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HR Transformation
The New Disrupted World of Work: Seven Practices For High-Impact HR

The world of work has been disrupted in ways I’ve never seen. We’re working many more hours (we’ve lost an entire week of vacation time since 2000), we feel overwhelmed (40% of US workers believe their work is “highly stressful”), and more and more people are taking on gig-work and alternative work arrangements. And everywhere, we are re-inventing our skills and ourselves to cope with the rise of labor-saving technology and software, including Artificial Intelligence. (Read the article “Catch the Wave, 21st Century Careers” for more on this.)

What is HR’s new role in all this change and how can HR add the most value? Our latest research, “High-Impact HR”, helps explain what HR should be doing about all this.

What Is Happening to HR?

HR professionals can play a role in responding to this disruption, even though it’s not easy. In many ways HR is a “no-win” profession: when things go well management takes the credit, and when things go poorly, HR is often blamed.

Consider all that today’s global HR function is expected to do: train managers, address diversity problems, find and hire talented people as fast as possible, train better employees, on-board and transition people smoothly, pay people competitively, arrange great benefits and perks, and build a work environment that is rewarding, enjoyable, and inspiring. And through it all, HR is also expected to maintain accurate records, make sure the global payroll works efficiently, and keep the company out of legal and compliance problems in hundreds of countries around the world.

This is not an easy job… but it may be easier by seeing the HR function as having two essential tasks: Doing the “hard things” and the “soft things.”

The Hard Things are the “transactional” issues at work: getting people screened and hired, posting job descriptions, building a career portal, running the payroll, making sure compliance training is done, getting people to do appraisals, and handling employee grievances, safety issues, and terminations. These processes, including things like benefits administration, onboarding, alumni management, and employee communications, are very complicated – but people tend to get very upset if they aren’t done well every single time. 

The Soft Things are the “people-centric” challenges at work: making sure performance management is done in a positive way, training new managers to be effective, building a leadership and executive pipeline, assessing and strengthening culture and engagement, understanding turnover and productivity, and diagnosing complex issues like theft, harassment, lack of diversity, collaboration, innovation, and employment brand. While HR can be creative and consultative in addressing these “soft issues,” they tend to be squeezed into available time and budget, while the “hard stuff” gets done first.

 

HR Teams Still Spend Too Much Time on Transactional Work

Whether we like it or not, HR teams spend a lot of time on transactional work. Our new research shows that 41% of HR professionals’ time is spent on “transactional activities,” 40% on “talent and people,” and 19% on “workplace and work.” HR teams are trying hard to fix this: respondents told us they plan to reduce the transactional work (moving from 41% to 30% over the next 3 years) in an effort to focus on people, culture, and the workplace.

As you look at the maturity model below you’ll see a clear trend: the more time you spend on non-transactional work, the more impact HR will have. Level 4 companies spend only 29% of their overall time on transactional work, while level 1 companies are spending 58%! So if you find yourself spending most of your day running reports and dealing with payroll, you’re not automating HR sufficiently.

 

Today The Soft Things Matter More

Today our research shows that the Soft Things matter more than ever. Here’s why: People-centric issues drive value. Research by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that almost 90% of US stock market value is now driven by intellectual property, services, and brand[1] – all of which are “people-driven” issues. It appears that regardless of the business you are in, “people are your product.”

[1] Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

In addition, the “soft issues” are at the heart of some major economic challenges. The productivity of the workforce has not been going up. The current digital revolution is actually the least productive revolution we have seen in U.S. economic history (the invention of the steam engine, electricity, and the original computer drove more output per hour of work). So the pressure is on: How can HR focus on the “soft issues” to help people get more done at work?

 

We Did the Research: What Effective HR Looks LIke

After nearly two years surveying more than 1,000 organizations, studying nearly 100 talent and HR practices, and evaluating lots of data about how companies evaluate HR for its impact on profitability, revenue growth, and other financial metrics, we can say what leading companies do. Truly effective HR organizations today are taking on a whole new identity. They are still doing the “hard things” well, but they are using automation and streamlining these “must do” activities so they can focus on design, culture, values, leadership, and productivity – the people-centric outcomes from addressing the “soft things.”

This is a transformation we call “High-Impact HR,” and it represents a manifesto for the HR department. But it doesn’t only apply to HR. High-Impact HR gives us insights into being a better manager, running IT and other business functions effectively, and focusing your entire business. We found seven key practices that differentiate these high performing companies.

 

The Seven Key Findings

  1. Design employee experiences by segmenting and understanding the work lives of your people. Design thinking takes into account how people already work, make decisions and otherwise organize their day and effort – and uses that knowledge to build specific HR-driven tools to help employees meet goals, improve skills, collaborate and feel more engaged.
  2. Use HR technology to help improve people’s productivity and experience at work. HR-driven technology has the potential to do much more than automate existing practices. High-impact HR organizations find opportunities to use technology to improve productivity, feedback, and alignment among teams throughout the company.
  3. Lead the company’s digital transformation. As many companies struggle to understand what the digital revolution means for their businesses, HR is uniquely specifically positioned to lead rather than follow. Organizational structure, reward systems and incentives – all under the purview of HR – are critical pieces for businesses in reaching the digital future.
  4. Understand and support agile and team-centric organizational models. Traditional hierarchies no longer represent the way that most work really gets done. High-impact HR organizations offer collaborative solutions to help constantly shifting team structures with issues such as goal management, performance management, coaching, check-ins, and development.
  5. Work with leadership to shape a culture of trust, inclusion, purpose, and accountability. High-impact HR organizations don’t just focus on compliance and control – the “hard issues.” By focusing on culture, high-performance HR teams are able to address multiple entry points for “soft issues”.
  6. Design the HR function to operate as a network of teams, breaking down silos within the HR function and with the rest of the business. While specialization in issues like recruiting, learning, compensation and other key functions is important, almost all problems today are multi-disciplinary. High-impact HR teams operate as agile consulting groups, bringing together all the disciplines into action when a problem emerges.
  7. Regenerate, professionalize, and continuously develop your HR professionals. HR should never be a place to “throw people” who can’t perform in other parts of the business. Demand the same level of growth and innovation as you would from other functions of the business and give your people lots of opportunities for developmental assignments, external education, research, and visits to peer companies. 

 

Where Do You Stand?

These seven findings are inspiring to think about – but how do we get there from here? What specifically can HR departments do to address this “disrupted work” world we operate in today? And how far are you from “high-impact?”

