How to gain from a bubble

During the  Easter weeks I attended Iversity’s Design Thinking Course.

Fascinating to get fundamental understand how theoretical concepts support the permanent rise of our jobs as design thinkers.

designer How to gain from a bubble
What is a designer anyway?

Herbert Simonin Sciences of the Artificial, defines that design is the “transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones.

Picture your manager?  Does he  fit in that definition?

Sure, at the best he will be transforming the existing conditions into the corporate targets. At least that is their claim. Very often, if there is activity, it is usually in the form of meetings, memo’s, pointless PowerPoints and a lot of macho-speak. Do not consider this to create business value. It just captures value with its absurd claims on time, your energy and operational and capital expenditures.

Sadly, often after all those energy-consuming (yes, your energy) meetings, your organization has not moved an inch.

It is counterintuitive: one can not create more organizational effectiveness by hiring more managers: the new ones  will claim the time and attention of the existing ones. You can hope that the C-level invests in a better use of information technology, process management or rewarding true leadership.

Yes, you can hope for that.

Oops, a hard fact of corporate life is that often you can not do anything about any of those things as you sit idle in your office cubic, tapping out Candy Crush on your smartphone.

Yes, you can wait.

Attending Iversity’s course I realize that there are better ways to create preferred conditions.

One of the most valuable lessons for me is  that – so true in corporate environments – that monkeys are not on my back but that they are always in my head.  Note the change in perspective. It is not about your manager or your peers. It’s about you and the way you frame challenges.

Reframing does not equal big reinventions. On the contrary, often minor enhancements can create superior customer experiences and contribute to the corporate.

Okay, you got it and you sense that there is a fair opportunity for improvement in your environment too.

The next step is to involve, to commit your manager (and probably all kind of corporate managerial stuff like boards, teams and steering committee’s). Be sure, that getting those involved or committed implies that your proposal is last year’s model at the time it fits in their agenda. And probably, because you just propose minor enhancements it will probably not fit in their perception of relevant strategic initiatives.

manager working How to gain from a bubble

Reframing might also do some magic here.

Jeanne Liedtka calls  that you need to build a protective bubble that lets you escape detection by the corporate radar, at least until after there is a level of success that you (or your sponsors) want to be noticed.

Why start big and with the top? Is there not a possibility to start small, with peers or the corporate crazy ones.  Check your working assumptions fast and permanent and have the mindset to reframe on a permanent basis. Focus on your concept of the chosen enhancements, kill those that after a quick test do not deliver additional customer and business value, carry on – in stealth mode – with the remainders and stay away from the corporate minefield as long as possible.

Some organizations still  benefit from the traditional way of managers; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness and disorder, and stressors. Often, very often the leadership in those organizations hate adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is an emerging need for staff members with a  passion for the exact opposite. Let us call them design thinkers.  Design thinkers are beyond management or leadership.  Managers resist shocks and stay the same; design thinkers get better.

Picture your manager! How can your organization and  you benefit from getting better and better?

About Fred Zimny

Dutch senior leader in service innovation, service design, services marketing and service management.
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