Well designed change will draw people in

December 4, 2009
99 Views

There’s a reason Tim Brown, CEO of the design firm IDEO, titled his book, Change by Design. There’s a reason Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, titled his book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.

Why? Because successful change happens by design.

Whether the change is a new product, service, process, or a massive cultural change, well designed changes are amazingly competent. A well designed change will draw people in.  Where businesses fail is when they roll out a change with little or no involvement from those impacted and then wonder why there people are resisting the change. That’s where design thinking comes in. Effectively engaging people requires a set of tools.

So what is design thinking?chair-design

The term design thinking is a bit misleading. When I first heard the term my mind went to eclectic chairs, software design, mechanical design, architectural design, and so on. I definitely didn’t think about design as a competitive advantage when formulating strategy, problem solving, or tackling business issues. In layman terms design thinking is a way to solve problems so we as brazen change leaders can design



There’s a reason Tim Brown, CEO of the design firm IDEO, titled his book, Change by Design. There’s a reason Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, titled his book, The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage.

Why? Because successful change happens by design.

Whether the change is a new product, service, process, or a massive cultural change, well designed changes are amazingly competent. A well designed change will draw people in.  Where businesses fail is when they roll out a change with little or no involvement from those impacted and then wonder why there people are resisting the change. That’s where design thinking comes in. Effectively engaging people requires a set of tools.

So what is design thinking?chair-design

The term design thinking is a bit misleading. When I first heard the term my mind went to eclectic chairs, software design, mechanical design, architectural design, and so on. I definitely didn’t think about design as a competitive advantage when formulating strategy, problem solving, or tackling business issues. In layman terms design thinking is a way to solve problems so we as brazen change leaders can design successful change. I would much rather have a set of tools that help me engage people in change than have to manage resistance. No doubt, you need both, but managing resistance is no fun. Designing change that people ‘get’ is a much better space to be in.

Case in point, Procter & Gamble (P&G). In 2000 P&G missed Wall Street expectations two quarters in a row. On June 8, 2000, the board appointed A.G. Lafley as CEO. Lafley knew that the only way to remain competitive against brands that were taking market share was to become more innovative. Lafley appointed Claudia Kotchka as the first vice president for design strategy and innovation. Her challenge: embed design and innovation into the P&G culture. A massive challenge involving massive change. Kotcha turned to thought leaders in the design world − IDEO, Roger Martin, Patrick Whitney, and David Kelley. P&Gs success speaks for itself.

I share this story because change succeeds when change leaders come together and use the tools of a designer to engage people to participate in the change. The methodology and tools of design thinking are a way to create change, a way to move forward intentionally. Kotcha used the tools of designers at P&G to realize successful, massive change.