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How companies can use design to transform and innovate amid a pandemic

A new first-of-its-kind programme by DesignSingapore Council and McKinsey Design helps businesses navigate challenges and unleash potential 


What if there was a programme that could help your company grow, even in this challenging Covid-19 climate? What if this programme could help you identify roadblocks and next steps, allowing you to harness all the untapped potential for innovation and growth within your business?

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner or a C-suite leader, the need to adapt and move fast has never been more pressing than it is today.

DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) is launching the first national programme of its kind to help companies and business owners navigate unprecedented challenges created by Covid-19. Called the Business Value of Design (BVoD), it was created in partnership with McKinsey Design, a leading business strategy and design firm, focusing on product, experience and service design. 

By placing design at the forefront of corporate regeneration, the programme recognises it as a key driver of business growth and performance. An extensive five-year study undertaken by McKinsey Design found that there is a strong correlation between high-performing companies in design and superior business performance. In fact, these companies increased their revenue and total returns to shareholders by 32 and 56 per cent respectively. This study on the business value of design forms the basis of the BVoD programme.

Image: McKinsey Design

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Tailored to work across any industry, the programme is suitable for any business entity, whether it is an SME (small and medium-sized enterprise), LLE (large local enterprise) or MNC (multinational corporation). The programme is a systematic approach formulated to “help businesses get an initial diagnostic of their design performance and understand how they can apply specific design actions to tackle a real business problem,” says Mr Mark Wee, Executive Director of Dsg. 

The diagnostic part of the programme utilises the McKinsey Design Index (MDI), which was formulated in 2018 after the consultancy firm completed an extensive study on the business value of design.

The MDI is a design metric that rates companies according to the four core areas that have been proven to have the closest link to improved financial performance — analytical leadership, cross-functional talent, continuous iteration and user experience. 

The assessment component of the MDI enables participants to benchmark and analyse their own performances quickly and accurately based on measurements in the four core areas. These four core areas are then further broken down into 12 sub-core design behaviours, which make it easier to identify next steps and target further actions for companies. 

“By participating in the BVoD programme, which is the first national programme of its kind, companies can assess their design performance and gain insights into areas of improvement,” says Mr Wee.

“Companies can then leverage design to differentiate themselves from their competition, potentially increase their revenue, and eventually develop and diversify into new offerings.” 

Image: McKinsey Design

The programme has been designed to run in two phases, and over approximately 10 weeks.

The first phase, Assess & Reflect, will comprise the MDI self-assessment exercise, as well as receipt of the detailed scores and the unpacking of key design behaviours at a subsequent BVoD Forum. “This will provide companies with deeper insights into where they stand against their competitors, and the impetus to take concrete actions to address identified issues or shortfalls,” says Mr Wee. 

The second phase, Aspire & Act, comprises the Aspirations Exercise and the Next Steps Forum. The former will provide a structured framework for companies to crystallise what they have learnt from the assessment into an actionable business plan for a key product/service or challenge. It will be conducted through one-to-one guidance and consultation sessions with McKinsey Design experts. 

The Next Steps Forum will wrap up the BVoD programme as it outlines the companies’ next steps in their design transformation journey and prepares them to seize key emerging opportunities ahead.

“McKinsey Design will run the forums and aspirations exercises,” says Mr Wee. “Dsg will journey with companies throughout the duration of the programme and also support them in taking action on the opportunities identified after their completion of the programme.” 

Mr Wee believes that as companies grapple with “the new normal” due to Covid-19’s impact, there has never been a better time for companies to rethink, retool and reimagine their strategies. Launching this programme is timely to help businesses in Singapore recognise and maximise new opportunities even as they learn to navigate a challenging environment. 

“Design is at the heart of business transformation and so Dsg is always actively looking for ways to help companies drive profitable and desirable human-centred innovation,” he says. 

“Design not only uncovers and generates avenues for growth and economic success, it brings people together and improves the quality of lives. And in an increasingly fragmented and disconnected world, solutions borne out of good design will be able to do more than just solve challenges; they will inspire creativity and connect communities.” 

Click here to register for the free launch webinar taking place on Nov 26, 2020, 3-4pm. More information about the programme and the programme application details will be released at the webinar.

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