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The value of design

Redesign your company and reap the rewards of revenue growth

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As companies grapple with a world that has changed drastically, it has become more crucial than ever for them to re-strategise for the future. And DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) believes that it has the answer to not just surviving, but thriving in these times — design. 

Even before the onset of Covid-19 in Singapore, Dsg had already been focused on helping Singapore businesses leverage design and the design thinking approach to expand into new markets, be they local or global, and create more user-centric products, services and experiences. 

“Design is a key enabler in helping businesses drive profitable and desirable human-centred innovation, by realising new opportunities, be it through market expansion or differentiation,” says Mr Mark Wee, Executive Director of Dsg. “At the same time, Dsg is keen to get a deeper understanding into the design maturity of companies in Singapore and the value that design can bring to these companies.”

To this end, Dsg worked to create a programme in partnership with McKinsey Design called the Business Value of Design (BVoD). Placing design thinking in a pivotal role, the programme helps businesses assess their design performance and maturity, highlights areas of improvement and addresses challenges with human-centric solutions. 

Image: DesignSingapore Council and McKinsey Design

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The BVoD programme will run in two phases over approximately 10 weeks. In the first phase, Assess & Reflect, companies will take a self-assessment exercise through the McKinsey Design Index (MDI). Participants will then learn more about the key design behaviours that drive business performance in a subsequent BVoD Forum. This phase will last for seven weeks to provide companies with the flexibility to complete the assessment any time within the timeframe.

Image: DesignSingapore Council and McKinsey Design

For the second phase, Aspire & Act, companies will address their improvement areas, receiving one-to-one guidance and coaching from McKinsey Design experts to help them refine a detailed business proposal and action plan for a product or service. This phase will conclude with the Next Steps Forum to prepare companies to embark on their design transformation journey.

Image: DesignSingapore Council and McKinsey Design

Good design leads to good business

Design, at its essence, is the process of imagining and planning for the very act of creation — the creation of objects, systems and solutions. Hence, it is no surprise that good design is essential for the success of almost anything we undertake. 

Design thinking helps businesses uncover new opportunities, expand into new markets, create desirable products and services as well as foster a culture of innovation. This was reinforced by the findings from McKinsey Design’s extensive study into the value of design.

The study conducted from 2012 to 2017 tracked the design practices of 300 publicly listed companies over five years. The results, which showed a strong correlation between design and financial performance, culminated in the formulation of the MDI. 

At its heart, the MDI is a design metric that allows companies to assess themselves in four core areas — analytical leadership, cross-functional talent, continuous iteration and user experience. Companies which score highly in these areas tend to show consistently higher revenue growth and higher returns to shareholders than their peers. 

By assessing themselves across these four core areas, businesses can glean granular insights on their performance and areas for improvement. The four core areas can each be further broken down into three specific design behaviours, culminating in a total of 12 key design actions that are critical for distinctive business performance. 

Image: McKinsey Design

Four crucial core areas

The first core area of analytical leadership reveals that a bold, design-centric vision needs to be embraced and driven by the C-suite. Lasting change has to be effected from the top, coupled with a strong understanding of customers among all employees in an organisation. Design metrics should also be formulated and employed with the same care and rigour as those currently used to measure time, cost and productivity. 

The second core area is cross-functional talent, which reinforces that design is not a siloed function but every department’s responsibility. It is imperative that the design team cannot be isolated from the others. One way to ensure this is to integrate designers with other functions. This also means that there should be a deliberate nurturing of design talent and an investment in design tools and infrastructure to drive productivity and accelerate design iterations.

The third core area is user experience. This means mapping out a complete customer journey for any product or service the company offers, instead of focusing merely on technical specifications. The ability to offer a seamless physical, service and digital user experience, integrated with third-party products and services that value-add, is key.

The last core area of continuous iteration is to continue listening to customers through a blend of qualitative and quantitative user research. In addition, being able to integrate user, business, competitor and technological research as well as go through a rigorous and repetitive cycle of testing and refining will enable companies to deliver the best possible product or service for their customers. 

Find out how design-ready your business is and take your first step towards corporate regeneration today. Click here to take the free MDI assessment  to find out how your company stacks up against the competition and get a chance to join the exclusive BVoD Forum. Selected participants will be invited to embark on the second phase.

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