Let me show you our new maturity model. After analyzing data from more than 1,000 organizations, we correlated and grouped the practices into four categories, and found the aggregate looks like this:

 

In Today’s Disrupted World of Work: HR Matters More Than Ever

The examples of HR organizations that climb the ladder to deliver high-impact results are often inspiring and educational. And what’s more, they demonstrate something I’ve seen throughout my career: The companies that march up this ladder and focus on achieving the seven common outcomes of effective HR organizations are simply better-run companies overall. They tend to be more profitable, grow faster, and have higher levels of employee engagement. We carefully analyzed these companies, and the results are clear.

 

The research has lots of detail, but let me conclude with a simple message. Today’s “disrupted world of work” demands leadership, creativity, and passion from HR. The days of HR teams wishing for a “seat at the table” are over: you’ve been given the opportunity to lead. High-Impact HR professionals should lead a crusade to make the work experience productive, engaging, and rewarding. Business leaders will be thrilled.

I know that HR professionals are up to this challenge, and I hope this research gives you inspiration and ideas to “rethink the disrupted world of work” in your own organization.


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HR Transformation
HR Technology in 2018: Ten Disruptions Ahead

I’ve been an analyst following the HR Tech market for almost 20 years now, and this year things are changing faster than ever. In the report we just published, “HR Technology Disruptions for 2018,” I describe the details. In this article I’ll summarize the ten big changes going on.

1) A Massive shift from “automation” to “productivity.”

For many years the focus on HR technology was to automate and integrate HR practices. This meant online payroll, record-keeping, learning management, resume capture, interview and hiring, assessment, performance appraisals, compensation, management, resume capture, interview and hiring, assessment, performance appraisals, compensation, etc.

Well all that’s important, but it’s just “business as usual” now. A wide range of cloud-based HRMS and payroll vendors are now in the market, and you get very little credit for “automating” HR. (You do get penalized if you don’t of course). Our new High-Impact HR (HIHR) research shows that about 45% of companies are still focused on basic process automation, so I understand if this is still top on your list.

But beyond automation, as the HIHR article discusses, the big topic in business today is productivity. We are now working on agile, team-centric organizations, and we are overwhelmed with too much to do. Burnout, focus, and employee engagement are all issues, and we are now dealing with email, messaging from many different systems, and a plethora of communication tools that overwhelm most of us. Can we build HR software that really improves productivity and helps teams work better together? That’s the next challenge.

2) Acceleration of HRMS and HCM Cloud Solutions, But Not The Center Of Everything

In the last five years, cloud-based HR has become the rage. I could list more than two dozen highly successful vendors that offer HRMS, payroll, and many talent management services in the cloud. And in most cases they are offering financials and other ERP solutions as well. So the question for most companies is no longer “if” you go to the cloud, but rather “when” and “how.”

Well it’s harder than it looks. Despite these rapidly maturing solutions, only about 40% of companies today use cloud HCM solutions, and my experience with large companies is that the migration often takes 2-3 years or longer. (There is a lot of customized HR software out there.) So we are going to be “moving to the cloud” for a while yet, and the decision of which vendor to select looms large. In fact most companies ponder their vendor decision for months (or years), and feel the decision will have radical impact on their entire employee population.

Well despite strong marketing from the HCM companies, I believe this worry is misplaced. While the cloud HR and payroll system is a critical system for any business, it can be replaced. And the more important technology you buy (as I discuss in trend 1) is the talent and team management software. So your architecture looks more like a “set of services” all focused on making employees’ lives easier… not a single cloud vendor.

This topic will be the subject of another article, but let me just tease you with the slide below. This is what HCM architectures of today really look like. The most critical part might be that green layer in the middle, which we can probably call the “employee services” layer (which is looking more and more like chatbots every day).

Read more about this in the report, and stay tuned for more on this topic. My belief is that a new “breed” of HCM software is emerging, and as I describe above, I believe it looks more like “team management” and less like “talent management” every day.

3) Continuous Performance Management Is Here: And You Should Get With It

I wont belabor this topic (read “The Myth of the Bell Curve” for more), but the answer is now clear: continuous performance management is possible, it works, and it can transform your company. We are not talking about doing away with ratings, rather we are talking about building a new, ongoing process for goal setting, coaching, evaluation, and feedback.

The report discusses all the details (including vendors) but let me leave you with one big finding: despite the tremendous success of the cloud HCM vendors in the market, most do not have a total solution for this problem. So you are going to be buying new products to address this issue, and these new “team-centric” tools are likely to become the future leaders in the HCM market of the future.

4) Feedback, Engagement, and Analytics Tools Reign

Only a few years ago the engagement survey market was a robust but sleeply place. Today it has become a dynamic world of real-time survey systems, sentiment analysis software, organizational network analysis (ONA) tools, and products that actually automatically ask your peers for feedback to give you real-time coaching.

And open feedback tools are growing again, giving employees many new places to comment on the workplace. A new area of growth is the explosion of systems to offer pay transparency and are now crowdsourcing and providing benchmarking tools to help you “find your worth” (a phrase Glassdoor coined) through open feedback and benchmarking.

As I wrote about a few years ago in the article “Feedback is the Killer App,” I believe this explosion of transparency has been very healthy for business, and it has spawned a new set of pulse surveys, AI-based analysis and recommendation systems, and culture assessments throughout the marketplace. You can get this technology from startups, ERP vendors, talent management systems, and embedded in the new performance management systems. I think companies have to think about this as an overall architecture, but this is still a new world.

5) Reinvention of Corporate Learning Is Here

I’ve written about this extensively (read The 10 Disruptive Changes in Learning) but the simple message is this: a new breed of corporate learning tools has finally arrived, and companies are snapping them up quickly.

These include the “experience platforms,” a new breed of “micro-learning platforms,” modernized LMS systems, and new AI-based systems to recommend learning, find learning, and deliver learning. Virtual Reality-based learning is now alive and well, and I expect to see smarter and smarter technologies to help us find “just what we need” along the lines of performance support. And you can now buy systems that let employees publish and share content without any major effort on your part.

6) The Recruiting Market Is Thriving With Innovation

Recruitment is the largest marketplace in HR. Companies spend billions each year on recruiting and it has become an escalating war for employment brand, candidates, candidate experience, and strategic sourcing. High volume recruitment (hospitality, services, healthcare, retail) is being automated by chatbots and other new tools; skilled job recruitment is being revolutionized by open sourcing tools, more automated applicant tracking systems (now called recruitment management systems), and better assessments. And video assessment and culture assessment tools have matured so far that everyone can use them.

