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Design Thinking (PART 2): Identifying the business case

Elina Mendoza | July 4, 2019

In this second and final installment (read Part 1) of our interview with Richs Onipon, AEV AVP for Transformation and Delivery, he shares how teams can take full advantage of the benefits that design thinking can offer and the role it plays in moving the needle for the Aboitiz Group’s digital transformation journey.

 


 

How can design thinking benefit the organization?

Design thinking unleashes creative problem solving and innovation, including a better understanding of common human-centered pain points.

When the design thinking process is applied, it elicits good ideas from any level or part of the organization. It also encourages cross-functional conversations, breaking down silos. I think another benefit is that the structure it lends can also make people—especially leaders—who are naturally risk-averse a little more comfortable with failure and experimentation.

But I think it’s important to stress, especially in a large company like Aboitiz, that we shouldn’t be rolling out design thinking like any other rigid, cookie-cutter intervention. Design thinking should encourage creativity, which means embracing the new and unfamiliar. An important benefit of design thinking is to make individuals get a broader sense of opportunities and adapt based on the unique needs of stakeholders. We should always remember that it’s the human element that makes design thinking work.

 

 

Our organization is slowly embracing the digital mindset, and to reiterate, it is not focused on technology adoption alone. Design thinking is an enabler to apply this digital mindset and is important as we usher in the digital transformation and pivot towards more agile ways of working.

 

 

How does design thinking benefit teams?

Practicing design thinking definitely strengthens teams. For one thing, it’s important for everybody to be on the same page. Communication issues, such as misaligned expectations, often slow down progress. We often think when we develop a new solution that the more familiar issues will go away, but it’s as though we’re sweeping them under the rug. They can linger and create even more issues in the future.

Design thinking goes back to the very basic question of “how might we…?” When teams go through the exercise of design thinking, they develop a common understanding and together everyone contributes their ideas without being judged. They collaboratively create journey maps and prototypes that make their ideas more tangible. Being able to point to those tangible ideas tends to make teams more cohesive and committed. And again, every member feels more empowered, knowing that they have a voice and that their suggestions are being evaluated fairly and objectively. It creates a positive environment where trust can really flourish.

 

 

What makes design thinking particularly relevant to the Aboitiz Group?

Our organization is slowly embracing the digital mindset, and to reiterate, it is not focused on technology adoption alone. Design thinking is an enabler to apply this digital mindset and is important as we usher in the digital transformation and pivot towards more agile ways of working.

Just imagine the ripple effect when gaining this mindset: we now start to care more about customer needs and create our business ecosystem centered on stakeholder experience. More than relevance, it can make an impact we start to test and implement great ideas, even on a small scale.

 

Image from https://ryan2point0.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-best-of-both-worlds/
Image from https://ryan2point0.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-best-of-both-worlds/

How does design thinking support the Group’s digital transformation?

As technology and disruption continue to become more tightly woven into the way we operate, nothing could be more important than preparing our workforce. We need to implement solutions that put people and their needs at the very center. We need to install avenues that allow feedback to flow constantly from the bottom to the top. And within their own teams, people need to be able to adapt and respond to different changes. Design thinking promotes the growth mindset needed to thrive throughout various stages of our digital transformation journey.

 

Can you give some examples of the sessions you’ve run internally and the ideas that have been generated?

There were quite a number of great ideas presented across the Group. Sharing some of the most notable…

Earlier this year, groups from the Aboitiz Foundation presented about how they can future-proof their organization. I’ve seen huge strides in their thinking process to embed operational excellence in the way they do work, most especially in their project management approach.

The Aboitiz Eyes team had a session on how they might reimagine the platform in a way that not only drives engagement but builds a community that shares news and common interests.

With Pilmico Animal Nutrition Company, the audience was mixed; there were participants from the central maintenance department, farm swine department, and various support teams. They generated a bunch of fantastic ideas: from digitized tool keeping to increasing training effectiveness, even to transitioning subject matter knowledge from experts about to retire.

All wonderful, impactful ideas overall. Now, it’s just a matter of time and motivation before these ideas get funneled into their innovation framework and eventually come to life.

 

Pilmico Partners from Pilmico Animal Nutrition Corporation in Tarlac ideate through design thinking conducted by the AEV TechGroup Transformation and Delivery team.