Editor’s note: Mark Dohnalek is President & CEO of Pivot International, the Kansas-based global product development, engineering & manufacturing firm.
Even during this unprecedented crisis, manufacturing teams and supply chain partners all need to be mindful of what comes next. This means keeping up with all external aspects from review of consumer feedback to identify ideas for new product enhancements to anticipated loss or abundance of available materials to shifts in government compliance and trade issues. When companies have a grasp and expectation for what is coming – they can position themselves for product design profitability. And, ultimately, that is what matters when it comes to growth and continued success.
Design is critical to product performance, which is why, over the past decade companies were motivated to correlate design with bottom-line results. Organizations began making serious investments in both skilled design talent and advanced design processes to drive results that traced directly to revenue. Not only did this direction increase profitability but the designs served to be a major competitive differentiator. Quite simply, connecting design and revenues created a win-win for these manufacturers, and it can work for you too.
The key is to leverage design to achieve your concrete business objectives. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Empower your designers & encourage research. Design teams are four times more likely to originate unique concept designs and embrace ownership of key features and innovations when they are encouraged to collaborate with other key stakeholders. Additionally, reporting directly to the CEO, has an impact on leveraging designs to drive revenue. This highlights how essential it is to empower designers as well as encourage more robust experimentation practices, like concept, A/B, and beta testing. When design teams have efficient systems in place to recruit and hold focus groups and UX testing, they are more likely to utilize these processes to run design experiments and test the data they generate.
2. Bring design thinking to your business strategy. Beyond product development for client deliverables, companies need to apply design sensibilities to their entire business model and growth strategies. The same thought processes behind the design of new products and enhancements should also be applied to business operations, organizational development, sales approach, and market strategy. It’s important to let employees know they can question the status quo if they can suggest new and better ways to further grow their department or company overall. Encourage dialogue, even brainstorming sessions, for designers to bring their ideas on how the content discovery experience can be improved. This approach has the potential of generating inspiration leading to fresh enthusiasm and abundance of new iterations of concepts and organization next steps.
3. Metrics still matter. Design ROI can be challenging to quantify, which is why scorecards are often used. By having ratings across multiple factors like a design’s functional performance to market appeal to manufacturability can be a tremendous tool. In this new decade, already filled with disruption and complications across the globe, having a way to measure design-thinking can make a true difference to overcome business challenges and determine priorities and investment allocation.
When the thinking applied to design is applied to operating manufacturing companies and supply chain partners, the results will have an impact on revenues.
From a company’s recruiting practice to leadership development to strategic planning to sales training to project management to the breaking down of silos between departments, design-thinking is a growth technology that can impact a business’s operations and culture as powerfully as it can its product development.