Daily Design Inspirations 32: 13 inspiring examples of design thinking from Japan (#dailydesigninspirations)

Great piece I read today.

As digital technology becomes more sophisticated and penetrates more parts of our lives, the importance of design thinking increases, too.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to spend a week or so in Japan and there were several bits of everyday and unassuming design that struck me.

Read on. 

Daily Design Inspirations 31: Joe Gebbia: “Design the Farm!” (#dailydesigninspirations)

Just yesterday, at the end of a Design Challenge, we were discussing the age-old battle between the designer and the product manager. And the oldest question that is asked of a start-up: which should come first.

Joe Gebbia, in this brilliant interview points out that one doesn’t need to think that way. But design the farm instead!

Excellent watch! Here on youtube.

Joe Gebbia
Joe Gebbia


Design News: The Street – Why the Financial Services Sector Should Embrace Design Thinking

Kunal Vaed, a senior vice president and the head of digital at E*TRADE Financial in New York, shares how the company applied Design Thinking to transform customer experience. Appeared in The Street.

Design Thinking has certainly captured the zeitgeist of our times, moving beyond the realm of digital-product management. Financial services institutions need to evolve to rapidly embrace design thinking or they risk disruption at the hands of nimble start-up companies.

Design often connotes simply a beautiful product, without enough attention focused on its utilitarian aspects. This is ill-fated, as a well-designed product or experience solves a human need and is something with which users want to engage and for which they want to advocate.

Simply said, design thinking places the user at the core of an organization’s agenda. It spans traditional functions within product development such as experience design and visual design, all the way to strategy and innovation.

Through extensive customer research, designers identify not just the functional needs of users but build true empathy. Designers create propositions to best serve these needs and continually test these hypotheses with customers.

The financial services industry is the perfect sandbox for design thinking. The reasons are simple.

 The industry facilitates many of life’s biggest decisions: buying a house, saving for retirement and paying for children’s education. Planning for retirement is an emotional topic, so this makes thoughtfully designed experiences a necessity.

In addition, investors face an array of complex investment choices, which require scrupulous analysis prior to investing. Design can address the complexity of investing and empower users to feel confident in the decisions that they make.

 At E*TRADE, design thinking allows the company to help investors get smarter.

E*TRADE’s approach to design thinking takes its cues from the Double Diamonddesign process, developed by the British Design Council. There are four stages in this design process: discovery, definition, ideation and delivery.

In the discovery phase, designers and product managers conduct research to understand customer pain points. This phase is divergent as we search for new questions and unmet needs.

Techniques such as customer listening are effective enablers.

In phase two, E*TRADE synthesize customer research and converge to the problem statement. This requires ruthless discipline to ensure that the company isn’t boiling the ocean.

Creating customer personas highlights differences in needs and aspirations of various customer groups. Customer journeys illuminate the path of the customer as they complete a task navigating outside and inside E*TRADE.

Next, E*TRADE creates early prototypes to visualize potential concepts in the ideation phase. Customers are part and parcel of this process and co-create these concepts.

Last, convergent thinking is employed to deliver a high-fidelity prototype, which is ready for developers to code. In this final phase, customers play a vital role in testing the usability of the new experience.

Consider E*TRADE’s new Adaptive Portfolio offering, which combines automated advice with access to financial consultants. Early on, in the discovery phase, E*TRADE’s research showed that customers were seeking peace of mind and transparency in their search for the right investing solution.

So E*TRADE designed with a simple problem statement: to help users go from idea to investment in five minutes. During the ideation phase, E*TRADE paid special attention to create an uncluttered design for the risk tolerance questionnaire, with intuitive questions, actionable steps and persistent help.

E*TRADE also heard that customers were interested in confirming their tolerance for risk before finally signing up. So E*TRADE designed a series of engaging visualisations to compare and contrast the company’s model portfolios by risk tolerance.

Finally, in the delivery phase, E*TRADE conducted usability interviews with customers to further optimise the work flow. E*TRADE is measuring interaction data across this experience and continue to refine it based on user behaviour.

