Interview: Vedran Antoljak & Nikola Žinić
Our task is to promote case studies where Design Thinking helps companies solve them and point the effects of this methodology through practical application.
Burketa&Žinić OM, in partnership with Sense Consulting, decided to transfer their knowledge and expertise to others through workshops aimed at helping companies solve business challenges by using Design Thinking, a worldwide proven innovation simulation method. In the interview with Poslovni dnevnik, Nikola Žinić and Vedran Antoljak explain how Design thinking helps the business community while giving examples of successful implementation.
How much does Design Thinking help solve business operations and cope with different operational challenges?
Antoljak: The Design Thinking methodology is the process of finding innovative solutions to business challenges that in praxis demonstrates strengths in the most successful corporations, companies and organizations. This approach uses a set of tools to help us find solutions to complex business challenges, while relying on the diversity of participants in the process. Where traditional business tools cannot adequately cover modern society, economic reality, and accelerated development and ever-increasing use of technology – Design thinking shows great results.
Žinić: The method itself does not guarantee instant results because the key to success is the openness of the participants: to shatter and face the problem, break it into parts, and reassemble it.
Which business branch can utilize Design Thinking the most?
Antoljak: Design Thinking is a universal methodology implemented by large companies such as Apple, Google and Uber, but also by the leading banks worldwide such as Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. In addition, Design Thinking is used by manufacturers and processors in need for better innovations such as General Electric or Siemens, advanced education institutions such as Stanford and Harvards followed by the public administrations and local governments such as the United Kingdom and the City of London. Lastly, medium and small companies such as Sense Consulting, Burketa & Žinić OM or ShutEm can also take a full advantage of such methodology. Whether it is about the challenges of IT sector, creative industries or traditional industries such as production and manufacturing, Design Thinking is one of the most effective approaches to finding solutions to complex business challenges.
Žinić: In our agency, we used Design Thinking to address communication challenges and the experience was great because the offered tools and the overall philosophy simply makes you think and gets the maximum out of your mind. Design Thinking actually combines different fields, and people with different skills set that you might’ve never encountered. Exactly this type of common experience brings interesting solutions. Human Resources manager may look at Design thinking as a team building tool, but the method actually solves very concrete things and derives serious results.
What is the key to this innovative method? How does it stand out?
Žinić: Although this is not some kind of revolutionary method, however, it is innovative in its insistence on involving people with different skills and knowledge. Apart from people who are deeply involved in the problem we are dealing with, there are, for example, technicians, developers, sellers and others, depending on the context. And that is what personally intrigues me the most about the Design thinking – because we get different opinions. Sometimes this an obscene circumstance because not everybody has the experience in such work environment, which could results in being afraid of expressing their true opinion, followed by the fear of what others will think. However, Design Thinking has the tools to free up the mind of participants. In fact, everything depends on mentors.
Antoljak: Design Thinking methodology is an iterative process that uses series of modern tools applicable to most business challenges such as innovation, marketing, business modeling, new product development and services or business strategy…. Unlike other existing methodologies and tools that depart from the market, technology or some other perspective, Design Thinking is based on the user’s perspective as a human with all its basic characteristics. Thereby, at the very beginning of the process, great attention is paid to the better understanding, experiencing and ultimately comprehending the actual needs of users and their feelings within a given challenge. Therefore, Design Thinking is an iterative rather than a linear process like most other methodologies. This is a methodology that leads to concrete solutions faster than any others.
Can you list some global and domestic examples that prove how Design Thinking helped them to develop innovation and lead to better results?
Antoljak: There are thousands of examples of successful use of Design Thinking. For example, Aribnb app – the way you book accommodation around the world – came through the Design Thinking process. Also, the way eBay processes the information about your activities on their page, and then on the regular basis suggests individualized things for your further purchase. Additionally, the unique EU Fund methodology guide from Zagrebačka banka, the leading bank in Croatia for EU funds, analyzes clients’ needs and connects them with available EU funds and national grants – is designed using Design Thinking. There are still plenty of successful examples that I could talk about, however, I’m going to conclude this question from the praxis that implies that out of the 10 solutions offered by Design Thinking, 8 are successfully implemented.
What’s the story behind your partnership?
Antoljak: Sense Consulting has been following the development of Design Thinking since its very beginnings, and we have been applying it to our selected projects for the past four years, which has proved to be very successful. On the other side, we have monitored disruptions and trends in the global consulting scene that geared towards increased focus on the business needs of users at their individual level and understanding, application of design in many management consulting segments, and joining previously unmatched knowledge and skills such as design, digitalization and strategic management. Aware of these trends, we have been certified at the prestigious Design Thinking schools and joined the best creative group in Croatia and in the South East European region – Burketa & Žinić OM. We suggested to jointly develop the Design Thinking market in this part of the world with a focus on the practical application of this methodology within successful larger and medium-sized organizations. This is how we developed Design Thinking Croatia that is continuously growing. Alongside, we divided roles and responsibilities, as well as carried out a series of open and closed Design Thinking workshops, educational courses, and several corporate projects.
Žinić: As a creative director of market communications agency, I mentored a large number of creative teams and projects, after which we also developed our own methodology. Design Thinking attracted my personal desire to master new methods and after the first participation in such a process, I felt the need to be a Design Thinking mentor, myself. I found my place in this, because I like the processes that lead to creative ideas, and Design Thinking is especially dear to me because it is throughout. As a mentor, I have to open people as much as possible, motivate them and navigate them on the path to innovation, which is very exciting. This job is similar to what I do every day in the agency, however, it is challenging to work with people who have no experience in such processes, and therefore more interesting because we get a different view of the problem, which can results in an incredible compound.
You have this program active for several months now. What interest was shown by the business community?
Žinić: The reactions are fantastic. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning, however, after the first attempt, I was pleasantly surprised because we got out of the process with some genius solutions and I was particularly thrilled that this method pulled the maximum from the participants. The “Ideation” phase has five tools that help you acquire the idea. After the third tool, I thought there was no way to come up with new ideas; after the fourth tool I had 20 more ideas, and on the last tool I came to the best ones with a total of at least 50 new ideas to solve the problem. I was amazed by the power of these tools.
Antoljak: The interest for Design Thinking from the public and business community in Croatia is very large. Most successful corporations in Croatia have heard about Design Thinking. However, only a small number of them really understand the opportunities that this methodology provides, so the vast majority of managers identify Design Thinking with human w, so the proposals very often end up on a Human Resource manager table who sees Design Thinking as an excellent team building exercise. Although this is the way to bring out the “wow-effect” and the awareness of the employees, senior management rarely participates in such exercises. This means that the potential for implementing Design Thinking method is far beyond the reach of key decision-makers. We are aware of this issue and in the upcoming period, our mission is to promote case studies in which Design Thinking helped companies as well as continually point out the effects of this methodology through practical application in concrete projects of corporations and organizations.