How a Design Thinking Course Can Develop Your Leadership Skills



What's the most critical skill in management? I'm sure you're probably thinking along the lines of decisiveness, problem-solving, and communication skills. Well, the MIT leadership center would like to disagree (slightly). The center has called the ability to clearly identify critical problems the "most underrated skill in management." They're not wrong, at least going by the numbers:

80% of companies believe that they deliver awesome experiences, whereas only 8% of customers echo these  views. 

Why? First, people struggle with identifying problems. Coming in at a close second, people are yet to embrace design thinking. 

What Is Design Thinking?

When people speak about designing tangible goods, it's an easy concept to picture. Think about it. Most of the design is straightforward. Moreover, it can be stripped down to its dimensions, appearance, shape and represented in metrics and drawings.

It's a whole different story altogether whenever it comes to services and the service industry. The "design" of a service per se is implicit and, as a result, always overlooked in most service company strategies.

89% of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience (CX). In today's world, learning to meet customers at their points of need has never been this crucial to business survival. This is where service design thinking comes in. In this process, companies learn to go above and beyond their service and put their customer experiences(CX) at the center of their design process.

Embracing design thinking to problem-solve and transform your organization

Perfecting the art of design thinking, which is more of a journey than a destination, comes with a lot of results and benefits that will be visible in your team. Beyond the tried-and-tested methodologies inherent to the field, design thinking is a powerful tool that trained leaders tap into to foster innovative problem-solving. 

Some of the positive outcomes from gradually becoming good at service design include:

1. Leading change by starting from the customer

You'd be surprised at the number of service companies in operation that can't answer the question, "who is your prospective customer?" It is no secret that organizations who are able to dive deeply (and efficiently) into key customer insights through service design gain crucial edge compared to their competitors.

The same applies to individual leaders and teams within organizations and this is where learning the cornerstones of design thinking can be a tremendous asset to identify:

  • How to create customer journey maps
  • How to build effective buyer personas
  • How to create service blueprints
  • How to identify customer pain points and needs
  • How to gain insight into prospective customer tastes and preferences
  • How to leverage customer feedback and reviews to improve customer experience
  • What an "exceptional experience" means to your customer

Beyond the immediate benefits of instilling a structured way of thinking "with a customer mindset on", these methodologies - when used and applied wisely - go a long way when establishing a human-centric approach as it pushes organizations to truly integrate the needs of people. it is seeking to reach. Gone are the days of "targeting": it is time to "empathize" with your customers.

2. Clearly stating how to create, deliver, and capture value

Service design training is paramount in helping customer-centric organizations grasp what value means to their customers and how to capture and deliver it, which in turn serves as strong ground at clearly stating (and communicating) the requirements for business success within any team.

In some cases, service industries suffer from a delivery gap. This is where there exists a variation between what the customer wants and what the business is providing. Service design training will help your team identify such misalignments and find ways to create and deliver the value your customer wants.

3. Defining the possibilities for delivery excellence (and innovation)

Although services are inherently intangible and messy, making creating and delivering value difficult, service design training helps organizations navigate the complexities of quality delivery in services by:

  • Acknowledging that the customer is the path to service excellence
  • Creating a service excellence culture in an organization
  • Leveraging smart governance in an organization to achieve customer-centricity
  • Developing effective service excellence goals
  • Learning and leveraging servitization as a customer retention tool
  • The necessary metrics and KPIs and how to use them to measure progress

Beyond these core elements, there is also a tremendous amount of opportunities for innovation. Everybody knows that technology plays a crucial role in ensuring service delivery excellence. What many don't know is how exactly to leverage and use it to their advantage some of the tangible outcomes will include learning how to:

  • Use artificial intelligence and AI to gain an all-rounded view of the customer
  • Use analytics and data as a foundation for informed decision making
  • Leveraging third-party software and outsourcing for service quality

How To Use Design Thinking Methodology to Drive Innovation in Services for Companies

Innovation is taking center stage in the service industry. Once a reserve and specialty for companies that create tangible goods, the last few years have seen it become a necessity in the service sector. However, the entire concept of innovation is quite new to the service industry; and many companies still struggle with it. Design thinking offers a way out.

Through design thinking principles, a service company can drive innovation through:

1. Brainstorming
Brainstorming ideas is one of the foundations of design thinking. When it comes to innovation and improving customer experience, two heads are better than one. The more ideas are brought up and challenged, the more refined the quality of thought and the innovation in that company.

2. Democratizing the innovation process
For years now, companies have run siloed and parallel systems, with innovation being reduced to a privilege of a few people. Locking ideas out is one of the reasons why service companies struggle with innovation. Service design thinking, however, tears down the walls. Its interdisciplinary and heterogeneous teams make everybody part of the innovation process regardless of their department or rank.

3. In-Depth customer understanding
Service design believes in not innovating for the sake of innovating but developing products that solve problems for the customer. Design thinking helps companies gain a better understanding of their customer. With more clarity into customer pain points, preferences, and tastes, innovating to meet these parameters becomes easy. 

4. More Productive Meetings and In-House Engagement
71% of managers feel that meetings are unproductive. This is partly due to the lack of a sense of direction that defines business goals. By giving a clearer understanding of what the customer expects from the business, design thinking makes meetings shorter, more focused, and as a result, more productive. 

5. Prototyping of Ideas
Service design thinking also leverages the prototyping and the development of minimum viable products (MVP). This means that ideas and innovations are not launched on a large scale immediately after ideation. Through prototyping, design teams can get insight into the functionality of their products. Even better, they are able to use the feedback in informed decision-making to better the innovation.

What To Look For In A Design Thinking Course 
An effective service design thinking course:

1. Focuses on Service Rather Than Product
An effective course focuses on applying a framework (business model) mirroring the complexity that service actually holds. Such a course is developed with professionals looking to expand their knowledge on service delivery with a course that doesn't seek to change or criticize their product in mind.

2. Is Hands-On
An effective course embraces professionals who learn best from hands-on experiences, where theoretical lessons are followed by practical examples and applications, by offering a connection between theory and practice through a live business case for example.

3. Holistic and Applied
An effective design thinking course will present industry guest speakers and case studies from diverse industries. Its creators understand that their course will have teams from different sectors.  Such a course will aim at helping those who seek to widen their service excellence by gathering knowledge from a wide range of expertise.

Our service innovation by design course is a carefully crafted experience that will take a team through the intricacies of service design thinking. This course will aim to provide actionable solutions that teams can apply in their companies back home to drive change and innovation in service excellence.

We saw it on EHL Insights
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