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Why You Need to Establish a Design-Thinking Culture Across the Enterprise

The shift toward applying design thinking is a response to the need for speed, innovation and breakthrough solutions to address today’s complex business challenges. Forward-thinking organizations are focused on creating design-centric cultures that foster new ideas and reshape old ones. The following are 3 critical keys to the successful scaling of design thinking.

1. Envision the future by creating shared understanding. A dichotomy exists between managers and designers. Managers are planners and have to rely on the past and the present to project the future. Designers, however, are taught to break from the past to build for the future. They are tasked with creating or recreating, which results in change and requires collaboration and buy-in throughout the process.

Employing design thinking across an organization requires managers to think like designers and designers to think like managers. It bridges that gap and encourages a healthy dialogue about what’s worked and what hasn’t. The design thinking process generates new, shared insights. Great ideas emerge based on a mashup of ideas in ways that haven’t previously been considered. Breakthroughs come from the recombination and reframing of ideas, both old and new.

“To realize its full value, design thinking must be pushed beyond Innovation Centers to everyone in the organization, with the goal of improving all aspects of the enterprise, not just product development.”

2. Invest in your talent to embed a mindset and skillset. Design thinking forces organizations to decide if “up-skilling” existing talent or hiring new talent will result in the best outcomes, both short-term and long-term. A Harvard Business Review spotlight focused on Samsung’s multi-year effort to transform their business to a global innovator. Senior managers thought the best approach would be to bring in a well-known Korean designer to lead this monumental change. Lee Kun-Hee, Samsung’s chairman, thought otherwise.

In his quest to develop in-house design capabilities across the organization, faculty members from a renowned art school were brought in to deliver custom in-house training that transformed the company’s talent into strategic thinkers who were fully invested in the mission and future direction, resulting in an increased level of tenacity to overcome resistance, influence others, implement change and drive innovation.

Lee’s vision and dedication to up-skilling existing talent helped launch its global-leading mobile division, and gave rise to its domination of the global television market.

3. Ensure alignment between organizational culture and business objectives. To empower teams to be design thinkers, senior executives must focus on aligning culture and structure with strategy. Ananthan Thandri, VP & CIO, Mentor Graphics provided more insight in The Argyle Journal.

“Taking the time to explain an organization’s goals and how employees can help it achieve these aspirations can be incredibly empowering” he said. Communicating the important values and expected behaviors, such as risk taking, openness to new ideas, rapid decision making and willingness to fail fast, all emerge from a culture of transparency and openness that starts at the top.

  • How do you kill design thinking?
  • Fear the unknown
  • Resist change
  • Squelch different thinking
  • Fear risk taking
  • Isolate strategy from execution

Design thinking allows organizations to thrive in today’s ever-changing landscape. To realize its full value, design thinking must be pushed beyond “Innovation Centers” to everyone in the organization, with the goal of improving all aspects of the enterprise, not just product development. It requires the right mindset and toolset embedded in a culture that supports risk taking, divergent thinking and freedom to collaborate.

4 Things CEOs Can Learn from Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger

plane-in-distressAs Sully opens at the box office, moviegoers are learning more about the emergency landing that Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made on the Hudson River in January 2009 after the airliner struck a flock of geese. The miraculous landing wasn’t just a first in aviation, but a spectacular feat in control, confidence and rapid-fire decision making under extreme circumstances.

Whether they’re facing a product liability, an employee scandal, or a big drop in share price, CEOs can find great leadership lessons in how Captain Sully handled the emergency.

1. Prioritize and make the best decision, quickly. Gerry McNamara—global managing director of the CIO practice at Korn Ferry International—was on the plane that day and said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Sully acted with “absolute clarity.” McNamara said Sully “said what needed to be said and did what needed to be done,” an ability he said many executives lack. Since that day, McNamara said he has learned to identify real leadership; and while many executives know how to delegate or manage, few know how to lead.

“There are a hundred things [that] could be done, but they have difficulty sharing the five things that must be done and communicating them with clarity, so that people understand the mission and get behind [them],” said McNamara.

“The biggest misconception is that leadership and management are the same thing. They’re not. But we need both.”

2. Build experience and knowledge, then follow your core values. Sully said in a 2014 CBS interview that leadership “starts with core values and the willingness to actually live by them.” He said leaders need to check their ego at the door and be willing to do things to serve a cause beyond their own needs. Sully said those three minutes and thirty-eight seconds were a reflection on his entire career.

In an interview at the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) conference in Orlando, Fla., that all professionals need to engage in lifelong learning to constantly expand their skills. “I have been making small, regular deposits throughout my life of education, training and experience in this bank and on [that day] when we were suddenly confronted with this…the balance in that account was sufficient that I could make a sudden withdrawal” said Sully. “We never know when that moment is going to come.”

3. Remain calm and assess the situation. Yitzchok Saftlas, CEO of the Bottom Line Marketing Group, said in a post that Sully harnessed the emotional impact of the emergency to his advantage and did not let panic cloud his judgment or decision-making. “We have always practiced for emergencies that might arise. This one was so sudden and so extreme that I had to suppress my natural adrenaline rush, quickly channel it, and not allow it to distract me,” said

Sully said in the ASU interview that between the time the geese hit the plane and they were in the river, they had only 208 seconds to solve a problem that they “had never seen before.” He said aiming to have a deeper understanding of your profession can help one attain confidence, have clear priorities, and control their emotions, even in unfamiliar and foreign situations.

4. Take charge and trust in your team. CEOs know they’re only as good as their team, but it sometimes can be challenging to put complete faith in others in a time of crisis. Sully said that leaders can lead well by creating a culture of excellence and collaboration. While Sully was responsible for landing the plane in the Hudson, his crew was credited with helping keep passengers calm, then getting them safely on the wing after the plane had landed.

“The biggest misconception is that leadership and management are the same thing. They’re not. But we need both,” said Sully.

Ten Questions You Should Be Asking to Embrace Risk and Lead Confidently in a Volatile World

Whether it’s a value-destroying crisis, a shift in industry dynamics, or a brand threat, uncertainty comes in many shapes, sizes, and impacts. Leaders who view uncertainty and risk more broadly than just compliance will anticipate better, seize opportunities, and emerge stronger. From inviting in devil’s advocates to war gaming, there are many ways to prepare—even if you don’t know exactly what’s around the corner.

10 questions

Looming threats. Big bets. Emerging trends.

To succeed in today’s world, leaders have to welcome and embrace uncertainty.

High-stakes uncertainty can take many forms. It can be a crisis around the corner, a major acquisition down the road, or an actual industry disruption.

Learn more in the 10 questions report.

Mid-Market Report

Bring Back Community Banks

It’s become axiomatic among small- and mid-market CEOs and their advocates that the Dodd-Frank financial reforms of 2010 disproportionately hampered the community banks on which these companies so rely for capital. Meanwhile, another piece of legislation made it more difficult for startups to use credit-card financing to bootstrap their way through infancy.
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