On The Road To Systemic Innovation: What NOT to do.

On The Road To Systemic Innovation: What NOT to do.

On The Road To Systemic Innovation: What NOT to do. 2448 3264 Diana Sonis

This is Part 3 in the On The Road To Systemic Innovation series. Part 1 discussed whether your organization is set up for innovation in the first place, and Part 2 gave you Practical Steps to get started.

You won’t be able to avoid all mistakes because – let’s face it – life happens. It’s part of learning. Don’t be afraid to make them. However, with extensive practice in the field, we can unpack a few common missteps we’ve seen organizations make on the road to becoming a more human-centered organization.

1. Jumping into it too quickly. One client we worked with – let’s name him Joe – had a clear vision for the next 5 years. Joe wanted his Fortune 100 consumer goods company to tap into their customers’ real-time needs on an ongoing basis. To do that, Joe knew he had to empower all his employees to connect with customers. He gathered everyone for a company-wide meeting and simply told them, here’s the new normal. People were excited, because – let’s face it – it sounds exciting to be on a mission. And then….everyone mostly went back to work, promptly abandoning their newly found powers as day-to-day tasks piled up. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “a goal without a plan is only a wish.

2. Assuming everyone is on board. One of our favorite sayings is, “assumption is the mother of all f-ckups.” When something is self-evident to you, give yourself some credit. You may be the ONLY person who sees it as obvious. What’s great about this is that you can show your leadership chops; the downfall is that you may have a lot of cajoling ahead of you. If you can’t fathom spending the time to convince your “half-wit” colleague of your vision, abandon your plan now. There is no certainty that you will get your organization closer to human-centricity, but there is a guarantee that not everyone will be on board. Prepare.

3. Ad-hoc attempts at becoming human-centric. One of the most common ways things go wrong when using human-centric methods (like Design Thinking) to solve business problems is doing it in piecemeal, one-off workshop way. Here is a scenario: Some executive hears or reads about Design Thinking or some related method. S/he gets very excited because it sounds like a hot fix for all their problems. An expert team/consultant is hired to facilitate a day or two of workshops. Everyone laughs a lot because it’s fun and you’re playing hooky from your day-to-day job. The expert team/consultant wraps it up and goes home. And then what? What have you learned? How will you apply it long-term?

The point of human-centric processes is to promote systemic change, which takes time and a lot of repetition.

Workshops and trainings are just the beginning; merely an intro into methods and tools. These exercises won’t establish long-term, structural changes. To become a human-centric business you’ll need to rinse, repeat with a lot of patience and a crystal clear vision of your goal.

Tell us in the comments below, what mistakes you’ve made on this road? Part of learning is sharing your stories!

About the author

Diana Sonis

Diana is a passionate believer in holistic, 360 strategy and design, with extensive expertise in UX Design, CX Design, Service Design, and the Design Thinking methodology.

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