Untangling red tape to EnterFinland from Fjord on Vimeo.
The challenge we set out to tackle with the Finnish Immigration Service was to review, identify and improve the overall operational efficiencies through a better experience for all users; for the people filing applications as well as the staff processing them.
The emphasis of the project was to help simplify the overall application process for people who were planning to move to Finland to study or work.
It has been warmly welcomed and a 2016 survey of more than 2000 users found 93 per cent of applicants gave it a positive rating, whilst 95 per cent of users said they would recommend it to their friends.
We are beginning to see a cultural shift where organisations move away from thinking of people as simply ‘users’ and are instead striving to develop a continual cycle of design and innovation that reflects the needs and behaviours of real people.
In the scramble to align themselves with design-led culture, organisations have typically reverted to a hiring drive to embed design-trained professionals across various project areas. Although leaders in design lay the right foundation, true design-culture doesn’t arise purely from practitioners trained in the field.
Rather, it comes from the privileged standpoint of the user. At Airbnb, for example, every project team has a manager, a design guardian, whose explicit role is to represent the user, as opposed to a particular function like engineering or project management.
Moving forward, organisations can benefit from embracing the following design-led values:
• Empathy: Design-centric organisations empathise with customers through contextual research to better understand what people need, rather than simply applying what they say that they want.
• Humbleness: Design thinkers exhibit a willingness to learn from failure and recognise the rarity of getting things right the first time around.
• Design doing: Design thinking alone is not enough. Ideas need to be made tangible through visuals and physical prototypes that can be tested in the real world.
• Trust: The culture of design requires the preservation of ambiguity and the ability to remain comfortable, despite not knowing the total solution to the problem in advance.
• Collaboration: Innovation is spurred by co-creation amongst a diverse set of people with unique insights. The key to successful multi-disciplinary collaboration is deep professional humility.
• Systems Thinking: Customer-centric, systems-based, problem solving methods are used to understand relationships and the whole, rather than parts or silos.
Any change as significant as the shift to design-led thinking requires support from the top. Whether through gradual adoption or widespread and rapid enforcement, organisations need to reconsider the way they think, act and behave in order for the change to be substantial and long lasting.
Pepsi’s CEO Indra Nooyi initiated a dramatic approach, giving employees just 24 to 36 months to adapt to the change. As a result of the successful transformation, ‘design’ now permeates across all Pepsi’s decision-making mechanisms and, after years of stagnation, the company’s stock price is rising and revenue growth is steady.
At eBay, CEO John Donahoe brought in John Maeda to strengthen eBay’s global innovation capability through design thinking. Their Playbook announced their intentions to the world as they seek to create experiences that are virtually seamless, convenient and enjoyable across their four commerce battlegrounds.
Design-led thinking encourages organisations to pivot towards an outward facing philosophy, underpinned by methods and an experience that respond to the needs, desires and feedback of real people.
Organisations can become cultural interpreters and facilitators and as a result, consumers become engaged and their loyalty is secured.
But as organisations begin to harness design thinking to meet their business goals, they quickly become aware of the challenges that come with implementing change.
Organisations need to nurture the right design skills and long-term success will depend on an organisation’s ability to harness substantial cultural shifts in leadership, change attitudes to risk and failure, and drive openness to collaboration from the start.
Bronwyn van der Merwe is Australia’s Fjord Director, part of Accenture Interactive.
Image credit: Fjord