Design: performance lever for the company

Design, with its approach and tools, is an opportunity for the company to significantly and sustainably increase its performance. It remains to be seen why and how.

Design from a business perspective

The general definition of design is as follows: combination of a plan, a strategy and a design, a realization.

From a business perspective, design is a global approach that combines strategic vision, the ability to create relevant solutions, and consideration of economic and social issues.

Its objective is to increase the attractiveness of the organization, improving the lives of all stakeholders (employees, customers, users, partners, etc.).

The piloting of the project is therefore apprehended according to two levels:

  • Strategic leadership: understanding of the market and its evolution, as well as reflection on current and future needs to be met, in a holistic approach to the company’s operation (current or planned) and its ecosystem
  • Operational management: mastery of the various design specialties and tools and their smooth integration into all major businesses and processes (marketing, R&D, production, sales, etc.)

Some may ask, reading this, “So how does design differ from, say, marketing? “.

Two aspects distinguish design and marketing:

  • The posture: design bets on peaceful growth and does not consider “always more” as the dominant criterion, but “always better”. In other words, it is about making the target audience’s life more pleasant, being socially virtuous and economically efficient.
  • Co-construction: design cannot be conceived outside of a collaborative approach. It is a transversal approach – which is not limited to brainstorming – and which aims at the continuous optimization of operational methods and results.

That said, we shouldn’t oppose design to marketing. These disciplines are complementary: marketing is an excellent means of asserting ambitions, defining objectives, facilitating the positioning of a solution thanks, in particular, to proven techniques of analysis and segmentation.

And that goes for all subjects.

And design thinking?

If the virtues of design thinking are no longer demonstrated – developing proposals that are desirable (for the client), viable (for the company), and viable (from a technological point of view) – it is often used at the level of the solution and not from the point of view of the overall strategy: therefore, it seems preferable to use only the term design.

In general, the fact of attributing a qualifier to the term design tends to specialize this discipline and to circumscribe it to a specific and, therefore, restricted area. There is strategic design, product design, digital design just as there is strategic marketing, product marketing or digital marketing: we are there in the business expertise (operational management) and not in the global approach (strategic management).

Design and rapidly changing markets

The design has one great advantage: its systematic desire to understand, propose and materialize, most often in the form of a digital or physical demonstrator.

In other words, design contains within it the possibility of understanding the entire value chain of a solution – from the initial strategic analysis to the definition of its architecture and associated uses – that is, finally, the ability to take into account the components key to the economic model of this solution, which means, among other things, a significant time saving.

The design advantage is particularly expressed in rapidly changing markets, where new environmental, ethical or regulatory constraints are forcing local players to completely rethink their value propositions – and often their entire economic model.

There, it is necessary to build new experiences with a different vision of uses – a privileged exercise of design –, taking into account the company’s ability to respond coherently to the constraints and needs of all stakeholders.

How design increases performance

This ease of design to see a given problem differently and deliver the right experiences in an ideal configuration of realism, attractiveness and durability constitutes a formidable performance lever, for at least three reasons:

  • She grows to a a holistic approach (and shared) of a given issue, taking into account all stakeholder needs and constraints
  • Develops the ability to design high-quality experiences: placing attractiveness, value in use, durability, repairability, recyclability at a high level of requirements
  • Encourages a “natural” increase in operational excellence: Bringing seamlessly tailored experiences to market requires high-performance and correctly interconnected processes, IS, business and data

In conclusion

Integrating the design approach and tools within the company is not an option.

Today, there are few – if any – performance levers as simple and effective as design, as long as:

  • To position the drawing in its proper place: combination of strategic vision and operational know-how
  • Do not consider design as a miracle recipe: in particular, because an idea is worthless without the operational control to make it a reality under the best conditions
  • To ensure that the design approach and tools harmoniously integrate with the company’s various businesses and processes: the design being collaborative in essence, turns out to be one of the most effective dismantling tools
Article produced with input from Isabelle Macquart, associate director of the office in strategy, organization and transformation Experience Creators.

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