour and to see what owning and running a business is like. As a design, innovation, and experience firm, we could act as a sounding board for their best ideas and questions about how, what, and why. Why purpose is so important to a business today. How to create a name, a brand, or a product from scratch. What that process entails from strategy to design to deployment. We talked about how we had helped both large and small corporations do just that for three decades. And we happily shared some of our team successes. The discussion then turned to best practices for starting, running, or scaling a business, and what impact that has on the business’s need to continuously innovate product, culture, and brand.
Throughout the morning and into lunch, we kept coming back to the need to define your business’s purpose, and then design every part of your business. Just as you design a new product, service, or brand. Every question about HR or customer service or operations is another opportunity to show how design thinking can and will transform their business model into a series of interrelated customer experiences—each intentionally designed to translate human needs into business solutions, buoyed and supported by an integrated design and brand strategy. We emphasized that the business doesn’t have to be a start-up to achieve success with this method. Ongoing concerns can be, and are, transformed every day. Then a question caught my ear. “So that’s the way every company runs?”
“Sadly, no. But they could.”
What about your company? As CEO, are you bringing human-centered design solutions to the core of your organization? How is HR solving those wicked problems around recruiting, retention, or onboarding personnel, and then mindfully integrating them into a culture that grows and expands with them? How are customer service, sales & marketing, and new product development working together on your customer’s experiential journey? Fleshing out pain points, and developing integrated and designed solutions? How is supply chain working with your brick and mortar to maximize efficiency on deliveries while minimizing stress on employees and physical space requirements? How are you solving brand awareness issues with brown-box deliveries or bad customer experiences with direct shipments?
These are everyday issues our clients face. All enterprises have human-centered needs that directly impact business goals, marketplace reputation, brand position, and product or service’s success factors. Design thinking can spotlight the root of problems—not just their symptoms—and then provide a disciplined path to reframe the problem and solve it through design.
The end-result design thinking is what we shared with our 30 bright visitors…and now with you. Your business goals become aligned. Your brand is transformed into a higher performing organizational asset. You have better product and service design results and a healthier business model—one focused on creating positive cultural behavior toward your brand and its products or services. Your recruiting gets easier, as your elevated brand reputation attracts great candidates. Your employee retention rises because you now nurture brand ambassadors. Your operations run more seamlessly because your supply chain and vendor relationships are stronger and your business is preferred over others. Lastly, you provide a greater purpose to your business, profit, and shareholder wealth, and a sustainable position as a leader in the marketplace. All through design. If you’re still looking for your design thinking partner, perhaps we can help.