I find this part of HR technology the most dynamic and innovative, primarily because every major company has to buy a whole tapestry of tools to compete. I liken the recruitment technology market to the problem builders face in construction. You need an entire toolset of world-class machines to do the job, and each one has its own learning curve to use well. Recruiters are like the finished carpenters of the trade: they become better and better over time, and suddenly you find out your competition is stealing your people and you don’t know what hit you.

The market has gotten hotter than ever, with unemployment rate near record lows. We are back into the “war for talent” (a 15 year old phrase) and this time “the talent is leading the charge.” In other words, all the new technologies are making recruiters smarter about candidates, just as candidates are getting smarter about your companies.

Remember also that the old fashioned “job description” is really going the way of the dinosaur. More and more jobs are “hybrid” and rapidly changing, so the new world of tools has to help us find people with the right capabilities and learning skills, not just technical or cognitive abilities. And diversity is now a core part of recruiting, with new technology to help remove bias from job descriptions and reduce bias in interviewing (even VR can help with this). Lots to read about here.

7) The Wellbeing Market Is Exploding

I probably don’t need to mention that HR technology, content, and tools for wellbeing may likely be the next “big thing” in business. Not only do we need tools to improve productivity and reduce cognitive overload, but we also need “nudges” and data to help us exercise, stay mindful, and learn how to sleep and eat better. In the report I tried to describe some of the most innovative new solutions in the market. My experience with these vendors is that most of them are driving tremendous value for their customers, and the clients I talk with are seeing rapid adoption of these tools (especially among younger workers) and great improvements in engagement, health, and mental wellbeing.

At Deloitte, following the path of most companies, the wellbeing initiative moved from a focus on “health” to a focus on “reducing burnout” to a new focus on “human performance.” This is the journey most HR departments are going through and the vendor market is moving fast.

We have been doing research on “energy at work” and I think this concept may best encompass the new world of “engagement, productivity, and wellbeing” in one simple concept. These new tools can help us measure energy, figure out why and where energy is low, and give us individual nudges and tips on how to improve our energy. Lots to read about on that topic.

8) People Analytics Matures And Grows

We will soon launch our new maturity model on People Analytics and what you’ll see is a tremendous shift from companies “playing with models” to companies “seriously investing in infrastructure” to bring all their people data together. As I’ve discussed many times, employee-related data (and all the aspects it includes) is just as important or more important than customer data, because it tells you the secrets of how to manage your business better.

The marketplace is now rich with embedded solutions (nearly every HCM vendor has embedded analytics, many with prediction engines), and all the new vendors are starting to apply AI to their offerings. While this market has been very long in coming, the growth of cloud platforms is now making it explode, and it’s easier than ever to build a manager-level dashboard that helps your teams understand what they can do to make the work experience better.

At the corporate level, the ONA software market is now growing (organizational network analytics) so a new world of “relationship analytics” is taking hold. We can now look at core HRMS data (turnover, tenure, performance rating), relationship data (who you know, who you spend time with, what teams you are part of), wellbeing data (your activity, location, energy, wellbeing), and your sentiment data (feedback, mood, and sense of belonging). All this data is falling into the laps of HR departments and they are now staring to grapple with the issues of ethics, privacy, and becoming more transparent about what analytics they are doing.

There is a fundamental shift away from “PhD People Analytics Projects” to more business-oriented programs that help study sales performance, team performance, and other business critical issues. And as I discuss in the report, companies at Level 4 in our new model are delivering real-time dashboards to managers to make this all actionable. I personally see People Analytics as the lynchpin of success for HR in the next few years, as all these other technologies throw off data at an ever-increasing rate.

9) Intelligent Self-Service Tools

If you’re a software person like me, you have to ask the question: how do we bring all this “stuff” together into a seamless employee experience to make work better? Do we build apps? Do we upgrade our employee portal? Do we hope AI and conversational systems will sit on top of everything? It’s quite a complicated issue.

In today’s HR technology environment perhaps the most important new market is the fast-growing need for self-service, employee experience platforms. As I describe in the report, these are fast-changing systems that bring case management, document management, employee communications, and help-desk interactions into one integrated architecture. They sit between employee apps and back end applications, and they serve as the lifeblood of your employee service centers (which are going to be more automated every day).

And AI is coming fast. We had Diane Gherson the CHRO of IBM come to our research conference this Spring and she showed off a cognitive manager coach, a cognitive career coach, and a cognitive recruitment coach. Most of these tools are now becoming products to buy, and I’ve seen and talked with vendors that offer smart chatbots (focused on a single domain), intelligent agents, and amazingly fun games that make training, expense reporting, time tracking, and almost every other HR function easy. One vendor showed off a voice application which lets you query the system for vacation balance, performance tips, and even compliance training.

I think this is a huge new market, and I”m not even sure what to call it yet.

10) Innovation Within HR Itself

The tenth disruption I’ve written about is the incredibly rapid growth in innovation projects within HR teams. We, as HR professionals, are now becoming the disruptors. It used to be we waited for tech companies to invent things – then we figured out how to use them and bought them. Now HR departments are experimenting with new performance management models, new learning strategies, new ways to reduce bias, and new techniques to recruit and coach people. Then they go into the market and see if vendors are available. This shift to me is a disruption itself – forcing the HR technology community to move even faster than ever.

I encourage you to read the whole report, it was quite an effort to get it finished. This is a rapidly changing market and one in hypergrowth mode this year. I hope our research helps you make some sense of all these changes and I look forward to your feedback.


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Future of Work and Technology
Matching Work and Skills in a VUCA World

Most companies face the effects of the VUCA world. They are operating in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions –  in this environment speed is decisive. The challenges are obvious: Right application of talent to the right job at the perfect time. In this endeavor, time is often the vital parameter deciding whether a company leaves the market – or stays.

What to do, how to react?

To showcase the new complexity in the labor market, we identified three main trends:

  • Current skill-supply is not matching current skill demand. For most companies it is nearly impossible to find the right talents on the market. Making things worse, it is also increasingly difficult to leverage skills of their own employees: In a recent global survey of job seekers conducted by LinkedIn, 37 percent of respondents said their current job does not fully utilize their skills or provides them with enough challenges.
  • Employees can’t apply their skills to the full as they are stuck in pre-defined roles. In a recent survey of OECD countries, more than one in four adults reported a mismatch between their current skill sets and the qualifications required to do their jobs. This sentiment results in a growing fear that parts of the existing skill sets will not be relevant in the future.
  • Workforce is increasingly diverse and increasingly wants to work independently. An Upwork study reveals that four times more hiring managers expect their usage of freelancers to increase in 2018 than those who expect it to decrease.

