Our studio is a mix of open spaces to collaborate and private spaces to focus.

Why 23 is moving to consultancy

Our four-year-old design studio is taking a new shape.

Consultancy always sounded like a boring thing. A McKinsey thing, you know? the kind of thing suits do. And we hate suits.

Our website reads: “We are a design studio based in Mexico City. We’ve worked with more than 200 clients from all industries and from all over the world –from tech startups to government, from Palo Alto to Tel Aviv.”

We are in love with the idea of the studio, we’ve always been. In his book Teaching Design, Jon Kolko explains the design studio in a masterful way:

“A studio is a special place. It feels alive and full of energy. A studio usually has sketches and ideas all over the walls, diagrams on whiteboards, natural light, and big, open spaces. It’s not just a physical place, though. It’s also an attitude. A studio culture is one that values creativity and when you enter a studio you feel a ‘creative vibe’. It feels different than a typical office that may have a fleet of cubes or conference rooms or a typical classroom that may have rows of desks. It feels more like a space of exploration rather than a space of ‘finished ideas’. A studio is also an educational structure or a way of learning. […] Design education is experiential. The studio exemplifies experiential learning.

And this is pretty much the place we’ve been building in the last four years. A place for experiential learning and growth.

A place of discovery and unfinished ideas.

This ideal will not change, however, in the last months, we’ve had some pretty interesting realizations that are reshaping the way we see the studio and our services in exciting ways.

Would you make the designer CEO?

Whenever I start an educational session with business oriented people about design I ask: “Would you make the designer CEO?”. I get a huge unison “Noo” from the audience.

It’s great! Then they give me the chance to make them change their minds.

The more we understand Design, the more we value its strategic nature.

Designers see things differently. Designers think about possibilities and have a bias towards action. As Frank Chimero writes: “Designers imagine the future and work towards it”. Designers prototype instead of creating power points. Designers work backwards and ask “how could I be wrong?” instead of “how can I be right?”. Designers are not experts, they’re curious!

This mindset is game-changing for business strategy.

“In the world of business today, we are rarely 100% right, because that rarely exists. Knowledge workers, more than anybody are paid to be curious. Expertise used to be: “Could you repeat this thing again and, again and, again…?’ and workers needed to do that. Knowledge Workers are paid to actually be curious about the world and to be learners […] so the core attribute is not how much you know, but how much you’re willing to learn and, how much you’re willing to question what you know. If what we want is stuff we know, Google will do that for you, we don’t need to hire somebody to do that!”. Jennifer Garvey Berger, The Knowledge Project Ep. #43

The complex times we’re living at unpredictable. We’re growing orchards, not making shoes. Optimization is not enough, companies need innovation.

Design can be both tactical and strategical, but we believe strategy is where design can create growth exponentially.

The Service Design team, presenting their user research findings.

Business strategy through human-centered design.

Last year we started to measure the business impact of our human-centered design work. Through research, empathy, prototyping and brand, product and service design we’ve influenced our clients’ businesses in remarkable ways:

  • 50% reduction in support tickets for a fintech leader with hundreds of thousands of users through the redesign of their web dashboard.
  • Thousands of new accounts opened every day through a new mobile onboarding experience.
  • 20% increase in the conversion rate and 35% reduction of time of a new service by a public company through service design thinking.

The tools, the workshops, and frameworks we’ve created have been producing a clear impact on the business… and that gives Design a purpose.

We’re already the design firm with the highest launch rate in the market: 92% of our work has been actually implemented, launched and in the hands of real people, and now we are ready to help our clients discover where to play and how to win.

We’re on a unique position to do this, because– unlike traditional, analytical business consultancies – we’ve seen the impact of design in the real world through our collaboration with companies like Bitso, the largest crypto exchange in Latin America whom we helped simplifying the experience of buying bitcoin with local currency or Luuna, the DNVB of bedding products whom we helped launch and start operations in the country and 200+ others.

We know how to create, launch and get feedback from real people, not only stakeholders in the room.

You will still be able to hire 23 to redesign your app, brand or launch your new website, but now you can also hire us to define a go-to-market strategy, find opportunities in your customer experience, help you find a new business model, tackle a new market or build an innovation roadmap.

It’s an exciting moment for Design in México and Latin America, don’t you think?

In the next post, I’ll address Design Fo(u)r – our own business thinking framework–and why we believe design is the ultimate strategy for the toughest user acquisition, retention, monetization and innovation challenges.