With the abundance of choice available to customers in an ever-changing marketplace, we
today must ensure our products and services are meaningful and relevant. Design unlocks
better business: better thinking, better insights, better products & services, and better
customer experiences. It’s time for organizations to disrupt by design to achieve growth and success.
Growth and innovation is the most used and abused word of our world today. It’s the job of
every manager to find ways to find growth and innovation in his/her domain, with no clue
as to where to start.

“Chance favors only the prepared mind”
– Louis Pasteur

Growth and innovation happen when leadership is prepared to take on opportunities
available to them. Opportunities are always available; we just need to spot them. Growth and innovation is not caused by external factors, it’s caused by people/minds who are prepared and find these opportunities. A well designed culture helps these people rise with the challenge.

If you take the best companies, you will find that often they succeed not because of process and system but because of people who step up to show the way. McDonald’s is a process based company; you can employ anyone at McDonald’s, if they follow the instructions, they will do just fine. Growth and innovation is more like Masterchef.

So what makes a prepared mind you ask?

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Learning Mindset:

Mindset – A person’s general perspective of the world and outlook in life.Our choices reflect our mindset. For some of us we see new opportunities as learning ground; for others the same could come across as opportunity to fail. Given all that we know about the uncertainty around growth and innovation, I cant overemphasize the  importance of encouraging a learning mindset in all employees.  Yet most organisations to are found to be doing the total opposite, where perfection is expected at every step and the mistakes are punished.

Broad Repertoire:

When organisations allow people to work in functional silos, they often learn and recognise to play only one tune which is generally “the way we’ve always done it”. However if you allow your employees to work in a variety of roles and  functions as their career develops, they can be a lot more adaptive and skilfully play a lot of different tunes. A broad repertoire is an important enabler of growth.

Customer Empathy:

We all know this one. No product is complete today without adding a few “customer centric” and “value to customer” quotes. But let us be clear, the word “empathy” is important here.  Every company claims they love their customers but most also make the mistake of shoving down products more effectively to customers in name of being “customer focused” with a range of customer segmentation schemes and emotional advertising. An empathetic  orientation on the other hand could look a whole lot different – its involves being deeply interested in lives of your customers as people and not categories of consumers. The golden key here is almost always enthographic and close observation of what customers are trying to achieve and not necessarily what they say they want.

So ask yourself

  • Do you spend a lot of energy worrying about making mistakes?
  • Do you consider ideas as fully formed rather as starting points?
  • When confronted with disconfirming data, do you debate the data validity or try to understand it?
  • Do you measure your progress relative to each other or to our own improvement?
  • How do you handle setbacks? As signals to abandon ship or as an opportunity to learn and try something different?

If you can mobilize your force around these questions and collectively answer them, you will be a step closer to designing a better culture for our organization. This coupled with a value based platform where people have a prepared mind makes a playground ready to disrupt.

As a leader, you need not always give the answer to all the questions but instead inspire and empower your work force by designing culture to disrupt