Lockwood Resource completes a comprehensive design organization assessment of positions, job descriptions and career paths for a Fortune 500 corporation in the US.
Have you ever wondered which problem is the most important to solve? Do you focus on the smaller problem at hand, or the bigger problem that lies beneath? The answer is yes, to both.
That’s what design thinkers do. They solve the issues before them, while taking a bite out of the bigger issues too, with an eye towards the end game of solving whatever obstacles prevent the desired outcome.
Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology engaging deep empathy of the user, problem framing, user collaboration and co-creation, rapid rough prototyping, objective analysis, and visual, scenario or storytelling synthesis in order to make decisions. Here’s what design thinkers think about:
- They think about problem solving
First and foremost, design thinkers strive to solve problems. Say you are tasked with creating an app for online shopping, because your company wants more sales and thinks the answer is a new mobile app. But in doing contextual inquiry, you discover that your product installation process is way confusing, so your products get bad reviews. You may not really need that new app yet, rather you may need to fix the installation process first, then make the app more applicable.
Design thinking is a more strategic approach to problem solving. If the definition of design is solving a problem, then the definition of strategic design is solving the right problem. Design thinkers do both.
- They think about others
The essence of design thinking is not the designer, product manager, engineer or marketer – it’s the end user. Design thinkers treat users as partners and co-creators, and seek to understand, not to persuade. In Wired to Care, Dev Patnik, CEO of Jump Associates, states “Companies prosper when they tap into a power that every one of us already has – the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people”.
- They think about context
If you’re focused on understanding others, than contextual inquiry will be your best tool. Get out, walk a mile in your customers shoes, and experience what they experience first hand. In doing so you will discover unmet needs and surface the pain points – first, seek to understand.
Contextual inquiry will also open the door to identifying problems across the entire customer journey. Particularly for services, design thinkers explore the whole customer experience, or journey, and create service design blueprints and expose what users feel to be their high points and low points of their experience. Then, fix the low points.
- They think about front stage and back stage
Since the holistic customer experience is the accumulation of touch points, design thinkers are border crossers. They seek to understand problems at the “front stage” – the top level touch points, and at the “back stage” – the processes and systems that lie beneath. Since these problems cross company departments and functions, engaging a cross-functional team on user inquiry can help diffuse company silos and resistance to change. But be careful, design thinkers can get caught in department cross-fires!
- They think about the future
Not content with status quo, design thinkers are creators, future makers – not the know-it-all type, but humble explorers. They keep asking, “What could be”, regardless of constraints or context. According to Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer, 3M, “We have a role much beyond making things. We think about the future and imagine what that could encompass. The job of design is to stretch, to be a stretch agent.”
Design thinkers not only seek to create better situations for people, they believe it’s possible to succeed. The personality profile of design thinkers includes traits like optimism, experimentation, collaboration, synergy and creativity. Design thinkers thrive on imagining new concepts, having conversations, communicating with visuals, scenarios and story telling, and creating a better future.
- They think about design
Creating a concept is the first step, but everything, yes everything, eventually has to be designed, albeit a product, service, process or experience. Design thinkers are about how to design all this. While many design thinkers are trained as visual, UX or product designers, many others are trained as anthropologists, researchers, engineers or marketers, or any background for that matter. Regardless of background, one thing is in common; they like to create the ideas, scenarios and solution concepts. There is no set degree or credential required to be a design thinker, thank goodness!
- They think about open innovation
Likewise, design thinkers don’t limit ideas to a single department, but rather engage very broadly. Methods such as open innovation and design-led innovation are paramount to design thinking. The best innovation methods involve many people, and design thinkers leverage the creativity of all people, inside and outside the company. Embracing your creative intelligence is at the core, as Bruce Nussbaum argues, to use creative intelligence to “harness their power to create, connect and inspire”.
- They think about the company, the organization
Design thinking is applicable in any organization – for profit or non-profit; public or private; government, education, healthcare or hospitality; for products, services, processes or experiences; small or large. That’s the beauty of design thinking.
What’s more, design thinking is a way to build cultures of innovation, from the bottom up. In True Alignment, Leadership expert Edgar Papke suggests that it is possible to manage and change corporate culture; I’d like to suggest that design thinkers can be the change agents.
