Have you noticed that in framing the problems facing us, most of us are already formulating a solution? Design Thinking tools and examples from start ups show the value of taking the time to invest in the front end–developing empathy, uncovering the right problem to solve and testing prototypes before committing to the full launch.
It is not enough to congregate people on a shared online platform. The more you help them use the platform and the relationships and ideas it engenders to bring about results that they could not create outside the community, the more value you generate for them.
For most nonprofits growth and, in fact, survival is equated to an unceasing struggle for more resources —revenue, staff, members or customers. The mantra is “more”—more programs, members or revenue will solve their problems. Yet, in today’s economy it is leverage rather than quantity, innovation rather than production that yields solutions. Take the case of Facebook cited in a Fast Company article.
Developing staff and cultures is not a matter of imparting information or instituting special “activities.” They are the outcomes of cultures of on-going learning and experimentation, and applying lessons learned to achieve constantly new improvements and innovations.
Most of us “play it by ear” when it comes to the execution of a new concept. Our focus is on acquiring ideas or information—planning, reading, discussing, hearing or analyzing them. When it comes to execution, we rely on the same old tools we always used and settle for ad hoc activities and initiatives. Yet one cannot achieve systems-wide change by “understanding” the concept or generating detailed plans. What these require are fundamental changes in the way organizations think and behave.
It is the execution of change rather than the ideas, themselves, where the rubber meets the road. Paradoxically, however, there are no tools or systems approaches for “executing” innovation.
Startling as the recent presidential election results were, they would not surprise Design Thinking followers. In many ways, they validate the reasons Design Thinking came into existence–the limitations of data-driven logic– and illustrate its principles and alternative methodologies.
Do you measure customer value through short term revenue generation and direct sales or through the long-term relationship you build and the possibilities that will be uncovered over time? Chances are you can’t have it both ways. Decoupling sales from engagement will contribute to your organization’s growth.
Instead of conventional, vertical paths for growth–e.g. increases in membership numbers, products or markets–focus on innovation, especially innovation on the customer experience. This is the fulcrum of opportunity and value today.
Announcing a new dynamic, fast-paced, hands-on workshop for innovative CEOs on December 15.
Abstract visions of the future or well-meaning promises and expressions of appreciation become reality only when they connect to specific ways individuals can benefit from them immediately—whether these are opportunities for additional income, concrete new skills they can market, a share in profits or decision-making.