The Design Capable Company, London

Design is going to change the face of your business, no matter what business you are in. As category after category gets disrupted by smarter, nimbler players that prioritize the customer experience and have the ability to improve it, companies have brought creative talent into their organization with intent to become Design Capable.But whats the right way to go about it?

The Design Capable Company, London 1

Smart has had the good fortune to work with some of the worlds most design-led companies, in industries ranging from finance to pharma to consumer goods, and weve learned from all of them. Recently, we gathered together these design champions for a Smart Salon panel discussion at the Museum of London.Catalina Cernica, Head of LEO Innovation, LEO PharmaClive Grinyer, Process Improvement Director, BarclaysAngus Montgomery, Creative Writer, Government Digital ServiceDarren Morgan, Senior Global Design Manager, Reckitt BenckiserMarianna Wickman, Global Head of UX and Design, BBVAModerated by Sean OConnor, Partner and head of the London studio, this hour-long conversation looked at the challenges faced and lessons learned as these industry leaders worked to bring design-savvy into daily practice, and use it to make a difference for their customers and their organization.

Here are four of the most resonant themes from the evenings talk:1. The shift to digital will push your organization to be Design Capable.Creating a digital presence is essentially requisite now, whether youre a bank, a retailer or a government agency.

But building out your digital side effectively means bringing in a wide array of new capabilities, and often a new mindset. The smartest organizations see this for what it is: an opportunity to let that new mindset infuse the rest of their organization with greater design sensitivity.Digital interactions tend to bring design into daily conversation.

Digitals quick pace of change can foster a culture of prototyping and innovation, and the mere fact of moving into a new medium often kickstarts fresh thinking in a way that few other organization-wide initiatives do. The key is to invite this new thinking in, rather than trying to compartmentalize it.2.

You will see your customers in a whole new light.Good design is all about being thoughtful and doing things better than before, so its crucial to start with a clear understanding of what your customers actually require from you. Beyond sales numbers and engagement metrics, being customer-centric means actively collaborating with the people who use your product or service.

Acting on the insights they reveal is one of the things that defines a Design Capable company.Often, the first thing a newly minted design department or just-hired agency will propose is a user/stakeholder research process, which may be heavily qualitative in nature. Regardless of the context or the programs objectives, our panelists found research and user engagement to be unparalleled at setting a clear vision for innovation.

3. Youll need design expertise from both inside and out.While executives have debated for years whether its better to bring design in-house or to hire an agency, most of the panelists companies employ a mixture of both and plan to continue doing so.

This collaborative, hybrid model allows them to take advantage of the unique, multidisciplinary resources and fresh perspective that an outside agency often brings, while leveraging the category-specific skills and knowledge of an internally created Center of Excellence that can evangelize design solutions throughout the organization.The trick to getting this right is empowering the internal team by giving them a seat at the executive table, and partnering them closely with the right outside agencies, so they can run with externally-developed solution when the time is right.4.

Building a design-led culture will help to prove the value of design to your evolving organizationIs successful innovation a result of good design or good engineering? Its both, of course, and in a Design Capable organization, theres little point in fretting over the line between them. The ultimate goal of developing your design capability isnt to create a walled off creative space from which concepts emerge, fully formed, but to instill a sense of good design throughout.

The Design Value index shows that over the last 10 years, design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 228%. This is a fact many a designer has used to push the case for the positive impact their discipline can create. Measuring the value of design is hard its embedded into everything and typical business measurement tools dont really single out the role design plays.

Our panelists agreed that while its crucial to create room for designers and support them in their unique resource needs, its even more important to link them to the rest of your organization. Ask any seasoned creative what they really want, and the top answer is always influence they want to see great work make it to the real world, and theyre happy to work with non-designers to make this happen. Give them the right connections, and theyll bring the whole team along for the ride.

Sketchnote created by Jennifer Cham.Originally published at RELATED QUESTION In the film 'Barry Lyndon', Barry's brother admits tricking him and says, "We loaded your gun with tow." What is tow?

Tow is a fibre obtained from the processing of flax, hemp, or jute into thread for weaving. During the time in which Barry Lyndon is set, it was commonly used as a material for cleaning firearms in lieu of more expensive woven cloth patches. Tow could also be used as tinder for fire making with flint and steel, and it was commonly used as stuffing for upholstery.

PA4500 Flax "Tow" In the case of the movie, it was used as wadding for a blank round during the duel with the British officer so neither would hurt the other.



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