In my opinion, design thinking is the most effective methodology for problem solving out there. It crosses the barrier from company to user, from constraints to solutions, from quantitative to qualitative. Unfortunately, design thinking is only being taught at a handful of educational institutions globally. But fortunately, there are thousands of creative, smart, open-minded, forward thinking individuals out there that are embracing design thinking like a fire storm!
Note: I published an excerpt of this on Fast Company Design, Six key ways design thinkers approach problems.Change management, Corporate culture, design culture, Design leadership, Design thinking, Human-centered design, Innovation culture, Open innovation, User experience
Given the right context and corporate culture, User Experience leaders can do amazing things for any company. Much like Design Leaders, here is a snapshot of what the best UX leaders lead, and it goes far beyond usability.
UX is about making new experiences, services and products, and this requires process discipline and methods know how, coupled with creativity. UX leaders are adaptable to any kind of process they face – Agile, Sprint, Waterfall, Stage gate, Scrum, ISO, departmental and company based. Great UX leaders can make great things happen regardless of process requirements.
User experience involves many people, and UX leaders know how to assemble great cross-functional teams, guide and inspire them, and create synergy. Great UX leaders are great people leaders – they ask more then they tell, laugh more than they criticize, have tons of empathy, and yet are straightforward in their critique and remain focused on content.
- Front stage and back stage
Beyond creating the desired user experiences, great UX leaders coordinate the front stage and the back stage platforms. Front stage being the user facing experiences, and back stage being the technical enablement’s underneath. Great UX leaders get both, and based on the principle of user-centered design, can create better experiences both inside and outside the company.
UX leaders are connectors – connecting technology, new services and products, connecting different platforms, connecting different functions in the company, and connecting the company to it’s customers and followers. In fact, UX leaders help connect the company to all it’s stakeholders, internal and external. After all, every company touch point is an experience, and the best UX design leaders help orchestrate the best experiences.
Keep in mind too, great experiences don’t just happen, they are designed. A background in design, any design discipline, can help give grounding, context and empathy. Yes, many professionals can lead a UX department, but I think that behind every great UX leader is a creator, designer or concept maker at heart. According to Bob Schwartz, General Manager, Global Design & User Experience, GE Healthcare, “Great design and user experience are inextricably linked and interdependent.”
UX leaders bring meaning to the experience, and also to the brand, because a brand is not just what you say, it is what you do – UX leaders are about the do. They ask, how do the apps work? How does the customer journey progress? How does the mobile experience integrate? How well do the services perform? How does the user respond? UX is about making relevance, and UX leaders make products, services and brands more relevant and meaningful to all stakeholders.
At the end of the day, UX leaders are the chief advocates of usability – even if it requires crossing boundaries, technologies or platforms. Again, they are the connectors, and the best user experiences stem from the best UX leadership, usability, human factors and human-centered design. According to ISO 9241-11, usability involves “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” Yes, the UX Leader owns usability too.
UX leaders are future creators – UX leaders lead the creation of new apps, services, products and customer experiences. They help take the company, and its’ customers, to new places, to new experiences. UX strategy guides us all to the future, in little steps. Great UX design leaders help lead a company to it’s preferred future state. Finding and recruiting great UX leaders is an art and science unto itself, here are some tips about our Design-based recruiting (sm) methods.
Career planning, design culture, Design leadership, Design organization, Design thinking, Design-led innovation, Innovation culture, Innovation recruiting, User experience, UX leadership, UX recruiting
As design school grads launch into their chosen professions, it’s a good time to remember that your career is the one design project that you control. And, like design, there is no single right answer, but there is an array of options. So the path you take is entirely up to you.
Just consider the dazzling career trajectories of the following industrial designers:
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, started as a footwear designer. Designer Bob Schwartz became the General Manager of Global Design for GE after heading up the Industrial Designers Society of America. Mauro Porcini, a long-time designer at 3M, became a SVP Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. Jonathan Ive joined Apple as a young designer in 1992 – his second job following an ID stint at Tangerine in London – and the rest is history. And after woking on designing the Microsoft mouse, Steve Kaneko has gone on to become Director of UX Design for the company.
Other industrial designers successfully forged very different paths. Nathan Shedroff, designer turned entrepreneur, has lead California College of Art’s MBA Design Strategy program. Former IDSA chief Cooper Woodring went on to become an expert witness in patent litigation. And Brian Cheskey, a RISD alum, co-founded and is the CEO of Airbnb.
