Prior to the onset of this global pandemic, experts were already predicting an exponential adoption of digital technologies and were encouraging businesses across all industries to engage in the digital transformation journey.
With the dramatic worldwide economic and workforce changes we have been experiencing as a consequence of this pandemic the predicted timeline has markedly accelerated and it has now become an imperative for companies to start or accelerate their digital transformation process. It is now considered critical in order for them to remain viable and/or to retain their competitive advantage in a highly disrupted, digital and virtualized environment.
Even during favorable economic times, the road to a successful digital transformation was filled with hurdles and challenges, requiring a comprehensive strategy and disciplined deployment.
Given the financial pressures and disruption in business operations due to the pandemic, it is now even more difficult for companies to design, deploy and complete all the stages of digital transformation.
To start the journey these organizations or businesses would need to complete a careful environmental risk analysis to understand what has changed in their value stream, what new stakeholders have emerged and what new forces have disruptive potential. Afterwards, they would need to understand what has changed in their customer base. Have they lost customer loyalty, have they gained any new customers or is there an opportunity to enter new markets? Additionally they would have to reevaluate support from their boards or investors and if needed be prepared to pivot or realign the business model.
After these domains have been addressed, they would need to plan a digital strategy that is harmonized with their general enterprise strategy. Additionally they would have to carefully select and build a digital portfolio that will ensure their ROI and long term sustainability.
There are several methods to accomplish this, however the application of design thinking principles seems uniquely suited for a volatile and complex post-pandemic ecosystem due to its agile and human-centered approach.
There are 7 core design thinking stages: empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, selection, implementation, and feedback. It allows for increased speed of implementation, improved user satisfaction and cost savings.
So how would a design thinking powered digital transformation playbook look like?
Change the culture by shifting to a human-centered mindset, encourage creative confidence in all employees and the leadership team, express empathy for all stakeholders, and embrace uncertainty.
Complete an honest risk- and voice of the customer analysis to create an environmental resilience map.
Encourage all employees to brainstorm, ideate and submit their proposals in order to create a viable ideas funnel.
Design, build and test a minimum viable live prototype or pilot and schedule playback sessions within the organization and with key stakeholders to receive valuable feedback.
Throughout this process it would be essential to maintain transparency and open communication with all employees as that will facilitate engagement, acceptance and successful deployment.
After these stages would be accomplished the focus would shift to crafting a state of the art implementation plan in order to ensure long term sustainability and revenue generation.
As stated, design thinking is only one option in the armamentarium available to business leaders. However due to the emphasis on user experience and outcomes, its ability to empower diverse teams and a process that encompasses an ongoing innovative loop it is this author’s opinion that design thinking should be considered as a methodology of choice during this crisis and beyond.