We do face a challenge: We underperform when it comes to matching work demand to appropriate skills. Since requirements keep changing constantly, this means failing in a crucial task. On top of that, we must admit that our current talent mechanisms, e.g. static career paths, are not fit for purpose – neither in the light of modern work environment, nor for people who like to shape their own their careers.

What if we could optimize the match of supply of skills and demand of work?

In November 2017, we met with our client’s network and discussed the benefits matching: Among other advantages, a more skill-based organization increases work productivity by up to 9 % and decreases cost by up to 7 %. From those in-house-meeting, we derived a mandate to explore this topic, using a co-creation approach.

Co-creation is a core element of working at TI People: Two times a year, TI People explore an innovative HR-case in collaboration with their clients. If the innovation seems promising, TI People offers a co-creation experience to build an actionable tool.

After conducting expert interviews, first findings are up for discussion:

  • Transparency of skills is a prerequisite of new and agile organizational formats. On organizational levels, many companies experiment with setting up agile organizational formats, but struggle to staff agile teams as they are not aware of actual workforce skills.
  • Skill Management is a new field of a forward-looking HR strategy. It entails the following building blocks: 1.) Work decomposition 2.) Skill detection, 3.) Future skill demand prediction 4.) Work/ Skill matching and finally, 5.) a new lens on Talent Management
  • Skill management is too broad – nobody knows where to start. There is a lot of buzz in the media, but there is almost no guidance how to approach skill management as a strategy. Companies lack a clear understanding of ‘their first 100 days of skill management’, and how to determine their current maturity level in skill management.
  • Detecting skills comes with data validation challenges. Companies are using various new tools to match skills with appropriate work, such as talent profiles, project market places etc. However, most struggle with the validation of skills that employees attribute to themselves. Even links to feedback mechanisms and endorsements didn’t give them the needed data validity.
  • Employee ownership is a mandate for skill management. Employees increasingly leave organizations because career options are not advertised clearly or are missing altogether. If there are matches between employee demands and job openings, the application process should be coupled with a new opportunity for employees to manage their own career. As company boundaries blur, it should be possible to use career management-tools and match skills to work across company’s lines and a range of job profiles.

Please share your experiences and views on this very exciting topic – we are looking forward to entering a discussion with you!



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Employee Engagement/Experience
Employee Journey Analytics: A new frontier in Employee Experience Management

Companies have learnt from their customers that great experiences are rewarded with greater loyalty and engagement, driving a windfall on both top and bottom lines: Customer satisfaction up 20%, Revenue up 15% and Cost of serving customers down by 20%  (McKinsey). The acknowledgement of customer experience as a driver of competitive advantage is accelerating: As reported in this study, 75% of companies said their top objective was to improve customer experience. CEOs and Executive Teams now commit more time and attention to CX.

 

Why should we care in HR?

Progressive companies are transposing the CX idea to HR, aiming to manage their employee’s experience at least as well as they manage their customers’. Expected benefits are along similar lines:

  • Increase in Employee / candidate engagement (estimate: ~26%)
  • Reduction in HR cost to serve through mass customization, simplification and the judicious use of bots and AI (estimate ~22%)

Employee experience is created along the Employee’s journey from Candidate to Alumni. It is a composite journey reflecting three types of experiences:

  1. Direct experience of HR Services and systems,
  2. Leadership Experience (interactions with direct manager and broader management team) and Culture Experience (interactions with coworkers within and across teams),
  3. Workplace experience, both Physical (Workplace) and Digital

 

 

What can HR actually do to improve the employee experience?

While the sum of all three experience components constitutes the full employee experience, HR directly controls the first type of experience only, created when providing HR services to various personas in the employee base. This is the Customer Experience of HR (CXHR).

CXHR is one of the few direct drivers of Employee Engagement that HR fully owns and is able to control and improve over time. As an obvious low hanging fruit, it is the first port of call for HR leaders aiming to improve the Employee Experience and give their teams clear marching orders. Components two and three are more challenging to tackle operationally, since they’re only partially owned or just influenced by HR.

However, HR teams will develop new CX capabilities and skills through deploying CXHR in their own ‘backyard’ (see Volker Jacob’s article – ‘The What and How of a digital strategy’). As such, HR will become the top contender to fully own the broader Employee Experience Agenda and drive component 2 and 3 – an important discussion indeed, but outside the scope of this article.

The idea of CXHR is intuitive, and many progressive HR leaders are acting on it: Staffwise is forecasting 100% increase in employee experience roles on LinkedIn this year. However, the field is far from being mature and practitioners find precious few supporting tools, technologies or existing practices to accelerate their progress. The question is: How to quickly move from an inwardly focused, somewhat siloed HR function to one that embraces an ‘employee-in’ perspective and ultimately create great HR experiences for Employees? 

The relatively more mature practice of CX in the customer facing world, is teaching us that three principles underpin successful transitions of teams to an ‘outside in’ operating model. They have direct applications to CXHR:

  1. Journey design and mapping: Journey Visualization breaks down silos
  2. Journey Analytics: KPIs drive performance and anchor new behaviors
  3. Reporting and Governance: Journey owners, global standards, local versioning

 

1. Visualizing journeys to break down silos

Journey maps are shared representations of customer journeys. Visualizing the full experience map, including cross functional process owners, communication / service channels, detailed touchpoint description and resulting experience is a foundational step to break down siloed mental models and build great experiences from the perspective of the customer.

Taking the HR example of a typical onboarding journey as seen from the Employee’s perspective: Horror stories are common and clearly impact engagement, attrition and time to productivity: According to various studies from Korn Ferry, Leadership IQ and Aberdeen group, 46% of new hires fail within 18 months of start date while up to 25% leave in their first 6 months.

 

 

More telling: 90% of new hires decide whether to commit long-term to their new employer within their first 6 months. These stats are scary from a workforce planning and enterprise productivity perspective.

They also point to a very leaky Talent Acquisition / Onboarding bucket, reinforcing the importance of well designed, managed, onboarding experiences. To redesign the onboarding journey requires breaking existing walls, both within and outside HR: line manager, L&D organization, HR generalists, Recruitment, IT and systems, facilities, and of course, the Employee.