And what about former visual and communication design students? David Butler is now the VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Coca-Cola. Dana Arnett became the CEO of VSA Partners. Kate Aronowitz rose to the Director of Design at Facebook and has since joined a finance startup, and Shelley Evenson became Director of Organizational Evolution at Fjord.
Ask yourself – what is your own professional destination, and how will you get there? To answer that question, I’d suggest to apply design-thinking methods to your career and treat it like a design problem. And keep in mind that designers can take on important leadership roles in all types of companies.
Here are a few challenges that might arise between your first job and your dream job.
Design problem #1: You don’t have a direction
What should guide you in career planning above all is your passion. Ask yourself these questions: What do you believe in? What values influence your work? What is your vision for the future, what do you want to be known for in three years, in five years?
There is nothing like contextual, user-centered research, even in career planning. Find two or three mentors and explore alternative design careers from their perspective. By shadowing and consulting with others you will learn more about yourself, which can help you decide what direction you want to go. For example, at one point in my career, I decided to shift from visual design to either product design or architecture. I couldn’t decide until I shadowed an architect, a stint that made it very clear that architecture wasn’t for me. A new path only becomes clear if you are in motion, so break down the goals into bite size projects and get started.
Design problem #2: You’re not excited to be a manager
In a corporate setting, usually advancement goes something like this: Designer to Senior Designer to Design Manager to Design Director. And management is just part of the bundle; managing projects, people, budgets and clients. In fact, it’s core. So think of it as an all-inclusive opportunity. But what if you’re not the manager type? You can let your career stall, or find another career path by becoming a niche design expert.
Granted, it’s almost impossible to advance and move way up the pay scale without becoming a manager of people and projects. But there are some great “semi-manager” roles without all the baggage of formally managing staff. Consider the paths to Creative Director, Concept Creator, User Experience Architect or Design Strategist; all with great opportunities for advancement, higher compensation, and a focus on content.
Defining a career progression completely sans management responsibility is very rare, but some large companies like Lego, P&G, Microsoft, GE, Mars and Philips have career tracks for top designers to advance via non-management positions. The trick is to get onto a “fellow” track and progress from Designer, to Senior Designer, to Chief Designer, to Design Fellow. A few examples are Bill Buxton, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft, and Lawrence Murphy, a Chief of Global Design at GE Healthcare.
Design problem #3: Stiff competition
You’ve got to be on top of your game, because there are oodles of designers out there who all want a piece of the action. In the U.S., about 70 schools offer degrees in industrial design, but in China, there are 866 industrial design schools with about 50,000 graduates every year. And there are considerably more graduates in visual design. The competition for design jobs is global and intense.
And don’t forget, there is competition for the top jobs from non-designers too: Bill Grant, the President of Grant Design, majored in English and psychology; the first global VP of Design for P&G, Claudia Kotchka, started out as an accountant; Stanley Hainsworth, who held a design leadership role at Starbucks started out as an actor; and Boris Anthony, head of Experience at Nokia, studied linguistics.
Design Problem #4: A shifting design landscape
The role of designers and design leaders is changing fast, and becoming far more complicated as the desire to coordinate all user touch points increases – connecting product design, UX design, service design and customer experience. For example, who “owns” UX, a UX designer or a technologist? Who owns customer experience, a designer or a customer service pro? Who owns service design?
Can future design leaders really design their careers in such a shifting landscape? The answer is a definite yes. Designers are experts at problem-solving, so when you encounter a challenge on your way to becoming Chief Design Officer, just take a step back, empower yourself, and design your way through it. Plus, designers are in high demand because every company in the world needs great design in order to compete today. It’s what HR calls a scarcity function, so there should be many opportunities.
Here is a little glimpse into What’s Next in Design Leadership.
Becoming a top design leader doesn’t just happen, it takes planning, strategy, and hard work. An aspiring designer should simply treat his or her career like any other design problem – define it, work the problem, and then solve it.
Design leadership, Design management, Design organization, Design recruiting
Just wrote about 5 key trends in design leadership and design thinking for Fast Company. Design finally has a seat at the table, here’s what is next … full post here.Change management, Corporate culture, Design leadership, Design organization, Design recruiting, Design thinking, Design-led innovation, Open innovation
Thomas Lockwood will speak at the IDSA Western conference; “Design: Do, Lead, Do, Lead”.