Employing a user-centric mindset in the brokerage industry comes with its challenges, given the spectrum of users. E*TRADE has sophisticated traders who have honed their craft over the years and instinctively deploy a virtual army of strategies as they move in and out of positions every day.

At the same time, E*TRADE has buy-and-hold investors who take long positions for income and are more interested in long-term performance. Finally, E*TRADE has delegators, who are interested in self-adjusting solutions such as Adaptive Portfolio that are professionally managed.

Making sure that the design is flexible enough to scale becomes paramount.

There are four key considerations that can help strike the right balance.

  1. Share the glory. Customers and stakeholders across the organization need to co-own the outcomes. The financial services industry needs to place particular emphasis on co-creation given the complexity of investment choices and the changing regulatory landscape. Connecting designers, product managers, engineers and compliance experts early and often creates a shared responsibility.
  2. Get commitment from the top. Senior management needs to set the tone for the importance of designing an exceptional customer experience. E*TRADE Chief Executive Paul Idzik listens to several hours of customer calls every week and encourages employees to “put themselves in the customer’s shoes” at all times.
  3. Create an aspirational north star. Every organization needs to find purpose in its customer agenda. This agenda needs to speak to all, from customer service representatives, to engineers to designers to operations staff. In fact, the company has memorialized eight design tenets in posters and digital screens across E*TRADE to remind employees of what it means to deliver exceptional customer experience.
  4. Test, learn, re-test and re-learn. The user-centric mindset means the process is iterative. Design thinking fits perfectly with E*TRADE’s continuing transformation toward an agile software development process. Continuously analyzing data on how customers are using products and services ensures that E*TRADE evolves and learns.

Investors have entrusted the companies in this industry with a major responsibility: to help them manage their money.

Furthermore, their expectations are being set by digital leaders outside the financial services industry, who are constantly upping the ante. As a result, their expectations will only increase.

This industry has a narrow opportunity to embrace design thinking and position the customer at the core of its agenda. This has significant implications on talent mix, product development processes and tools, and project portfolios.

The most profound impact is in transforming the industry’s culture to be design-forward.


Daily Design Inspirations 28: Jeanne Liedtka on How to Think Like a Designer (#DailyDesignInspirations)

I learned Design Thinking from her. And she remains one of the stalwarts in the space of Design Thinking, as a teacher and a practitioner.

Jeanne has been involved in the corporate strategy field for over 30 years. She is a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, where she teaches both MBAs and executives and consults on innovation, organic growth and design thinking. Beginning her career as a strategy consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, she has served as Associate Dean of the MBA Program at Darden, Executive Director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation, and Chief Learning Officer at United Technologies Corporation.

Jeanne Liedtka’s model

Here she argues that learning to approach problems the way Designers do can be a useful way to spark innovation. (Original link from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business)

HBR: How IDEO Designers Persuade Companies to Accept Change

May 17, 2016may16-17-hbr-012-culture-1200x675

Every design project extends beyond the brief. No matter how straightforward and discrete a project seems at first, it will unfold in the context of a complicated, networked, and messily human organization. That means that part of a designer’s job must be to design tools, conversations, experiences, and environments that help the organization embrace innovation and change. At IDEO, we think of this as designing interventions.

We approach intervention design in a variety of ways, depending on the shape and scale of the organization and the innovation we are working to enable. But every intervention involves designing experiences for a project’s stakeholders that go beyond logic and engage the emotions inherent in the question “Why should we change?”

Here are the three main tools we use:

Transformative empathy

When stakeholders are having trouble imagining things being different than they are, or when they are extremely removed from (and even judgmental of) their customers, the experience of being wholly immersed in somebody else’s perspective can free up their thinking. The desired outcome is that stakeholders come away from the experience in agreement about the challenge we are solving and with a felt understanding of why things need to change.

More than any organization I’ve worked with, Weight Watchers employees are in tune with their customers’ needs and feelings. That’s because so many of them are members. But even for them, over time, it’s easy to lose touch with the intimidation and anxiety new members feel the first time they cross the threshold of a Weight Watchers meeting.

