Creating a Future-Ready Organisation – The case for a Chief Design Thinker

role of Chief Design Thinker

Every organization wants to beat competition consistently. Well, that’s a no-brainer. So what’s the big deal?

However, in the emerging scenario, beating competition is not going to be enough. Organisations will have to reimagine their offerings and the markets that they cater to in the future.

In short, Organisations will have to OUTIMAGINE consumers and competition. i.e., think of offerings that consumers and competition cannot imagine.

To enable this, corporate executives will have to become more user-centric & creative in their present problem-solving approaches and visualization of upcoming trends.

Our education system has made us good at analytical thinking.  Analytical thinking involving breaking down an issue into smaller, manageable parts works well when it comes to solving small operational problems. However, it fails when one has to think holistically and be able to see the inter-linkages between various parameters. But for the unfolding VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous) world, one needs to have the ability to think from a Possibility-oriented realm. Problem-solving in rapidly changing will have to have an entirely new approach. Design Thinking is the ‘Light at the end of the Tunnel,’ in such scenarios.

The Need for Design Thinking Champions

In an ambiguous situation, where there is no data available for decision-making, how does one operate? It’s here that Design Thinking plays an important role. A designer has an open-ended, exploratory, deeply human-centric, imaginative approach to problem solving that provides the highest probability for Innovation to happen. This approach has to pervade organisations if they have to remain relevant. Organisations need ‘Design Thinking Champions’ across hierarchies to infuse this approach in solving all kinds of problems across functions and domains. These ‘Champions’ will be the fonts of the creative energy that needs to flow through the organisation. To begin with, the role of these individuals will be to solve tough problems. However, these ‘Champions’ will be few and cannot be expected to be roped in into all situations. Organisations ought to have a mechanism whereby design thinking pervades all across.

The Role of the Chief Design Thinker (CDT)

Organisations will have to create a position, that I would like to call as, ‘Chief Design Thinker’ (CDT). The primary responsibility of this individual will be to embed ‘Design Thinking’ into the organisational DNA. Every individual should be able to adopt the ‘Design Thinking Approach’ to problem solving.

The CDT’s role should be as follows:

  1. Finding Breakthrough solutions for tough problems
  2. Visualising futuristic scenarios
  3. Identifying ‘Design Champions’
  4. Training and Grooming these ‘Design Champions’ as problem solvers
  5. These ‘Design Champions’ should be trained to train more people so that ‘Design Thinking’ spreads faster across the organisation.
  6. Creating specialised and targeted training modules on the ‘Design Thinking Methodology’ that will be suitable for all levels of staff.

 I do not doubt that to be future-ready, corporations will have to create such a position.

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