“We can’t change it anymore! The board has approved it, we signed the pre-order form for the devices, it has been integrated in the sales plan for next year”. This is a comment we received after a series of customer immersion. We were asked to refine user needs for an innovative solution once the new product had already been conceived and a first prototype was available. During the customer immersion it turns out that customer appetite is limited and that the solution would not really respond to a perceived problem or strong need among the target group.

In fact, we were asked for customer validation too late in the innovation process. Learnings arrived once Corporate structures had already put too many barriers for quick adjustments. However, it’s never too late to start learning and changing mindset for the next round of future success.

Design Thinking is an approach with a set of tools allowing to get closer to real customer problems and hidden needs – and to learn fast. A customer centric approach to innovation shows strong results. Companies that adopt a Design Thinking approach to development have outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 10 years by 211% according to a 2015 study by the Design Management Institute.

  1. IBM is among the design centred companies in this study. In 2017 IBM has even launched a Design Thinking badge program training tens of thousands of employees to develop their customer centric mindset. The objective of the program is to better serve customers.
  2. Another company having started a “Professional Conversion Programme” to strengthen the digital capabilities of employees is United Overseas Bank in Singapore. 900 employees will improve their skills in Design Thinking, customer journey design, channel management and scenario analysis.
  3. And of course successful startups and digital leaders are using Design Thinking in many instances. Global taxi tech company UBER for example has analyzed every single step of its customer experience with Design Thinking methods to identify how they might optimize every second of their service. In one project in 2016 they aimed to perfect the pickup experience. In the user research “curiosity revealed an opportunity to perfect the pickup experience for everyone, everywhere.”

A map of the pickup journey broken into two phases: forming the pickup plan and executing the pickup plan – via simonpan.com


Digitalization is changing customer expectations at an unprecedented speed. Innovation has become a MUST. But volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) have made it ever more difficult to get innovation aligned for success. “Design Thinking beyond Post-its” challenges people to adopt an innovator’s mindset of questioning, learning, experimenting in fast & lean cycles. We call it “Design Thinking in Lean Cycles” (DTLC). This culture of innovation helps to avoid traditional mistakes  – such as finding out too late and running against Corporate barriers. Important detail: Start very early to get close to real customers, really understand user problems and test appetite for potential solutions.

A Design Thinking Jump Event can be a good first experience to get started. In the longer run a change of mindset, process and tools can equip teams with the skills required for future success and responsibilities in the digital world.

Ask us now to get inspired to innovate differently.