A few years ago, Weight Watchers engaged IDEO to create a vision for the future, ­which often implies a digital future. However, our early research pointed to some real value in taking a hard look at the meeting, the central feature of the Weight Watchers experience. With that in mind, we designed an intervention for our client team: a visit to a mega­church in Dallas, TX. A mega­church shares qualities with a meeting – convening people with a shared goal, while also triggering similar insecurities: “Do I belong? How should I behave?” We hoped it would remind our team of New Yorkers what it feels like to arrive at a Weight Watchers meeting for the first time.

Our hypothesis proved correct. The IDEO and client teams looked for every excuse possible to get out of attending the service at the mega­church. “There’s so much traffic, is it really worth it?” “We can just stream it on our phones!” We all but turned around on our way there. But we made it, and were surprised by how embraced we felt as we crossed the threshold. Even though we were late, parishioners greeted us at the door, provided us programs for the service, and guided us to an available pew – with no questioning looks, which was our unspoken fear. We all left with a new perspective, and without saying anything to each other, we knew we had to redesign the experience of showing up at a Weight Watchers meeting.

The transformative empathy intervention shifted the focus of the design challenge to not only include Weight Watchers’ digital future, but also the meeting room.


When stakeholders don’t feel capable of changing the way things work today, and when there are naysayers among them, we involve them throughout the design process — in questions, prototypes, and iterations along the way. The process of co-design should make everyone responsible for approving and implementing the new vision feel invested and confident in the design.

Interbank, a Peruvian retail bank, engaged IDEO to design a more accessible banking experience for the emerging middle class in Peru. One pivotal moment of co­design occurred during a day of live prototyping in a retail branch.

Our prototype was based on a question: Will customers trust a line­free experience of waiting? In other words: if I’m not physically in line, do I trust the line? To answer this question, we worked closely with Interbank staff, including senior leaders and tellers, to transform the bank from a room full of stanchions and queues to a lounge area with soft seating and a digital queuing system. We then watched the day unfold together, testing our hypothesis that people would welcome a break from standing in line.

Customers not only appreciated the new experience, but also used the time to talk to each other and to look at the educational materials on the coffee tables. They were less agitated and even friendly to tellers once it was their turn. At the end of the day, Interbank leaders, our core team, and the bank staff debriefed about the day.

Shared vision

When we need the support of a large and disparate group of stakeholders – perhaps more than we can involve in a transformative empathy experience or in co-design – we create a vision of the future that brings stakeholders together around where they are going and helps them imagine what it might look like. A compelling shared vision fosters a sense of belonging and inspires a group of people to create change together.

Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network (CPBN) came to IDEO in early 2014 to create a future vision for their organization. As they approached their 50-year anniversary, they looked out at the next 50 years and knew they needed to make some big changes – but what, and how?

While CPBN is a relatively small organization, they sit within the national web of public media, and have multiple businesses from radio to education, each with a complex funding model. This makes it easy to get lost in the logic of what it will take for CPBN to embrace a future vision ­ but also all the more important. A shared vision is key to building a more resilient organization, one that’s primed to keep pace with an increasing rate of change.

During our project, we turned an open space at CPBN headquarters into a gallery that displayed work-in-progress components of the vision, including quotes from Connecticut residents, a draft purpose statement, and an audience promise. We invited everyone in the organization as well as board members and outside partners to walk through the gallery and participate in creating the vision. This led to a healthy dose of debate and discussion, enabling the organization to arrive at a strong and shared stance for its future: to be the bravest public media organization, exploring topics in ways no private organization can, and empowering its audience to make the world a more extraordinary place.

As you try out these approaches, remember that no single intervention is likely to change a system. You’ll need to employ different approaches at different stages of any project, depending on the stakeholders and the challenges involved. And don’t forget that intervention design is about emotion as much as logic; when we are creating something new to the world, by definition there isn’t enough evidence to get us where we want to go. Successful interventions are felt experiences, above all, so identify the emotional outcomes you hope to achieve, and then design a way to reach them.