By visualizing the journey together, participants learn to empathetically see journey elements with 360-degree context, opening new and shared avenues for improvement, simplification, radical redesign or introduction of new systems or technologies. As discussed in a previous article on service design thinking, the journey map is an ever-evolving platform that anchors design thinking efforts and experimentation over time.

CX practitioners use standard journey visualization tools that are built for purpose. They synthesize CXHR elements i.e. personas, touchpoints, owners, experience channels… and capture the shared representation of the problem in a consistent format that scales across the enterprise, also allowing for local variations. In 2017 we partnered with 22 global companies to co-create such a journey design tool, able to capture key CXHR journeys (Moments that Matter). Two findings:

  1. For ‘moments that matter’ in HR, the set of touchpoints and journey attributes are easily transferrable from one company to another, as well as the definition of personas that experience them. That is a potential simplifier for CXHR compared to customer-facing CX where practitioners are either competitive or in businesses that are too different to compare apples to apples. CXHR is an ideal field to apply the cocreation approach and solve the shared problem together.
  2. Just as is the case in the Customer-facing world, all touchpoints are not created equal. For example, in a recruitment journey comprising 57 touchpoints, the co-creation group identified seven touchpoints that had disproportionate impact on the overall candidate experience. This allows practitioners to prioritize efforts and focus scarce resources on what matters most: These seven touchpoints and the overall journey design and flow.

 

2. Journey Analytics: Measuring and Benchmarking

Designing and visualizing journeys is an important starting point, but 2 questions arise:

  1. How do we know if redesign efforts are producing results – is CXHR increasing or decreasing the experience after redesigning a touchpoint or an entire journey?
  2.  How can journey maps become a living part of the team’s operating system? Alternatively, our beautiful maps will be carefully locked inside a secure closet, along with design thinking training materials, and never seen again.

Answer: Journey analytics. Customer Journey Analytics is an evolving field in the Customer facing world. What can we learn from existing implementations and apply in the HR world?

CX Measurement provides a quantitative and qualitative way to understand the drivers of positive or negative experience. It operates on two levels:

  • At the lowest level, we want to measure and track touchpoint-level experience, to ensure that the basic building blocks of a journey are as good as can be. For example in the candidate journey, this level could translate in ‘2nd interview experience’ or ‘Experience when filling out application on website’.
  • At the highest level, measuring and tracking overall journey experience  recognizes the fact that the whole experience is not necessarily the sum of the its parts at the sub-journey or touchpoint level. Practitioners must keep focus on improving the ‘flow’ of the overall journey in addition to improving individual touchpoints.

Three types of metrics are measured and tracked:

  1. Outcome metrics such as customer churn, repeat business etc… In HR, this translates into Employee Engagement measures – Engagement being an outcome of the employee experience.
  2. Perception metrics such as Customer Effort (Ease) and NPS (Emotion) are informed by surveys and translate directly in HR
    • We can directly transpose both metrics in HR: CES (Customer Effort Score) and NPS (Net Promoter Score)
    • How to best gather perception data? As customers and as employees, we live in a survey-heavy environment. To improve participation rate and not disrupt employee workflow, survey design trends are following expectations from millennials towards simple, short, ‘in the moment’ surveys and more engaging formats that are both more visual and personal.
    • Another (more qualitative) source of perception data is any data environment where employees can share how they feel, as long as the data can be directly related to the journeys / touchpoints we are measuring. For example, mining social media postings from candidates to improve the candidate journey.
  3. Descriptive metrics: ‘Second hand’ data that describe the experience as captured by internal systems supporting the journey i.e. average customer wait time, #transactions.. In HR, some of this data would be readily available from HRIS, ATS and other HR systems

 

 

CX measurement is the main currency used to frame the success of customer facing teams, recognize wins and know when or what to improve. Executive / CEO levels increasingly review CX metrics as leading indicator of success for sales, service and marketing teams. In HR, CXHR metrics hold a similar potential – to become the most powerful HR operational management and continuous improvement tool available.

In the spirit of continuous and competitive improvement, what about Benchmarking? Customer facing CX Benchmarking is a controversial topic due to the difficulty (competition or ‘apple to apple’ issue) of comparing customer journeys across companies. However, CXHR elements (HR Personas, Journeys, Touchpoints) are similar and largely comparable from one company to another. A CXHR benchmarking platform to effectively rate performance at the HR touchpoint / journey level  is an exciting development that we’re currently exploring with our cocreation group. We will report on progress as we go.

Finally, Journey analytics trends are tracking developments in AI and machine learning on three fronts:

  1. Boost the volume and accuracy of measurements with more conversational and innovative collection of perception data, that includes mining of unstructured text data, embedding micro surveys into workflow apps, etc..
  2. Predictively model customer behavior based on the sum of experiences gathered in customer journeys, detecting unusual CX patterns, predicting opportunities for improvement both at the journey management level and touchpoint level
  3. Real time, ‘In the moment’ support of customer facing teams – for example analyzing conversation patterns and empathy levels to give real-time conversation guidance ( www.cogitocorp.com/)

Not all of these trends will directly apply to HR but we can expect that the rapidly developing Journey Analytics field will yield many innovations that will bring us closer to creating an ideal Employee Experience over time.

 

3. CXHR Governance structures and reporting

Two types of Governance models are effective and could potentially be combined:

  • Central governance committee managing all customer journeys. It is typically composed of executive and operational sponsors, program and project managers. CX analytics are continuously reviewed across the board, informing prioritization of CX initiatives. This approach can also apply to HR and regularly feed the HRLT conversation.
  • Senior Journey owners, with direct reporting lines to Exco/CEO level: In some cases, managers of large customer journeys report on journey analytics to the CEO on a weekly basis. One could imagine a similar CHRO-level periodic review of analytics for large HR journeys such as recruitment or onboarding.

In both instances, large, global organizations adopt CX measurement standards that are simple and scalable (for example KPIs, measurement approach, survey design etc…) and let local businesses version these standards for best fit in their markets. Again, the same principles make sense for CXHR measurement to avoid un-necessary complexity and allow for best practice transfer, benchmarking etc…

Dashboards are designed to fit the chosen organization structure and reporting cadence. They generally reflect two levels of reporting:

 

 

Global dashboards representing all key journeys across the company (see above):  Such a dashboard could become a vital operational management tool for HRLT, reporting in real time employee’s perspective on HR’s performance. It is a bold, ‘truth telling’ approach to HR management as it leaves no place for HR teams to hide by creating direct accountability to great CXHR. As is the case for customer facing teams, the effort is more than validated by superior employee engagement outcomes.

