The United Kingdom’s Open Policy Making team in the Cabinet Office launched Policy Lab to bring new approaches and methods to the work of 17,000 policy makers in the UK Civil Service. In addition to delivering Business Design projects that create better government policies and services, the Lab focuses on building Business Design capabilities across central and local governments to help develop and continually improve all aspects of their work. Thousands of civil servants and others inside and outside of government have already taken part.5
THE FINANCIAL ROI ON BUSINESS DESIGN Further, Business Design has proved to be a sound investment—one that has a direct bearing on an organization’s financial returns. The UK’s Design Council reports that “design-alert” businesses achieve a 125-percent return on their design-related investments.6 The Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies found that design-led companies outperformed companies in the S&P Index by 219 percent over the past 10 years.7
Dispelling four business design myths : Many business leaders confuse business design with other forms of design. Before they can apply business design to solve business problems, they need to understand what it is—and what it is not.
It’s not only about the things you sell. Design thinking is an important tool for marketing and R&D. But it’s just as relevant to middle- and back-office functions. Procurement and finance departments can use business design to streamline their processes. HR departments can use business design to rethink their endto-end human capital strategies. Airbnb, for example, used business design to replace its HR department with an “Employee Experience Group” that focuses on designing extraordinary physical, emotional, intellectual, virtual and aspirational experiences—all with end users (i.e., the employees) in mind.
It’s not only about creating beautiful things. When it comes to business design, skills such as ethnographic observation, qualitative research, user storytelling and end-user empathy all play a part. Those skills don’t require “buying” a new workforce. Existing highperforming employees can develop the business design muscle their organizations need. In fact, Accenture research suggests they are eager for the opportunity.
It doesn’t just mean hiring a Chief Design Officer. A number of companies, including Apple, 3M and Capital One, for example, have appointed Chief Design Officers (CDOs). These executives play a critical role in directing and transition to a business design culture. But one person cannot ensure its successful adoption—even if that person brings an executive title and focus. Business design is a team effort. It requires mindsets and capabilities that are embedded throughout the organization. It’s not about failing faster. Business design is not about failing. Business design is about conducting iterative experiments, based on data, to develop better answers to business problems. By continually enhancing and improving the solution, whatever is being designed becomes “more right” with every cycle. As just one example, a European bank worked with Accenture to boost the conversion rate of its Internet Savings website. The effort involved conducting multi-variate testing of nearly 650 variations of the site’s landing page. This iterative approach to improving the page increased conversion rates by 290 percent—29 times the original goal.