Ashlea Powell is a Senior Director at IDEO New York with a background in writing and design research.

DeZeen Magazine.

Milan 2016: from the end of the fame-chasing student, to the rise ofcreative directors at furniture brands and the future of the kitchen, Dezeen editor Anna Winston highlights eight trends from this year’s Milan design week and Salone del Mobile that could have much wider implications for the industry.

Designers launching brands

Qeeboo Online design brand launch Milan design week 2016Stefano Giovannoni is the latest designer to turn entrepreneur with the launch of his own brand Qeeboo

The royalty system – where major brands hire well-known designers based on the idea that they make a small profit from each product sold – is no longer a viable way of making a living for some big-name designers, who are making the most of the possibilities opening up online to launch their own brands.

Examples from Milan included Stefano Giovannoni’s Qeeboo, Sebastian Wrong’s Wrong London (launched with backing from Danish brand Hay) and architect Matteo Thun’s Atelier line, building on a trend that started to trickle through last year with the likes of Luca Nichetto and Claesson Koivisto Rune seeking new ways to bring products to market.

Read more about why these big-name designers are launching their own brands »

The end of the fame chasers

tamara-orjolo-forest-wool-design-academy-eindhoven-touch-base-milan-design-week-2016_dezeen_936Forest Wool by Tamara Orjola, which uses wasted pine needles, was one of the projects that suggested design students have shifted their priorities

At the other end of the spectrum, students from around the world showed work that suggested a change in priorities.

“They used to want to work by themselves and now they actually want to work for other people,” said designer Andrea Trimarchi of Formafantasma, who teaches at Design Academy Eindhoven and added that the school no longer produces students who are interested in chasing design fame.

Instead they are focusing on work that can help society and on experimental work with materials, he said.

Design Academy Eindhoven’s Touch Base show, focused on tactility in an increasingly digital world, included a project to find new uses for waste pine needles by student Tamara Orjola. Another group show was solely about material development.

“When you came to the Salone five or ten years ago and went to the student shows, they all wanted to be Philippe Starck but more famous and a lot richer,” critic Alice Rawsthorn told Dezeen in Milan. “Now they want to save the world.”

“Even if some of these very altruistic and ambitions designers end up designing toothpaste packaging, I think they will do it a lot better by engaging with these concerns,” she said.

Find out more about why students are losing interest in fame »

Flat-pack furniture

Bouroullec sofa for HayThe Bouroullec brothers’ Can sofa for Hay was one of the self-assembly pieces of furniture that was unveiled during Milan design week

Ikea might be the biggest design company in the world, but it’s taken a while for the high-end design market to catch on to the possibilities of flat-pack furniture.

Normann Copenhagen was among those to take the lead from companies like Hem, unveiling a range of self-assembly lounge chairs with Danish designer Hans Horneman in Milan, while Hay unveiled a flat-pack sofa designed by the Bouroullec brothers.

See more from the new wave of flat-pack furniture »

Furniture for children

H-horse by Nendo for KartellKartell launched its first range of children’s furniture, which includes a transparent rocking horse by Nendo

Kartell was among the brands and designers that jumped on the idea that children’s furniture could offer designers a lucrative new revenue source, launching its first kid’s range – including a transparent plastic rocking horse by Nendo and racing cars by Piero Lissoni. Big Game created an adjustable children’s chair for Magis, while Front also created a rocking horse for Gebrüder Thonet Vienna.

“It is a huge market with very high potential, and many offers in terms of furnishings and toys,” Kartell president and CEO Claudio Luti told Dezeen.

Read more about the potential of the kid’s furniture market »

The rise of the creative director

Bertjan Pot designs bespoke Jacquard textile for Cassina's iconic Utrecht armchairBertjan Pot’s new fabric for the Utrecht chair by Gerrit Rietvelt featured in Patricia Urquiola’s first collection as creative director for Cassina

One of the hottest stories at Milan was the unveiling of the first collections from Italian brand Cassina under the creative directorship of Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola. Widely considered a triumph, the collection included new products and updates to the brand’s classic designs – like theUtrecht chair by Gerrit Rietvelt with a new fabric by Bertjan Pot.

