You can view these three steps — tactical to organizational to strategic — as a continuum of sophistication, maturity and depth at which design operates within an organization. For the vast majority of organizations, design is applied towards product development and delivery where it aids in creating more functional, more beautiful, more effective products. No surprise, since this is where design has clear and easily measurable ROI: better products get you better sales and happy customers.
However, what Junginger and the DMI saw is that the best organizations went beyond that. In “best practice” organizations, design wasn’t just a driving force for products or services, but also helped propel the creation of integrated customer experiences. And to do that, design needed to be an organizational driver, providing the method and medium for collaboration and strategic development.
The big opportunity for design is to become the common language for collaboration between different functions and disciplines, working together for superior customer experiences. For best results, design has to be a strategic driver for an organization, with includes significant investments in infrastructure, headcount, and — in particular — process. IBM and Intuit are bothexcellent examples of organizations that have over the years successfully made this transition to great effect.
Why is design as a strategic driver so valuable? Because it lays out a framework that helps organizations understand their future trajectory and what steps they need to take to reach their goal. It answers the question of “What should that integrated, design-driven team or business look like?” For every organization, the answer to this question would look different. But one thing is certain: as we move from left to right on the continuum of design maturity, design thinking and its methods move beyond tactics and methods, becoming cultural hallmarks in the process.
Now that we know what our goal looks like, here are some lessons I have learnt on my own journey, working with clients and internal teams, inching them ever closer towards becoming that design-driven, people-centered organization: