Bill VanEron, Brand & Stakeholder Relevance, Headwaters Marketing & Innovation LLC

Where does design thinking sit in an organization?

Yes, design and systems thinking are powerful forces, especially when they challenge their own status quo. Like a volcano, we blaze new paths beyond destructive status quo limitations. Unlike a volcano, more like streams that shape rivers of value up and downstream, it puts risk aversion fears to rest and become relevance advocates.

As a longtime professional designer, we steadily refine our ability to seek enlightenment, see what most miss, to shape higher originality, value and relevance. I learned this skill in the world’s most demanding market — NYC. In high tech, our path to relevance is often fed to us by people with a lesser view, yet who define projects. When I learned that we, as designers, were doing ‘hero marketing’, thus the only layer of HP relevance, I left my top ranked design comfort zone in HP to immerse myself two years into HP’s customer facing stakeholder ecosystem, it was a rich combination of design and systems thinking plus a conscious value creation compass that made it HP’s greatest overall performance decade, as just a preview to how design thinking shapes a more compelling future all can share in. Contrary to the trend for risk aversion, success that follows relevance, has very little risk designed in. You can stay risk averse. Just become relevance advocates to see and enable that in others.

Design thinking helps us to see needs, trends and values most miss. Certainly left brain dominated firms and boards ignore this, thus they struggle for trust & relevance. It’s problem is being too compartmentalized versus the skill-set all can benefit from. When Charles Prather designed and tested 200,950 leaders over a ten year period, the principles the test was designed to pull up, were far more common in design thinking. As the only design thinker taking his test, I posted the all time highest score, while also now aware of the tenets defining new leadership. While replacing a CEO is not my goal, despite posting the highest score in a new leadership test given to 200,959 leaders over a ten year period, adding a Chief Brand & Stakeholder Relevance Officer is an action I can champion. Then sales, marketing, leadership, HR and PR can thrive.

Systems thinking helps us to shape far more effective sales, marketing, HR, PR and SW solution design efforts as it creates inclusion and solutions appeal to more across ones ecosystem. It’s challenge is the approaches that isolate innovation. Case in point; we all hear a lot about AI and how it will eliminate jobs at a time when what we stand for is more important than what we make. Plus human stakeholders decide this. Thus attention to humanity, skills and greater value should be on an equal pace.

A conscious value creation compass is the new intuition as we almost immediately know how and where to shape value all others regard highly. Most fail to pay attention to value creation and that inattention just increases the positive outcomes for those that do pay attention.

To answer the question as to where design thinking sits in an organization, it is also trapped in its own status quo- marketing, new product design and more.

Sales, marketing, leadership, HR and PR are all trapped in a closed culture and the lack of earned trust. Design thinking and the other two skills are key to leadership, boards and all functions. I hope to serve on a couple of large or mid-size boards as one who can and has built that foundation repetitively, reliably and with high agility.

Are all your employees inspired to be their best? Do they know how and where these skills are needed? 90% of corporate employees state CEO’s fail to inspire them.

Do they get recognized and rewarded when making timely contributions? Having a purpose that benefits others is the surest way to inspire employees to be their best.

In a time when success follows higher relevance, are you still lagging? Self reflection a trait managers admire in employee’s, is now the task all true leaders need to apply.

Are managers mostly risk averse thus closed to anything new & better? In my 25 years applying these higher impact actions for a variety of Fortune 500 firms, not one was ever thought of as risky. All increased trust, purpose and relevance.

Does revenue growth exceed 32% with frequent revenue boosts based on earned trust and relevance. With this effort, supposed $50M NPI’s easily topped $500K and projects doomed to fail, rebounded as high multi-billion dollar projects. Decades of bottom line thinking has all but obsoleted qualified management to make this values-based business model leap.

About the author: Bill Van Eron loves technology, while also being a longtime champion for greater relevance. All tech firms struggle with the notion that tech tuned to humanity sells faster then tech to tech. Bill proved this out every time for HP, HPE, Agilent, Keysight and Novel where every effort greatly increased revenues, market share plus business and stakeholder human relevance.




Proven brand and stakeholder relevance strategist. My 25 years at HP, Agilent and Keysight Technologies revealed how most biz can be more compelling.

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Bill Van Eron

Bill Van Eron

Proven brand and stakeholder relevance strategist. My 25 years at HP, Agilent and Keysight Technologies revealed how most biz can be more compelling.

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