David Chipperfield also unveiled the latest collections for Driade under his leadership, having debuted his first showroom interior for the brand last year, while Molteni&C announced the appointment of Belgian designer Vincent Van Duysen as its creative director, with the aim of giving the brand “a more sophisticated look”.

Read more about the rise of the creative director »

Big consumer brands get serious about design

Prestige Pepsi bottle by Karim Rashid for Milan design week 2016Pepsi was one of the megabrands who took the spotlight this year, revealing a new bottle design by Karim Rashid

Nike, Pepsi, MINI and Audi were among the big brands that impressed in Milan this year, upstaging traditional design brands with ambitious installations. Pepsi even revealed plans to beef up its design team from 100 to 160 and open studios around the world.

“These brands are not here to sell to us any more,” wrote Dezeen editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs. “They’re here to learn, to experiment, to take risks and engage in dialogue.”

“They’re here because they understand what design is and they are using it in ways that are in many cases more intelligent and daring than the traditional design brands, who seem to have run out of meaningful ideas.”

Read more from Marcus Fairs’ Opinion column about design brands in Milan »

The kitchen of the future

offmat-disappearing-sink-kitchen-research-milan-design-week-2016_dezeen_sqTipic’s smart Tulèr kitchen featured a sink that appears with the wave of a hand

After years of stagnation in kitchen design, two projects appeared at Milan that offered a glimpse at what might be possible. Design duo Kram/Weisshaar unveiled the SmartSlab table, made from razor-thin ceramic with embedded technology for cooking food, warming plates and cooling drinks on one seamless surface.

But it was the viral popularity of the Offmat Tulèr kitchen’s disappearing sink, conceived by design studio Tipic as a way of creating more usable surface space, that might make the bigger brands believe that there’s public appetite for more innovation.

Find out more about the Tulèr kitchen of the future »

Rethinking office furniture

In Our Office by Lund University students and Rolf HayIn Our Office by Lund University students and Rolf Hay showcased office furniture for smaller workplaces

Milan wasn’t the first time we’ve heard that office design needs a rethink now that everyone is fed-up with the “Googleification” of the workplace, but the idea began to crystallise in two collections that debuted at the fair.

Students from Lund University collaborated with the co-founder of Danish brand Hay to produce a range of experimental furniture especially for small-scale workplaces, while Lensvelt unveiled a range of intentionally “boring” chairs, desks, room dividers and other accoutrements.

Empathy. The Cornerstone of the Philosophy, the Principles, the Process of Design Thinking

I conduct Design Thinking talks and programmes quite frequently. And during most of my sessions, for audiences as varied as Finance professionals, Sales managers, HR leaders, Engineers and Designers, someone from my participants always asks me: “but isn’t the idea of creating solutions based on User needs common sense? A no-brainer? A piece of wisdom from our grandfather’s time?”

And my answer is invariably and emphatically “YES!”

And yet, when we dive in to understand the and apply Design Thinking, I see participants struggle to do exactly that. Immerse themselves in the User/Stakeholder’s experience. Observe, Engage, Watch and Listen, for clues and signs that tell of habits and behaviours, needs and interests, fears and desires. The critical “why” behind decisions and actions, the “what” behind causes and motivations.

Everybody knows the need for Empathy. Everybody understands the significance and implications of User-Centred thinking, before designing and solutioning. Yet, very few can practice it.

Because years, maybe lifetimes of conditioning, experiences, frames of reference and biases come in the way of objectively looking at data and facts, to take in user experiences for what they are, and not judge and prematurely evaluate. The conflict between what we think “we know already” and the surprising realities of “what we find” when we observe are not easy to reconcile with. We are not listening beyond the noises in our heads, and missing important clues that can help us make sense of the world. What Tim Brown at IDEO calls “sense-making”.

