During times of flux, firms that crack under the pressure – or are simply too slow to adapt to ever-evolving external factors – will risk their values becoming diluted, and enforce a negative atmosphere which can filter quickly throughout an entire workforce.
On the other hand, smart businesses typically have a strong sense of purpose, reflected in the principles that guide how the company – and the people it employs – do things, resonating in the personality of the overall organisation.
These are the 3Ps which form the bedrock of a brand and often exist within the DNA of an enterprise. However, if they are not physically articulated, it can be harder to identify when change is required.
Transformation is often resisted by many too, especially if ‘the way we have always done things’ has reaped long-lasting success to date.
But in an ever-evolving world, this could mean the loss of what makes the company special – such as its reputation, ethical stance or ability to meet customer demand. Over time, this could detrimentally impact upon a business because it may lose relevance in a modern market, and lead on to a deteriorating company culture.
That is where design thinking can be applied.
Tapping into a different way to realign culture.
As a discipline, design thinking requires organisations to focus on the challenges they face to effectively – and positively – problem-solve. It stimulates innovative approaches and can be adapted across a broad range of business and social environments too.
Using visual, interactive and engaging methodologies, firms can solve and conceptualise how to evolve ideas for the good of the brand – and achieve the goal of improving company culture.
This way of thinking embodies a collaborative approach, and challenges businesses – that might have conventionally used a top-down technique – to solve issues, and work through difficulties. In fact, it goes against ‘old hat’ methods and instead empowers staff to live and breathe the developments themselves.
Empowering staff with the mindset of having something to strive for, and building a ‘togetherness’ that believes they all play a valuable role in influencing cultural change, can drive employee buy-in. After all, the workforce is often the lifeblood of a business, and without them, everything falls flat.
However, despite its inherent qualities, design thinking is often overlooked by brands when they are looking to affect change during times of flux. Sometimes it is not even considered.
But, it is instrumental in building and supporting an innovative culture that is people-centred and authentic. It can be used to provide a solid model, in order to help during times of operational growth – from product development to market diversification – and maintain relevance in an unpredictable economic climate.
Often, enterprises will look towards theory to drive change process, and may forget about the true impact that fluidity now plays in today’s modern-day workforces. This approach brings into question the three-stage management framework, pioneered by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s. It has long been accepted that behaviour – however deeply engrained – needs to be unfrozen for change to happen, before newly-desired principles are solidified. However, the volume, velocity and variety of change businesses are now experiencing, is moving rapidly and it is therefore, arguably, more beneficial to remain adaptable, agile and in a change-ready state, for development to occur – even if only incrementally.
Using the techniques to drive positive change
That is where design thinking plays a crucial role because it can define – in granular detail – the ways in which to unfreeze a culture and keep it fluid, or unfrozen, ensuring that results are sustainable and consistent during unpredictability and cultural concerns.
And, whilst this strategic discipline highlights how orchestrating cultural transformation is by no means a ‘quick win’, it is understandable why many long-established firms find it difficult to adapt to change. However, organisations able to utilise the qualities that design thinking provides, can empower an entire organisation and drive it towards a long-term, demonstrable vision.
It is time for establishments to look at a different way, in order to reinvigorate their company culture – and recognise that anyone can contribute to innovative solutions by using design thinking techniques. Why? Because this discipline truly underlines how entities can use the tools and enable everyone to think differently in their company, in order to overcome challenges.
Realigning how firms think about the culture and values – which are reflective of what the organisation does, why it exists, and how it behaves commercially and internally – can enable positive growth. Because without progression, businesses can ultimately stagnate.