Digitalization is helping organizations and individuals build and expand their networks which leads to meaningful cooperation. Increasingly these networks are sharing time, insights and information and co-creating new business models and services. Business rules are in such constant change that regulators are struggling to keep up. To be resilient and stay relevant in this networked world, organizations need to constantly innovate new meaningful ways to communicate, interact and form relations with different participants. This does not happen from inside the company.
Understanding the wider scope, systems, value streams and relationships and how they work is a key element in driving innovations in this networked world. Many organizations claim to be customer centric however if you ask their customers the answer might be quite different. Customer surveys or ‘Happy or Not’ buttons at checkouts might give a quick impression of the organisation’s concern but this can be a false impression. Truly customer centric organizations curiously explore their customers’ holistic experiences in their world and changing contexts. To understand these, design methods such as observation techniques and contextual participatory methods are required.
The same can be said for understanding employees within the organisation. Employees know best what happens at the intersections with the external network participants they work with. Companies should never outsource their eyes and ears. Innovations do not flourish in an environment that does not listen to both their internal and external network participants.
Making the shift from company centric to customer and network-centric
Value in co-creation needs to be mutually beneficial whether it is monetary, experiential, environmental or societal. Meaningful innovations require a radical mindset shift in organizations – from company centric to customer centric and all the way to network centric. To drive innovations that are meaningful to different participants, real network centric organizations build their innovations around experiences. They try to understand people’s activities, practices and experiences in their world and in a context that extends beyond the organisation’s products and services. That is only possible when understanding individual behaviour and that isn’t easy.
People might be end-users, citizens, consumers, customers, employees, clients, partners or contributors and you need to observe them and listen to their stories, find out what is important to them in their world and in changing contexts, and find out why.
Are you company-centric or network-centric?
Using Design Thinking to facilitate constant change
Organizations that fearlessly withstand uncertainty and trust non-linear and iterative innovation processes driven by people-centric data have an advantage. The Design Thinking approach drives valuable innovations that are new to a specific context and time, creating value for all collaborative participants in a meaningful way. Innovations ultimately always need to be aligned with actual network participants’ unsatisfied and important jobs, pains and gains if they are going to be successful. This means that if an organisation`s innovation intent is not people driven, but technology and business driven, those innovations need to be validated with evidence that people really care about the innovation intent.
The powerful mindsets of design thinking guide the whole organization to break down silos and build an open, transparent and trust-building atmosphere that supports collaboration and the sharing of information and knowledge. This helps to cultivate an innovation culture that embraces the experiences of employees and external network participants.
The world in which we are living, and the future may seem foggy, but when you go out and observe the world with an open mind and with empathy, everything becomes clearer. The future does not just arrive – it is co-created within networks.