How can business leaders use design thinking as an essential tool to digitally transform their organisations in today’s pandemic? – Unleash

How can business leaders use design thinking as an essential tool to digitally transform their organisations in today’s pandemic?

How can business leaders use design thinking as an essential tool to digitally transform their organisations in today’s pandemic?
How can business leaders use design thinking as an essential tool to digitally transform their organisations in today’s pandemic?

“Design thinking should be used as a core philosophy for digital transformation projects. It’s not just the stand-alone philosophy but the backbone that goes through the centre of these projects.” Says Guy Parsonage, leader of PwC Experience Centre, Hong Kong.

When applying design thinking to digital transformation, it’s most often about solving for the right problem or challenge in front of you. Especially over the past few months, where everyone’s world has been turned upside down.

The problems we were solving three months ago have all gone away and now we have been faced with completely new complex problems. Overnight, organisations have had to learn new skills and find new ways to deliver to customers.

PwC recently conducted their CFO Pulse survey that asks 871 finance leaders in 24 countries on how they are navigating the disruptions from coronavirus, including what they will be spending their money on in the future. To no surprise, Digital transformation came on top, with automation being a big part of that. Leaders have realised they need to change their business very quickly and sometimes do it without as many people available.

“I believe we’ve gone through the Technology age into a Digital Solutions age where digital is solving a problem through a human lens using technology.”

To create human-centred solutions, leaders need to understand first what the digital jobs to be done are. Starting with:

  1. Knowing which problem you’re solving – If you don’t have clarity of vision of the organisation, then you can’t have digital vision that’s supporting it.
  2. Aligning the whole team, not just the executive team – to get everybody to understand why we’re putting in this system and what problem is it solving.
  3. Building Empathy – Once you’ve got the ‘what’ you’re doing and ‘why’ you’re doing it– the first phase of design thinking is to truly empathise with all of the users or beneficiaries. So that ideally, you’re achieving an overall improved customer experience.

Guy believes, “If you have a problem and see it through the lens of a technologist, then it will only ever solve the problem that’s in front of them. Whereas design thinking expands the problem so significantly to encompass everybody and allows you to align on what problems are to be solved.”

How can business leaders use design thinking as an essential tool to digitally transform their organisations in today’s pandemic?
Guy presenting at the PwC Experience Centre

Most often, business vision can sometimes seem very abstract from the reality and companies get so caught up with the sexy part of digital transformation that usually the communicating, embedding, training and the on boarding get forgotten – the true ‘alignment’ piece that needs to happen. Putting in place a vision session and vision statement helps but it requires multiple levels of communication throughout the organisation.

This is where leaders need to be transparent around transformation and change. It’s not a webcast and an email but instead a feedback loop that is constant. After all digital transformation is really less about technology, and more about people. And design thinking is a wonderful way to start building empathy, workshopping and coming together to solve the problem collectively. It can actually be a proof point of a change of culture and eventually an accelerator of that change of culture.

Although the basics are actually straightforward, the doing is highly complicated.

For organisation who are new to design thinking, these are some quick way to ‘start doing’ design thinking now!

  1. Begin with a highly visible project that people across the organisation care about. A good one could be if you’re moving offices and want to find solutions for the new office or the transition of the moving.
  2. Get some good external advice – if you don’t know how to do it, accept that you might need a level of consultation around it.
  3. Build a cross-functional team – if you’re trying to create change in your organisation, you won’t be able to do it by just having the executive team going through the process. Force teams to solve collectively instead of in silos.
  4. Be highly visible with the success – As you go through the processes, even if the CEO is not on the team, the CEO or the most senior person needs to be the sponsor of the project and needs to be celebrating.
  5. Most importantly, share the story – Capture the process through using your scriber, your videographer and create really compelling content about the process and the results. And bang the drum!

Guy Parsonage is Partner & Leader of the PwC Experience Centre where he is responsible for driving digital transformation and innovation for global and domestic brands within Mainland China and Hong Kong.With a remarkable record in agency leadership, strategic marketing and iconic experience design, he is an industry pioneer. Guy has been using his experience as agency, creative and brand expert and applying those skills to digital consulting.