Design Thinking in large enterprises: Top 3 trends emerging around the globe

Photo: Swisscom

In March and April, 76 design thinking practitioners from 42 companies around the world gathered in India, Switzerland and the US under the umbrella of Design at Business: to learn from each other and accelerate the adoption of a people-centered approach to innovation across industries.

Photos: Swisscom, SAP, Jan Schmiedgen; Design: Hyun Lee

Despite how every company in their region differs in its own situation, I see three main similar points that are discussed:

  1. Connecting design thinking to strategy development, cultural change & agile management: Exploring new use cases for DT and showing the value of the approach in various contexts keeps practitioners awake at night. Why not use it to put a corporate strategy on one page, like ING Bank, support change management in putting affected people at the heart of their activities, or help agile teams to define their user stories based on real needs?
  2. Developing people focused leaders and teams: People need more freedom to respond to fast changing customer needs. As a result, power structures are put upside down in organizations. We need to systemically skill-up our people for challenges that go far beyond the current job descriptions in our companies. What do leaders need to do in that context? And which skills describe the role of a design thinker? One of the Design at Business working groups is designing a new approach to skillsets, which is now being tested with HR departments.
  3. Thinking and acting beyond silos: Overcoming team barriers and encouraging people to see the big picture instead of fighting over resources is a continuous challenge. Transforming reward systems inside organizations might be one step. Coming together for the greater good, and wanting to align even across companies is another one to drive the movement forward. At Design at Business, we create a neutral environment for companies to talk openly to each other, and grow together. We’re happy to see other initiatives like DTX in the US going into a similar direction.
Photo: Swisscom

Angela Haas, Senior Human Centered Design Expert at Swisscom, hosted the European group at Swisscom. During 1,5 days the group covered the question of “how to get from thinking to making, and drive cultural change”? Besides seven small topics like “future leadership” or “creative space”, main learnings of the group were: if you really want to have an impact on your organization’s culture and convince your top-management of the value of human-centered design, you better let them experience it (instead of just “training” them), encounter the big picture, be open to link your concept to other areas like agile management and prove that you are supporting your company’s strategic priorities. Read the full report

Photo: Jan Schmiedgen

During 3 days at the IBM Design Studio in Austin, Texas, practitioners and academics came together to share their learnings, insights, and struggles while providing a workspace for everyone to collaborate. Heather Turney, Culture and Innovation Manager at Porsche Cars North America, distilled three main insights of the event:

  1. Design Thinking can be taken up by anyone
  2. The field requires more companies coming together for the greater good
  3. To ensure adaptation and success in the business world, we need to stop talking in code but translate design thinking into a common language known by all

Read the full report.

Photo: SAP

Anirudh Goel, Technology Education Senior Manager — Innovation and Design Thinking at Accenture, invited 14 members from Wells Fargo, SAP, Siemens, Fidelity Management & Research, GE Healthcare, Philips, Bosch, Accenture to their first face-to-face meeting. Main topics the group discussed during one day: How to take the Design at Business Community in India forward, how to leverage DatB to transform the mindsets of the Indian workforce, and make a social impact?

Which trends do you see in Design Thinking? Of which questions should practitioners be aware, and work on to be prepared for the future?

This article was also published on LinkedIn.