 

 

Local dashboards, report at the journey (see above) or touchpoint level. They help HR journey owners problem-solve and optimize journey design over time, giving them clarity on what aspect of the experience needs improvement and by how much.

These multiple levels of reporting are the key to anchoring the new ‘customer centric’ mindset with HR teams and manage accountability to CXHR improvements. Including benchmarking data at both levels could also be a game changer in terms of identifying CXHR gaps when compared to talent competitors and prioritizing improvement priorities.

 

Conclusion

Winning the battle for Employee Experience in a ‘zero-sum’ talent market will depend on HR Leadership teams’ appetite to master the fundamental tenets of CXHR and execute the approach quickly. Employee journey analytics are the missing link between intentions (visualization, training, hackathons, etc…) and effective, sustained CXHR practice across all HR services. In a mirror image of what is currently taking place in the customer facing world, CXHR KPIs and dashboards will infuse standard HR management frameworks through MBOs, recognition, communication streams and executive reporting. In turn, HR teams will become powerful and engaged agents of change serving the Employee Experience cause, first leading by example within HR, before turning their attention and newly acquired CX skills to the more ambitious (and difficult) resolution of the entire Employee Experience challenge, including systems, workplace and culture. Exciting times!


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Organizational Development, Design and Learning
Building the Employee-centric HR with Service Design Thinking

As a consumer of various services, like banking, I’m occasionally frustrated by the surprising complexity of doing simple things, stuck in some multi-layered voice system or surfing across internal silos (sometimes in an endless loop) when trying to resolve an urgent problem.

I like to complain about customer service as much as anyone, but I must admit that on average, my experience has improved dramatically in the past few years as some of the better players out there have upped their customer service game. The very best deliver an effective blended online/bots/phone/in person experience that help me get things done easily. In more sensitive situations such as the occasional fraud on my account, a knowledgeable agent will (often) own the problem and eventually resolve it with empathy and courtesy. All this with no visible increase to the cost of service.

How did they get there so quickly and what is the secret sauce? Answer: Service Design Thinking and Customer Experience (CX) Management.

As employees, we’ve all experienced ‘Kafkian’ frustration with HR services or systems. In many respects, employees and candidates are the customers of HR services. We react to HR service experience in the workplace with equal or greater frustration / appreciation as we do when consuming banking services. Our expectations of HR are now shaped by ever-improving experiences as consumers – in other words the bar keeps going up for HR service quality and the pace is set by rapidly accelerating CX improvements outside of HR.

Service Design and CXHR management: Why bother and what’s at stake for HR?

In the world of customers, great service experience translates into significant Business Value, in the form of increased retention rates and customer spend, which in turn drives market share and revenue growth. Customers with a choice will naturally flow to the best available experience. An additional benefit is often reported: Reduced cost to serve and therefore higher margins.

In the world of HR, great service experience will drive engagement (of either employees or candidates) with benefits of increased retention and workforce productivity. This applies to the most transactional HR interactions, where employees naturally expect an effortless experience (for more on Effortless Customer Service see this excellent book). For the more critical ‘Moments that Matter’ (Onboarding, relocation, recruitment, life event, etc…) where HR creates – or destroys – disproportionate amounts of employee engagement, employees expect ‘White Gloves’ experience levels in return for engagement towards the company. In many ways what we’d expect from our banking provider in the event of fraud or other ‘charged’ event…

We live in a talent-constrained environment where employee experience is transparently shared on Glassdoor and good talent will pick their employer of choice. This is a ‘buyers’ market’. Just as customers flow to the best service experience, the best talent naturally flow to companies with the best employee experience.

 

 

HR does controls most (but not all) levers of Employee Experience and Service Design Thinking offers a potentially game-changing opportunity for the HR function to directly improve Engagement and workforce productivity. An added benefit of reduced cost to serve is the icing on the cake in a ‘do more with less’ world.

We’ve seen companies adopt two approaches to this challenge / opportunity:

First Approach: Do nothing for now and stay on the fence – ‘I never worry about action, but only inaction’ (W. Churchill). In current course and speed, HR Leadership Teams are consumed by two families of priorities:

1. Implementation of a cloud-based HR system

HRIS systems do deliver benefits such as data centralization and access, UI improvements etc… However, they are designed to advance HR staff experience rather than to improve Employee Experience. While there are possible secondary (one of our clients used the word ‘accidental’) employee experience benefits, weak end-user adoption and the failed promise of employee self-service currently get in the way of many HRIS business cases.

2. Focus on HR productivity

We see a mix of productivity/efficiency focused initiatives such HR Process reengineering, more automation in the form of bots and apps sprinkled throughout the HR service landscape, investment in point technology solutions that incrementally increase productivity in select areas, etc…

All good things on paper but one major piece of the puzzle is missing: The point of view of the most important person in the room when it comes to Employee Experience: The Employee.
Meanwhile, the bar for HR service experience keeps accelerating upward and more nimble talent competitors get ahead… Attracting and retaining the best talent is a zero-sum game.

Second approach: Put employees at the center and embrace Service Design Thinking for HR: A growing number of HR Leadership teams are keen to import design thinking principles from the product and service world and use the methodology to redesign HR services.

Cisco famously convened their global HR staff in a two-day giant hackathon, with a mission to redesign HR services and deliver on the vision set by the CHRO Francine Katsoudas and HR Leadership Team: ‘One size fits one’, i.e. mass customization to deliver the best employee experience in a scalable way.

 

We now see great urgency from global HR leaders to follow early adopters and innovate their services from an employee-centric perspective. However, the path to success is not obvious and still a work in progress for most. Let’s explore it in more depth, beginning with learnings from the world of Customer service design.

What is Service Design Thinking?

According to Ideo, one of its pioneers, product design thinking “Utilizes elements from the designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. You make design decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.’”– Ideo

When applying the principle to services rather than products: “A service is something that I use but do not own. Service design is therefore the shaping of service experiences so that they really work for people. Removing the lumps and bumps that make them frustrating, and then adding some magic to make them compelling.” – Mat Hunter, Design Council

The key steps of this method to innovate services are:

• Group users in segments represented by Personas
• Draw a customer journey map from the persona’s perspective through data and empathetic observation
• Clearly define the problem we’re helping the user solve
• Cross-silos teams collaborate to innovate a ‘Minimum Viable Service’ that solves the holistic problem (not just a segment) and re-draw the journey map
• Measure user experience (CX) and iterate

What lessons learned from Customer-facing teams who have implemented the method?

