Kevin Gilboe is the head of design for international businesses at 3M. Based in Tokyo from 2015-2019, Kevin led the development of a network of 3M Design studios spanning Japan, India, China, and Korea. Within the Asia-Pacific region, 3M Design engages with a broad range of brands, programs and customers across the automotive, consumer electronics, infrastructure, architecture, health care, and retail sectors.
Kevin, who will be speaking on Design Thinking at the People Matters TechHR 2020 in Singapore, throws light on how organizations can leverage design thinking to drive cultural changes in the organization and fostering innovation.
What is the best way to adopt the concept of design thinking when it comes to planning and driving cultural changes in an organization?
Design Thinking starts with great designers. It’s critical to understand that designers, by nature and training, will bring a unique perspective that will challenge the organization. At 3M, Design Thinking is a human-centered mindset, skillset, and toolset that empowers us to drive a customer-first approach and build a culture of collaborative creativity. When planning and driving successful cultural change by Design, executives must create conditions where diverse ways of thinking are encouraged and supported. Design Thinking is not strictly a “process” that can be replicated by anyone: it requires the right talent and experiences to create value. In short: the best way to adopt Design Thinking is to adopt Design!
How can “Design Thinking” be used as a problem-solving approach for fostering ideation and bringing in innovative products and services?
Three key points are essential to set a Design Thinking exercise up for success:
1. Great Design talent
2. Great Insights
3. Great Teams.
Design Thinking, like designers, never succeeds alone. A strong collaboration with the right subject-matter experts and a shared team mission for the project is essential.
Without a clear view to the real-world issues and empathy for the end-user to anchor everything, Design Thinking can rapidly become a valueless exercise in wishful thinking. And again, great designers bring talent in storytelling, ideation and visual communication that supercharges all of this.
What are the key steps in using Design Thinking, starting from building empathy with users to rapid prototyping?
Every organization finds its own recipe for success in Design Thinking. Setting up the exercise is critical in bringing together great Design talent, insights and teams. In my experience, it’s the setup that is always the hardest part. Classically, executives value an action-oriented approach. Thoughtful planning, organization, and team-building don’t look like the “doing something” that many equate with progress. But if you get the setup right, the team is likely to harness its own capabilities to build what they need for success. The last thing you want is a broken team, with the wrong insights data, going through the motions and hoping that “the process” will save them!
How should the culture of an organization be designed to prepare itself for the future?
Cultures that do not embed continuous learning eventually become brittle and fracture when the world inevitably changes. I think most companies understand this, but they struggle with the balance point of accountability. Expecting employees to fully “own” their own development on an extracurricular basis may appeal to certain schools of thought, but in my experience the usual result is stagnation. On the other hand, a typical business isn’t a university: strong competency is needed to perform. An effective culture, built for the long term, will recognize that space must be made and rewarded for learning! Paraphrasing “The Lean Startup,” ROI is not so critical as ROL i.e. Return on Learning.
Design Thinking at 3M is a problem-solving approach centered around empathy for people.
How should organizations manage change through Design Thinking intervention?
A better word might be “inspiration” or “infusion” – if Design Thinking is intervening I would not expect much success! Design Thinking at 3M is a problem-solving approach centered around empathy for people. It builds on existing business processes and provides learnings and tools that influence a culture of collaborative creativity. A modular, practical approach is effective because it is flexible, iterative (non-linear), visual (tools and outcomes), collaborative (cross-functional) and experimental (rapidly prototyping). All of these capabilities are highly relevant to sorting out organizational change. It’s no coincidence that a primary task of Design at many companies these days is the “Design the Company!”
Do not miss your chance to meet Kevin. Join us in Singapore for People Matters TechHR 2020, Asia’s Largest HR & WorkTech Conference on 19-21 February 2020. Click here to register.