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As we all know, we are currently living a very interesting era. World is undergoing an intense transformation and speed of change is accelerating. New ecosystems are shaped and existing ones are on a constant move. Everybody is talking about disruption and how their current business will disappear. Customer expectations shift rapidly and new trends keep coming and going. How to predict the future or keep up with the pace of the change is the question many businesses are asking.

Dualism - as a solution

As humans, we have a natural tendency to split things up into opposing parts. Every day we can observe dualism: good and bad, logical and creative and so on. No matter where you go, dualism is there and it can be experience all the time. How to transfer this into the business environment and to make these opposing forces work together to our mutual benefit?

Company's culture must enable and cherish true collaboration - daily

Everybody knows that innovation and creating something new is hard and it takes a lot of time and effort. Best ideas tend to pop-up naturally, when people with different skills and backgrounds are put together, to work in an iterative way. It is crucial to keep up the balance between different dimensions; in our context typically business, customer and capabilities. Sometimes working with different dimensions can be painful, but this collision must happen or the best potential might not be achieved.

  1. As designers, we need to understand better what is the business goal and how it links to the company's greater vision.
  2. For business, it is mandatory to understand what customer problem we are solving and what needs and expectations the customer has.
  3. And not to forget, does the business have the required capabilities to make this change happen?

As a designer, it is delightful to see what happens when working closely with business and strategy teams, also known as "Men-in-black", brings to the table. Imagine, what happens when these counterparts truly collaborate, bounce ideas and reveal all the hidden potential! Left and right side are finally wired to work together - sounds like serious fun.

  • Rational + Emotional
  • Facts + Intuition
  • Logical + Creative
  • Sequencing + Imagination
  • Technology + Human
  • Conservative + Bold
  • Assumptions + Validation
  • Suits + T-shirts
  • Excel & numbers + Watercolour
  • Alone + Together
  • Over-engineering + Good enough to proceed
  • Quantitative + Qualitative
  • How + Why
  • Obedience + Misbehaviour
  • Serious + Fun
  • Business + Art

Strategy belongs to everybody - designers too?

The meaning of strategy can be simplified as a plan to gain a certain benefit. It is very hard to see that it could be owned just by one field only, it should be the end results of the diverse process. By taking best parts of both worlds, it's possible to ensure that we see the challenge through different lenses. We all can complement in a way that helps us to reach the set goals. Only tools and means vary in different fields, but they aim to the same goal.

Collaboration with "Men-in-black" is finally here?

The importance of empathy and mutual respect is rising and as designers we play a very central role in this. "We want to make the difference in people’s everyday life" is the typical answer when asked why we are designers. As designers, we are interested of many things and we follow closely what is happening around us in order to understand what this means to users and how it should be reflected in services we are creating. That very same curiosity should be applied at the office when working with "Men-in-black". We should stop whining, take an action and start to think how to shift our focus towards business and strategy work. If designers are not expressing their interest into business, for sure they are kept away from that table. And naturally this goes both ways.

Typically design projects in large corporations can be tricky for a designer because critical decisions are already made before the design phase even started. A reasonable amount of effort is required to push the boundaries already set if needed, typically leading into collision between business and design. The impact that design enables might not take place at all.

In a corporate level the bigger challenge is to think about the linkage between company's strategy and new business initiatives. It gets so easily broken when strategic guidance is missing. And how the top management can learn from new business initiatives when the feedback loop is missing? Typically, in big companies there are quite a many new business initiatives ongoing simultaneously, so the impact can be significant. Can even the biggest and wealthiest companies afford this?

What is preventing us from bringing together best of both worlds?

We all want to create meaningful services with a great business impact. At BearingPoint, with the help of our Strategic Business Design approach we combine different skills and people in a way that help our customers to create digital competitive advantage.

We need to think business and design as parallel activities that are constantly in a dialogue, not just in some rare checkpoints. We want to collide people, ideas and even companies. After all the recipe for success is simple and almost universal through the different industries:

Research, Ideation, Validation, Implementation

Please feel free to leave your thoughts on comments and if you wish to know more, don't hesitate to contact us.

Author

Sami Loikala, Head of Customer Experience & Design

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