Lockwood Resource filled the position of Associate Creative Director for an industrial design firm client in the Northwest.
Lockwood Resource is retained to fill the position of Vice President Industrial Design for a leading manufacturer in the Midwest. And, we filled the position of Creative Director for a leading design consultancy on the West coast.
I’ve had many opportunities to collaborate with Mauro Porcini, SVP & Chief Design Officer, PepsiCo. We developed a conference together in Milan, have been speakers at conferences in Seattle, Boston, London, Copenhagen and a small town in Norway, Advisers to DMI, and attended many other activities. I’ve deep admiration for what he has accomplished professionally, and the light he carries advancing the role of design in business. He’s not only a great guy, he has some great insights about building a corporate culture of design-led innovation. He was just interviewed by IIR for their upcoming FUSE conference in Miami this spring, here are his comments about integrating design and corporate culture:
“Your company needs to develop a space for design to exist and express itself in deep integration with the business units but with the right empowerment and freedom. Isolation in ivory towers is the worst mistake. Central to this is the principle of co-leadership between marketing and design, to drive brand building and innovation. Whereas the business leader is the ultimate owner of the brand destiny, marketing and design must be deployed together to create, develop and manage the brand vision and strategy.
To make this happen in a non-design-driven culture, you need both a top down push and a bottom up effort. A top down push requires sponsorship and protection from the CEO or a top executive, while a bottom up effort, integrated across the company, allows the entire body of the organization to own the new design culture and drive it with you, project by project, brand by brand. In order to accelerate effectiveness, you should always hunt for some quick business wins to prove the value of this new culture. This endeavor will sometimes mandate taking shortcuts or compromises and ignoring some chapters of the book of the perfect designer, putting the bigger picture in front of you. Once you acquire the right credibility, trust and a seat at the table within your organization, you will then have time to consolidate all your efforts for the perfect design vision and finally deliver sustainable innovation and long term business results.
To drive all of this you need design leaders with the right characteristics to strive in such situations. Remember: the quality of your design leaders is the most important asset you need and it trumps any process or framework. You need design leaders with knowledge, vision, passion, resilience, optimism, empathy and curiosity. Without them, don’t even start.”Corporate culture, Design leadership, Design management, Design organization, Design strategy, Design-led innovation, Innovation culture
General Electric, the nations largest industrial company, just announced it is moving it’s headquarters from Connecticut to Boston. Of their 360,000 G.E. employees globally, only 800 will go to the new HQ in Boston. What I find most interesting is that the New York Times reports that of the 800 going to headquarters only 200 will be top executives, the other 600 will be “digital industrial product managers, designers and developers”. Talk about design having a seat at the table!
There is more and more solid evidence like this of companies shifting from engineering-driven to design-driven, from product-centric to customer-centric, and from marketing focused to user experience focused. It’s a sign of the times. And a sign of design impact.
Prediction 1: Executives want to collaborate more with designers, design thinkers and design leaders, and they are making room for them.
G.E. executives say “The new headquarters will be leaner, faster and more open with a constant flow of industry partners, customers and innovators.” The intent, they say, “Is that it will be more like walking into a start-up in an urban setting than the remote suburban headquarters of the past.” This move fits the recent pattern at G.E., analysts say, “It affirms G.E.’s digital technology orientation and that strategic commitment for decades ahead,” said Steven Winoker, an analyst at Bernstein Research.
Prediction 2: Workforce and workspace will be redesigned for design thinking, open innovation and collaboration.
Last year both G.E and IBM announced plans to hire over 1,000 UX designers each, 2,000 new designers! Both companies recognize the value of design-driven innovation and design-driven customer experience. Traditional big business is hotter than ever on the importance of user experience, design and design leadership. We’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg.
Prediction 3: Demand for experienced UX designers, service designers, design researchers and design leaders will increase.
LinkedIn just released their 2016 Global Recruiting Trends report. LinkedIn surveyed 3,894 talent acquisition decision makers across the globe, 55 percent of who manage small or mid-sized businesses (SMBs). Regarding SMBs, LinkedIn found that 62 percent of respondents expect their hiring volume to increase in the 2016, the SMB hiring managers said their biggest roadblocks in landing talent is providing the desired compensation, losing candidates to competitors, and lack of awareness or interest in their brand on the candidate’s end. It’s tough for SMBs to compete with the Fortune 500 brands, especially with those recognized as being the most innovative.