And yet, there lies the only way ahead. The ONLY way to Customer Centricity, to meaningful solutions and products, to real innovation. To counter assumptions and biases, and understand, really understand what really matters. That’s why we start with Empathise, before we can even Define the problem to solve.



To be clear, this focus on Users neither rejects nor diminishes the knowledge and experience the participants bring to the table. Subject-matter expertise is not only a critical multiplier of Design Thinking, it is also essential to developing meaningful, collective insights or points of view (as further source of data).

However, there is no alternative to Empathy and generating insights through Empathy research. And it is the cornerstone of not just Design Thinking, but getting better in life. As David Kelley puts it “The main tenet of design thinking is Empathy for the people you’re trying to design for. Leadership is exactly the same thing – building Empathy for the people that you’re entrusted to help.”

Empathy helps us understand other people, put ourselves in their shoes, and only when we are able to do that can we see things from different perspectives. And that is what we need to solve their problems, and improve our situations.

Here’s a great video on Empathy. Empathy is something that can make us better as human beings. And also create better cities where we listen to citizens, schools where we listen to students, relationships where we listen to partners. Empathy is our sign of success as a race, and our hope for the future.


Daily Design Inspirations 25. ‘CONCURRENCE’ Interview with Sudhindra V. Chief Design Officer, IBM (#dailydesigninspirations)

#Designthinking #Design #Innovation

“Design is not a job skill, it is a life skill, one that touches every aspect of your life. I believe that design is an attitude. When you’re a designer, you’re a leader; you’re creating a world, one that doesn’t exist yet. But design has also become a much-abused term. I believe designers should take the responsibility to make sure the essence of design is retained.”

Sudhindra V.’s brilliant interview in the latest Concurrence. Get your copy today! 


CO.DESIGN: Frog’s Ex-President Brings Design Thinking To Academia

3058198-poster-p-1-ex-frog-president-doreen-lorenzo-to-join-faculty-at-u-t-austinDoreen Lorenzo—formerly of Frog and Quirky—is running a new integrated design program at UT-Austin.

“It used to be you went to school and became a graphic designer or an industrial designer, but that’s all changed,” says Doreen Lorenzo. “Now design is about problem solving and critical skills. Long gone is the sole inventor.”

Lorenzo should know—she’s been a leader in the design industry for nearly two decades, serving as president of both the prestigious design firm Frog and the invention platform Quirky (she also writes a column for Co.Design). At the beginning of March, Lorenzo announced that she has taken a position at the University of Texas at Austin to oversee an initiative to integrate design thinking into the curriculum across the university.

As director of the Center for Integrated Design, Lorenzo will work with faculty in fine arts, business, engineering, architecture, and computer science to create a program that will allow students to study design from a multidisciplinary perspective and earn either a certificate or degree. The idea is to encourage students to use the school’s many different resources to learn about design as a problem-solving system, a concept that the professional world has already embraced.

These days, you can’t sit through a boardroom meeting without hearing the words “design thinking.”

“Business moves fast,” Lorenzo says. “It used to be, you had these 18-month, two-year product cycles—that’s all changed. Now you have rapid innovation, you’re constantly iterating, you’re constantly designing. You almost don’t have time to teach people all the fine nuances, so the more that we can make our students able to jump in and help, the more valuable they are going to be.”

This is something Lorenzo learned first-hand working at Frog, the innovative design and strategy firm behind projects such as Humanitarian Data Exchangeand the Kidaptive learning app. During her 16 years there—7 of which she served as the company’s president—Lorenzo saw the company grow from a boutique firm with 50 employees to a global company with 1,000 employees and 11 offices worldwide. She ran Frog as a team-based organization, hiring people with a variety of skill sets and experiences. “What I saw from the design world very early on, from working at Frog, was that you needed to work in a very integrated fashion,” she says. “In order to get a product out the door, you needed different people to come in and work with you.”

