A lot of consulting firms like to spend a lot of planning time on design transformations, going through complex, mostly top-down driven exercises. This approach is okay, but it can be onerous, resource intensive and costly for the small to medium sized businesses. It’s why we’ve come to use the design thinking process in a digital transformation

Do you need a digital transformation though?

Chances are, no. Likely what you really need is a digital adaptation since a transformation often implies your business is in trouble. Your industry might be in the midst of disruption, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a transformation is what you require. Most often, it means adapting some part of your business to leverage technology in innovative ways. That needs to be determined first.

Where design thinking comes into play

To some, the concept of design thinking may seem either a little flighty, trendy and messy. It’s neither. It’s actually a rigorous process. The advantage of using it in a digital transformation is that you uncover where the pain points and opportunities are in your business model and processes quite quickly.

Being iterative in nature and also collaborative, the involved team arrive at a consensus faster. It also involves your people, giving it a human-centric approach, rather than a cold, inhuman, analytical flavour. A key element to the design thinking process is research at the front end. This is often missing in those who plan digital transformations.

And there’s a key point; most digital transformations are planned, not designed. A linear process that often misses the holistic view of the business.

When you think digital transformation, think more about adaptation. Then think how it can be designed versus planned. It changes the entire frame of approach and the mindset brought to the problem.

Giles Crouch is a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and digital anthropologist. He uniquely ties his deep knowledge of technology, marketing, design thinking and digital anthropology and as a polymath he helps clients seeking digital advantage in today’s complex world. Giles' initial years in business were in marketing communications in the technology sector. He also co-founded the Ice Awards for creative in advertising in Atlantic Canada. Giles has been regularly interviewed by international news media on topics such as social media, blockchain, artificial intelligence and their impacts on society. He is a passionate practitioner of design thinking and digital anthropology (netnography). Giles is prolific writer and public speaker, lecturer and keynote. He has also completed over 300 netnographic research projects since 2009. His secondary engagement is as Group Publisher with HUM@NMedia Inc., a Canadian health and wellness focused media company.

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