Prediction 4: Hiring competition will gain in intensity between big brands and SMBs.
Boston Consulting Group just released their 10th annual global survey on the State of Innovation. The top ten companies are Apple, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Samsung, Toyota, BMW, Gilead Sciences, Amazon and Daimler. See the full list here.
According to IDSA, the Industrial Design Society of America, most respondents to the survey rank innovation as either the top priority or a top three priority at their company – the highest percentage since BCG began asking the question in 2005. BCG also reports science and technology continue to be seen as “increasingly important underpinnings of innovation, enabling four attributes that many executives identify as critical: an emphasis on speed; well-run (often lean) R&D processes; the use of technological platforms, and the systematic exploration of adjacent markets.
Prediction 5: The competition for top innovation and design leadership talent will be more intense.
Here is a list of the 100 best innovation articles in 2015 from Innovation Excellence, which claims to be the “World’s most popular innovation website”. It is interesting to note that seven of the top 11 innovation articles are about Design Thinking.
Prediction 6: Design Thinking will be even more embedded as a core business practice across the globe.
There is a serious competition for creative talent and I would argue that there is no more critical role for any company to develop, large or small, than design leadership. With the term “design leadership” I’m including leaders in product design, user experience design, service design, brand design, tangible innovation – it’s all connected, and it all needs a unique kind of leadership. Plus, in the past, competition was between companies with good design against companies with not so good design. Using design strategically made it easy pickings, so to speak – think Apple, OXO, Dyson, Philips, Audi, P&G, etc. But now everyone caught on. So the future is about companies with good design competing against companies with good design. The point of competitive advantage will be on effective design leadership, not just design alone.
Prediction 7: Emerging fierce competition for the top design leadership talent.
In the recent LinkedIn study SMB talent acquisition managers also predicted that their biggest recruiting challenges in 2016 will be finding candidates in high-demand talent pools. It’s clear that design leadership talent, UX leadership, design thinkers, design strategists, design researchers, and service designers, etc., are all high-demand areas.
Prediction 8: Since design and creative leadership is high demand, these positions will be more difficult to fill.
The LinkedIn study also found that companies want to improve their sourcing techniques in finding and attracting passive candidates (passive candidates are people who are not actively looking to change jobs). I recently attended a national conference for recruiters which featured a panel discussion with seven passive candidates, all experts in their fields. All the panel members all agreed – they don’t want to be found or contacted by recruiters, they don’t return emails or phone calls from recruiters they don’t know, and they turn off or disguise their online profiles. But they do value conversations with peers and with niche recruiters who have specific knowledge about their function.
Prediction 9: Effective recruiting for top talent in high demand areas will be peer-to-peer with hiring managers and experienced niche recruiters.
There is a plethora of new apps, aggregators, job boards and online sourcing platforms, each claiming to be the best tool. Generic recruiters love them, and there is massive outbound recruiting activity. But it’s mostly one-way, and mostly being dodged by top niche talent. Facebook and Amazon currently engage over 500 generic contract recruiters each, who are all are blasting away trying to make new pals online. But the best candidates don’t want to be bothered by junior generic recruiters. Truth be told, the conference panelists and moderator agreed, internet recruiting tools alone are not so effective.
Prediction 10: Mass recruiting on social media is great for mass recruiting, but not for niche top talent.
A more thoughtful recruiting strategy that yields more relevant results is developing your hiring managers, and engaging with retained recruiters that are focused on a specific functional niche, like Lockwood Resource. How do you know if a recruiter is an expert in a functional niche and not a poser? Just look at the career experience of the recruiter – have they actually worked in the position they are recruiting for themselves? Have they walked a mile in the shoes of the positions they are trying to fill?
2016 will be a year of employment growth and strong competition for niche top talent. High demand areas such as design leadership, design thinking and innovation that will be even more competitive and more difficult to fill. But have no fear, there is no more important area to build than design leadership, in order to create effective innovation and great customer experiences. Take a tip from G.E., fill your headquarters with design leaders.Corporate culture, Design leadership, Design recruiting, Design thinking, Innovation culture, Innovation recruiting, Sourcing, UX recruiting