Integrated design eventually reached the business world, which today recognizes the importance of problem solving and working across disciplines. Now you can’t sit through a boardroom meeting without hearing the words “design thinking.” “Businesses caught on, everyone’s a software company now—you have to understand software and technology because that’s how you get up to speed,” Lorenzo says. “Academia has slowly been getting up to speed.”

Some integrated design university programs do exist—MIT Media Lab and Stanford’s d.school are two well-respected examples—but they are relatively small. UT-Austin is one of the biggest public universities in the country, so the program will be implemented at a much larger scale. Other programs also tend to be at the graduate level, training students who’ve already had work experience. At UT, Lorenzo will reach students before they enter the workplace, where “design” doesn’t just mean making a product. It might mean solving a human resources issue or operational problem. “If we can give them critical thinking skills and teach them problem solving and how to work cooperatively, they have a better chance at success,” Lorenzo says. “And they have a better chance of finding something they never knew about. They don’t have to wait until graduate school.”

How Design Thinking Can Improve Your Marketing Plan: Lessons From IBM Design Studio: Forbes:

by John Ellett, CEO and leader of the CMO Accelerator at nFusion, and author of The CMO Manifesto: A 100-Day Action Plan for Marketing Change Agents. He writes in Forbes on Design Thinking

As marketers focus on developing engagement programs and brand experiences that are consumer-centered, there are many parallels with designing software products. I recently visited the IBM Design Studio in Austin Texas for a tour and a discussion with Melody Dunn, Chief Design Officer for IBM Commerce. Dunn has previously held several marketing leadership positions prior to her new role so much of our conversation was centered around lessons marketers can take from the Design Studio.

Here are five tips that may help you be a more effective designer of your marketing plan.

Start from the customer’s point of view – Dunn has worked with marketing departments across the globe. She has observed a common need in many of them. “Marketers really need to focus on their customer’s experience. A lot of times marketers tend to be very inward focus and think about their products and services, what they have to say and how quickly they can get it out. Each customer is going to be different. Some prefer certain types of channels, others don’t. You can’t treat everyone the same. I think that’s going to be come even a bigger challenge for marketers in the future because there’s such interdependence with technology from the customer’s perspective, how they choose to engage with you. It’s very easy for them to disengage if you don’t do the right things. They expect you to know them on a personalized basis. We’re still not taking a lot of that into account.”

Enroll multiple disciplines in planning – Collaboration has been a key to Dunn’s success as a marketer and design leader. “Marketing has a whole process. Marketers have to collaborate with others. It’s that collaboration that makes marketing really, really powerful.” To design new products, IBM brings together three disciplines. “We’ll have offering managers, sort of the GMs of the product. We’ll have the actual designers, the people who will be doing the creative interaction patterns or visualizations of that. Then we’ll have the actual engineers and developers. So we call it ‘Three in a Box’” said Dunn.

IBM Design Studio

Create physical collaboration spaces – IBM has been changing its remote working practices recently. Dunn explains it this way. “It seems like in team sports the players should all be on the field at the same time. There’s nothing like looking someone in the eye and reading body language, and making sure you got alignment, consistence and understanding. You can do that remotely but I think it’s harder. When you’re all together it just goes faster.”

Embrace agile methodologies – As a software marketer, Dunn applied lessons from her design and development counterparts. “We learned to have a daily scrum and to work agile to do jobs you don’t normally do. It was really eye-opening and it was liberating too because we broke out of the old IBM marketing mold and learned to work in a very different fashion.”

Develop a risk-taking culture -“One of the things that design thinking enables you is to do is fail quickly and fast, and not to be fearful of it. The more experimentation you can do the better,” advises Dunn. “We did hundreds of mockups around Journey Designer before we got to something we were comfortable with. It was that fast iteration, getting the teams together, and not try to design for perfection but design for the majority of use case and getting that out there and getting customers’ interactions. As soon as you can do that the better you are. It’s the same with marketing, the sooner you can try and not be afraid to fail, that’s the way you’re really going to learn. It’s learning from those failures more so than your successes that I think makes the difference.”