Find out which roles is suited for your context

Our aim is to help designers and design thinkers transform businesses and organisations they work for to be more human-centred, resilient and ultimately more successful.

In our quest to analyse how design influences and mitigates organisational change, we’ve uncovered seven distinct roles (or capacities) to guide our discourse. Together, they form a framework that informs how designers and design thinkers help organisations implement the design paradigm and lead wider organisational change initiatives. These roles are not discrete. They can overlap and complement one another. Some roles have more affinity with other roles and are often used as additional support. The seven roles can be at play concurrently, depending on what is required at any given moment. We also see our roles contributing to growing accounts and frameworks of using design thinking at the organisational change level.

Cultural Catalyst

Do you need a Cultural Catalyst?

Is your culture in a state of positive flow or does it feel stuck? (Being ‘stuck’ could mean: lack of ideas, too many similar ideas, pace of change is too slow, widespread groupthink, rehashing old arguments etc.)

Does your culture suffer from a lack of vibrancy, colour and creativity or does it posses these attributes in abundance?

Is there a widespread willingness to share ideas and work on them iteratively together in a spirit of positive and open-minded collaboration?

Stimulating cultures to change through a clear focus on peoples’ needs and deep empathy as a means of approaching sensitive, cultural challenges.

Infusing the culture with the value system based on transparency, continuous feedback loop with the users and attention to cultural, social and individual nuances.

Promoting openness and pragmatism.

Looking at the totality of the human experience and making the case for rich cultural interactions.

Embracing plurality and multiplicity of voices as a core belief, thus creating an atmosphere of trust and welcoming dissenting voices.

Seeing heterogeneity of ideas and value systems as a springboard for innovation not an insurmountable stumbling block.

Breaking down internal silos and introducing horizontally-integrated teams.

Framework Maker

Do you need a Framework Maker?

Are your innovation initiatives properly grounded: do they generate too few or too many ideas; are the new products aligned with company’s vision and do they genuinely make a difference?

Do you believe your organisational processes are sufficiently anchored in the real needs and desires of your customers?

Has your organisation implemented design as strategic mindset that goes beyond styling?

Providing an important sociological and psychological safety net for those in the organisation seeking to engage in an exploratory, creative and divergent mode of thinking and acting.

Making sure the aims and objectives are focused on the paramount importance of the value generated for the benefit of the consumers.

Propelling the organisation towards a position where it can take full advantage of the opportunities emerging in the fast-changing commercial environment.

Offering visualised and tangible markers of progress and prototypes, which help to create a pragmatic, purposeful conversation, which in turn drives the human-centred initiatives forward.

Humaniser

Do you need a Humaniser?

Do your employees feel empowered or disempowered by the ongoing change process?

Do you see yourself as in-touch or out-of-touch in relation to the nuanced and ever-changing needs of your users?

Do you feel like you are telling an engaging and persuasive enough story to your employees and stakeholders in order to influence their behaviour?

Injecting empathy into the process, creating a human dimension to the work and making business challenges easier to relate to and engage in.

Bringing personas, journeys, role-play, in-depth explorations, and many other techniques into play to put a human face on the often dehumanised business discourse.

Creating organisational traction by creating stories and visualisations that inspire people to take action.

Challenging organisational structures, processes and protocols to understand the customer’s experience.

Offering a dose of humility into the organisational value equation.

Creating an approachable and inspiring change narrative centred around the purpose of serving real human needs.

Power Broker

Do you need a Power Broker?

Are you finding it easy or difficult to reconcile multiple voices and specialisms for the benefit of creating a more innovative and robust organisation?

Do you have a sense that the right or the wrong business function is in charge of the innovation processes?

Do you feel that there is a strong user voice and a reference point guiding project trade-offs and key investment decisions?

Leveraging the independence of the design profession and its focus on the user as the ultimate reference point. This has the capacity to diffuse tensions and realign internal teams around a common goal.

Utilising the power of the consumer-centric purpose to focus everyone’s attention on a pragmatic solution instead of their own, fractional interests.

Changing the frame of reference and deliberately upsetting the entrenched power structures by, for example, the implementation of new and compelling ways of working.

Immediacy of impact of the proposed ideas, made possible through the quickly evolving prototypes everybody can relate to.

Shifting the attention and the ultimate organisational metrics towards people-focused solutions rather than systemic or cultural problems.

Friendly Challenger

Do you need a Friendly Challenger?

Does your organisation embrace internal challenge in an attempt to ultimately focus on creating better products and services for the customers?

Are your functions more interested in defending their turf or serving the needs of the users?

Do you have effective mechanisms, processes and people to diffuse the tensions inherent in company-wide transformation?

Providing a safe haven for fledgling ideas to grow and develop without being challenged prematurely. This refers to both physical and mental spaces available within an organisation.

Encouraging an atmosphere of openness and genuine interest in a best possible solution, regardless of its origin.

Drawing attention away from internal politics and tensions and towards the users’ needs.

Creating an environment where it is the norm to question basic assumptions, critique each-others’ work constructively and champion the search for the best possible (feasible, viable, desirable) solution.

Technology Enabler

Do you need a Cultural Catalyst?

Does technology, including digital technology, work intuitively and is it appreciated as approachable and useful by the employees and external partners?

Do your digital tools help or hinder human connection with your customers?

Do you have the right set of technologies to support your innovation process?

Making technology useful by emphasising the usability of the systems in place in order to maximise engagement, reduce errors and increase satisfaction of the systems’ users.

Ensuring smooth workflow between physical and digital platforms.

Making sure employees’ needs and expectations are catered to, not simply the technical system requirements.

Focusing on the usability as well as the aesthetics. Since people come in contact with certain technologies for extended periods of time, the aesthetics of these technologies play a key role in productivity as well as overall job satisfaction.

Supporting the buy-in, adoption and continued usage of the system–people are put in a situation where they want to use the technology provided to them not because they have to, but because they want to.

Community Builder

Do you need a Community Builder?

Do you have a habit of creating platforms where a mix of people from different sectors and with vastly different skill sets come together to bring positive change?

Do you know how to direct a collection of stakeholders towards a common goal anchored in human-centred needs?

Can you offer tools, such as co-design methods, to enable and encourage community participation and ownership?

Creating conditions for the community to come together by providing a safe, open atmosphere with the users and people involved.

Providing tools and techniques that offer an instant feedback loop for the participants to respond to, in effect creating a fuel for the community to coalesce and work together.

Ensuring a level of empathy, which enables the designers to connect with different constituents in the community on a deep and intimate level.