1. This approach is about fast experiment / measurement and redesign, not about getting it right first time. Over time, teams adopt a new mindset of continuous improvement and constant innovation of the services they manage.

2. ‘Service Design Thinking’ is really ‘Service Design Doing’: Teams learn by doing and practicing. Training, white papers and lots of thinking don’t change mind or skill sets. The website ‘This is Design Doing’ is a treasure trove of resources on how to do service design, including a recently published book. The site’s name says it all…

3. On how to transition an existing service structure to Service Design Thinking , three main lessons from practitioners and some good detailed perspective in this McKinsey article:
• Real gains in customer satisfaction are realized when optimizing journeys at the touchpoint level as well as the entire journey level – the whole experience is not necessarily the sum of its parts.
• Most begin with one ‘High Reward’ service to validate the concept and use early success as leverage point for change, rallying teams etc…
• Essential to manage through CX KPIs: measure CX early and bake it into management / recognition systems to reinforce customer-centric behaviors over time

One great piece of news for HR: Customer-facing teams had to overcome the major challenge of silos being owned by multiple functions (Sales, Marketing, Service, etc…), making it difficult to drive action and ownership.  We in HR directly own our service silos so driving change in our world should be much easier!

How are companies using Service design thinking in HR?

We have not yet encountered a mature implementation across all HR services (please let us know if you have!) but a blend of efforts involving Design thinking training as critical HR competency and part of a renewed focus on HR innovation; Hackathons (local or global) and Creation of Employee Experience committees / governance systems and EE communication streams.  Practitioners have reported 5 challenges and questions and here are some partial answers:

1. How does Service Design fit with other elements of our HR strategy (HRIS, digital, etc…)?

Service Design thinking is an essential asset in a fully digital HR function – see Volker’s post on the What and the How of a Digital HR strategy. By placing employees at the center, service design and CX measurement are the reference ‘truth-tellers’ of what should be automated and when… Automating a poorly designed service that generates negative experience will make it worse, under the cover of being cheaper in the short term.
Bots, apps, and other automation systems hold huge potential to handle HR service tasks with high quality / low cost to free-up resources. However, HR teams should use employee-centric service design to guide the roll-out and own the roadmap. Design and experimentation comes first – technology second.

2. We’re not sure about what to hack first – where to start?

HR teams do not have much spare capacity beyond their day job and must prioritize which services to redesign. Services are not equal in their impact on engagement and require different levels of experience:

• Moments that matter are the most critical. Employees follow a complex journey that often spans multiple HR silos during these moments (i.e. Onboarding or Relocation). Practitioners use a shortlist of ten or so, where the target for employee experience is at its highest, both ‘Effortless’ and ‘White-Glove’. In other words it should feel both easy and memorable (in a good way!).

Our co-creation group of 25 companies is currently building a CXHR measurement system for moments that matter: They have prioritized ‘Recruiting’ and ‘Onboarding’ as the first to tend to – not surprisingly given how much business value is at stake there. We measure two KPIs:  Customer Effort Score – CES – for effortlessness and Net Promoter Score – NPS- for satisfaction.

 

• The objective with Transactional services is less ambitious: To become Effortless, as measured by CES (Customer Effort Score). A rule of thumb is to begin with the most ‘abrasive’ service i.e. generating the most negative experience

3. How do you sustain the effect of Hackathons and Design Thinking training over time?

Hackathons (also see here) and associated training efforts are an effective point of rally for teams and a jolt of energy that sparks new ways to think and collaborate. However, in line with the principle of ‘Design by Doing’, HR teams should quickly bake Service Design in their everyday work to sustain the drive for service innovation and user-centric design over time.  To do so, a comprehensive and prioritized ‘service redesign roadmap’ guides teams as they tackle the long list of HR services. This map includes KPIs and progress milestones as well as suitable reinforcement through HRLT’s management practice and communication streams.

Some start small to validate the proof of concept before a broader roll-out, while others use a big-bang approach, but the philosophy is the same: Teams learn and embrace the concept ‘by doing’ not ‘by training or reading’

4. How do we use a scalable design method globally and still capture local needs?

Employee journeys at moments that matter can be quite complex and difficult to capture; in large, global organizations, applying different methodologies, terminology or tools when redesigning these journeys, leads to breakdown in scale for services that should inherently be global with local versioning.

 

For example, a recruitment journey (pictured above) should be different in the United States vs China but the methodology to capture, build and redesign should be the same. Some organizations use purpose-built tools to do so and anchor a consistent approach through the HR function.

5. We can’t drive forward without KPIs – what/ how should we measure and benchmark?

CES and NPS are the KPIs of choice. Measured at the touchpoint and journey level, they offer an exciting solution to manage the effectiveness of HR teams and services as perceived by the employee and user of these services.

As leaders of Customer-facing teams have found, these measurements will focus the HR function on what matters most: the experience it creates for employees. The ability to benchmark experience data internally or against talent competitors also offers a great opportunity to manage the function upwards in a spirit of continuous improvement.

Conclusion

Service design thinking (or doing!) is a relative newcomer to the world of HR yet brings a great pedigree of success and proven business benefits from the Customer-facing world. No other approach to HR innovation or process redesign holds as much potential to directly drive Employee Experience and shape HR’s contribution to Employee Engagement.
The method is intuitive and engaging for HR teams, does not require massive investment, promotes lower cost to serve and supports one of the major reasons why most HR professionals chose an HR career path in the first place: ‘to help people’.


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Organizational Development, Design and Learning
Design Thinking, Explained

WHY IT MATTERS

Coming up with an idea is easy. Coming up with the right one takes work. With design thinking, throwing out what you think you know and starting from scratch opens up all kinds of possibilities.

What is design thinking?
Design thinking is an innovative problem-solving process rooted in a set of skills.

The approach has been around for decades, but it only started gaining traction outside of the design community after the  2008 Harvard Business Review article[subscription required] titled “Design Thinking” by Tim Brown, CEO and president of design company IDEO.

Since then, the design thinking process has been applied to developing new products and services, and to a whole range of problems, from creating a business model for  selling solar panels in Africa to the operation of  Airbnb.

At a high level, the steps involved in the design thinking process are simple: first, fully understand the problem; second, explore a wide range of possible solutions; third, iterate extensively through prototyping and testing; and finally, implement through the customary deployment mechanisms. 

