How to use design thinking to build the next amazon

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In the past, corporates used to ‘roll out products and pray’. Design thinking advocates for ideation and iteration instead. The introduction of rapid prototyping means that organisations learn how to fail fast and move to the next, feasible solution. You do not go too far in designing the final product/service or experience without engaging the stakeholders, especially through end-user testing. This improves the success rate as most of the typical failure points are ironed out in prototyping.

Innovation is probably the most used word in the history of corporates. We all know it’s important. Design thinking invites the HOW of innovation. It’s about learning ideation techniques to come up with creative alternatives to solving complex problems. It means representing the customers’ experience in a way that’s diverse and collaborative. The best ideation comes from having different people around the table. The trick is learning tools to break down silos and encourage everyone to apply their unique lens to a common issue.

Sometimes our short-term reaction to the environment can take us away from our bigger purpose and we become ineffective at using our resources to solve the right problem in the right way. Design thinking connects your short-, medium- and long-term activities in a visual way. This ensures that as the environment and customer trends shift, Amazon stays connected to their ideal future, which is to ‘be earth's most customer-centric company’.

A final message for those with Amazonian dreams? Collaborate and partner with your customers to become user-centric. We usually design our organisations in silos with a functional/product view, so our focus becomes all about our struggle to collaborate internally, without that common guiding light which says all eyes should be on the customers. The people who really deal with customers should be empowered to make decisions to create amazing customer experience, rather than centralising power where there is no customer in sight. Make sure you not only have a chair in every meeting for the customer but have chairs for every stakeholder who can contribute.

USB-ED’s short courses on Innovation & Design Thinking and Customer Centricity will give you a foundation of design thinking techniques and a working understanding of the role customers play in your business. This is a critical first step in your journey to customer obsession, Amazon-style.

By Anne-marie le Roux, Part-Time Faculty & Business Consultant for Innovation & Design Thinking at USB-ED

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