Written by Heather Stagl
In only five months, a global enterprise software company learned how to unite the powers of design thinking and change management to infuse and solidify a fresh mindset for innovation—and even emerged with a practical roadmap. Here’s their story.
An enterprise software company recently enlisted the help of DTG USA. As part of the company’s growth strategy, their sales enablement team was tasked with bringing more innovative solutions for clients. They recognized a need for design thinking (DT) tools to help create these solutions. Those who already had DT training still struggled with getting the sales team and clients to adopt a DT approach, so they also requested help to overcome resistance to using these valuable tools.
Our solution was to provide tailored DT training followed by a change management course for three participant groups around the world. This strategy would give them the tools to overcome resistance and embed design thinking into the way they do things. It would help make the DT training “stick” better in the organization.
When developing the change management course, we realized that applying change management to design thinking meant making a big assumption—that design thinking was the “right” solution. We thought this approach might meet some resistance, because DT was only one set of tools that may be helpful in their quest to support customers.
We decided instead to focus the change management course on driving a specific change that DT would enable. Why were they learning DT in the first place? If we helped the client implement larger innovation projects, then DT would have a purpose, and then it would naturally stick. The challenge statement for the change management course centered around developing a process of co-creation and innovation with customers.
The change management course objectives were to help the team increase their influence, both internally and externally; to provide change management tools they could use to drive innovation with customers; and to apply the tools on the innovation process itself so they could design methods to influence change.
Global participants in three regions identified the changes that would need to happen to drive innovation, both internally and externally, with partners and customers. Then they broke into small groups to focus on the key themes they identified. The elements of the course were:
- Clarify the change – define what needs to happen
- Reduce resistance – understand how people might react to change
- Leverage leadership – use the existing authority and influence in the organization
- Build structural influence – create the conditions for change to happen
- Apply personal influence – work with others to get it done!
Like other DT tools, the change management exercises were simple, collaborative, and designed to create clarity and alignment at each step in the process. Even before the course ended, participants reported using the exercises with customers to start driving innovation and change.
At the end of the course, the teams presented their recommendations for how to implement their part of the challenge. Because the course focused on a real-life challenge, they now have a practical roadmap to follow in their quest to serve customers with more innovative solutions. When they do that, design thinking also becomes an indispensable tool set.
Going through a similar challenge with implementing change? Besides the approach above, we recommend starting with empathy for those going through change. Use design thinking methods to put yourself in their shoes and understand their experience. Also, avoid coming up with change management strategies by yourself. Include others so that you’re doing change with people and not to them. Like design thinking, change management requires iteration, so come up with some ideas and test them to see what works.
Would you like help bringing innovation and change to fruition at your company? Email email@example.com to schedule a consultation.
Author Heather Stagl is an expert in change management and implementation, a coach and trainer, and DTG’s newest team member.