The skills associated with these steps help people apply creativity to effectively solve real-world problems better than they otherwise would. They can be readily learned, but take effort. For instance, when trying to understand a problem, setting aside your own preconceptions is vital, but it’s hard. Creative brainstorming is necessary for developing possible solutions, but many people don’t do it particularly well. And throughout the process it is critical to engage in modeling, analysis, prototyping, and testing, and to really learn from these many iterations.

Once you master the skills central to the design thinking approach, they can be applied to solve problems in daily life and any industry.

Here’s what you need to know to get started.

design-thinking-info

Understand the problem 
The first step in design thinking is to understand the problem you are trying to solve before searching for solutions. Sometimes, the problem you need to address is not the one you originally set out to tackle.

“Most people don’t make much of an effort to explore the problem space before exploring the solution space,” said MIT Sloan professor Steve Eppinger. The mistake they make is to try and empathize, connecting the stated problem only to their own experiences. This falsely leads to the belief that you completely understand the situation. But the actual problem is always broader, more nuanced, or different than people originally assume.

Take the example of a meal delivery service in Holstebro, Denmark. When a team first began looking at the problem of poor nutrition and malnourishment among the elderly in the city, many of whom received meals from the service, it thought that simply updating the menu options would be a sufficient solution. But after closer observation, the team realized the scope of  the problem was much larger, and that they would need to redesign the entire experience, not only for those receiving the meals, but for those preparing the meals as well. While the company changed almost everything about itself, including rebranding as The Good Kitchen, the most important change the company made when rethinking its business model was shifting how employees viewed themselves and their work. That, in turn, helped them create better meals (which were also drastically changed), yielding happier, better nourished customers.

Involve users
Imagine you are designing a new walker for rehabilitation patients and the elderly, but you have never used one. Could you fully understand what customers need? Certainly not, if you haven’t extensively observed and spoken with real customers. There is a reason that design thinking is often referred to as human-centered design.

“You have to immerse yourself in the problem,” Eppinger said.

How do you start to understand how to build a better walker? When a team from MIT’s  Integrated Design and Management program together with the design firm Altitude took on that task, they met with walker users to interview them, observe them, and understand their experiences. 

   
“We center the design process on human beings by understanding their needs at the beginning, and then include them throughout the development and testing process,” Eppinger said.

Central to the design thinking process is prototyping and testing (more on that later) which allows designers to try, to fail, and to learn what works. Testing also involves customers, and that continued involvement provides essential user feedback on potential designs and use cases. If the MIT-Altitude team studying walkers had ended user involvement after its initial interviews, it would likely have ended up with a walker that didn’t work very well for customers. 

It is also important to interview and understand other stakeholders, like people selling the product, or those who are supporting the users throughout the product life cycle.

Go wild!
The second phase of design thinking is developing solutions to the problem (which you now fully understand). This begins with what most people know as brainstorming.

Hold nothing back during brainstorming sessions — except criticism. Infeasible ideas can generate useful solutions, but you’d never get there if you shoot down every impractical idea from the start.

“One of the key principles of brainstorming is to suspend judgment,” Eppinger said. “When we're exploring the solution space, we first broaden the search and generate lots of possibilities, including the wild and crazy ideas. Of course, the only way we're going to build on the wild and crazy ideas is if we consider them in the first place.”

That doesn’t mean you never judge the ideas, Eppinger said. That part comes later, in downselection. “But if we want 100 ideas to choose from, we can’t be very critical.”

In the case of The Good Kitchen, the kitchen employees were given new uniforms. Why? Uniforms don’t directly affect the competence of the cooks or the taste of the food.

But during interviews conducted with kitchen employees, designers realized that morale was low, in part because employees were bored preparing the same dishes over and over again, in part because they felt that others had a poor perception of them. The new, chef-style uniforms gave the cooks a greater sense of pride. It was only part of the solution, but if the idea had been rejected outright, or perhaps not even suggested, the company would have missed an important aspect of the solution.

Prototype and test. Repeat.
You’ve defined the problem. You’ve spoken to customers. You’ve brainstormed, come up with all sorts of ideas, and worked with your team to boil those ideas down to the ones you think may actually solve the problem you’ve defined.

What next?

“We don’t develop a good solution just by thinking about a list of ideas, bullet points and rough sketches,” Eppinger said. “We explore potential solutions through modeling and prototyping. We design, we build, we test, and repeat — this design iteration process is absolutely critical to effective design thinking.”

Repeating this loop of prototyping, testing, and gathering user feedback is crucial for making sure the design is right — that is, it works for customers, you can build it, and you can support it.

“After several iterations, we might get something that works, we validate it with real customers, and we often find that what we thought was a great solution is actually only just OK. But then we can make it a lot better through even just a few more iterations,” Eppinger said.

Implementation
The goal of all the steps that come before this is to have the best possible solution before you move into implementing the design. Your team will spend most of its time, its money, and its energy on this stage.

“Implementation involves detailed design, training, tooling, and ramping up. It is a huge amount of effort, so get it right before you expend that effort,” said Eppinger.

Think big
Design thinking isn’t just for “things.” If you are only applying the approach to physical products, you aren’t getting the most out of it. Design thinking can be applied to any problem that needs a creative solution. When Eppinger ran into a primary school educator who told him design thinking was big in his school, Eppinger thought he meant that they were teaching students the tenets of design thinking.

“It turns out they meant they were using design thinking in running their operations and improving the school programs. It’s being applied everywhere these days,” Eppinger said.

In another example from the education field, Peruvian entrepreneur Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor hired design consulting firm IDEO to  redesign every aspect of the learning experience in a network of schools in Peru. The ultimate goal? To elevate Peru’s middle class.

As you’d expect, many large corporations have also adopted design thinking. IBM has adopted it at a company-wide level, training many of its nearly 400,000 employees in  design thinking principles.

What can design thinking do for your business?
The impact of all the buzz around design thinking today is that people are realizing that “anybody who has a challenge that needs creative problem solving could benefit from this approach,” Eppinger said. That means that managers can use it, not only to design a new product or service, “but anytime they’ve got a challenge, a problem to solve.”

Applying design thinking techniques to business problems can help executives across industries rethink their product offerings, grow their markets, offer greater value to customers, or innovate and stay relevant. “I don’t know industries that can’t use design thinking,” said Eppinger.

Ready to go deeper?
Read “The Designful Company” by Marty Neumeier, a book that focuses on how businesses can benefit from design thinking, and “Product Design and Development,” co-authored by Eppinger, to better understand the detailed methods.