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2. Applying HCD to the Organization

2.1- The Most Valuable Player – The Visionary Leader

The most abstract way to describe how to describe human centered design at the organizational level is to visualize converting lines into circles. The most literal way to describe it is with the example of the glass ketchup bottle versus the upside-down squeezy ketchup bottle. The truest way to describe people at every level of the organization becoming philosophers and designers. Human centric designers and leaders consider the way that humans interact with the world…which extends to your organization, the services offered at your company, the products made by your teams, and at the most obvious but challenging– the way that customers (people) interact with your employees (people.) Alas, urging people to solve problems for the way people are, not who they ought to be. If modern science and technology has advanced any body of knowledge, it has probably served to deepen our understanding of the irrationality of people. 

As a leader in the organization, it is important to note a few things about the rise of human centricity. First, it is really not an option anymore. The transition of our entire country’s economy to go from services to experience based, means that each year you are not pivoting your strategy, you are falling behind the curve. Customer experience obsessed leadership and business models (Disney, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Amazon)  have been around in the past 50 years, but it will now be the standard, not the exception. Second, you have a customer experience regardless of whether you intentionally designed it well or not. Customer experience (CX) is not another fad word, it is a descriptor for the way that people interact with the end to end journey of the products and services your organization offers. It’s on a wide spectrum of good or bad, but not designing it intentionally means you won’t know if you’re the next to be “disrupted away.” Third, it is everyone’s job, but it is only possible with visionary leadership. Please do not rely on a bottom-up transformation. Leadership must set the vision and roll their sleeves up in an effort to create a human centric organization. Breaking down silos, which is single handedly the biggest task at hand, is not possible from the bottom up. It must be forged by leadership’s proactivity in identifying the silos and building bridges.

 Lastly, the most important job of leadership is to help develop a muscle of iteration by eliminating the fear of failure and growing a culture of learning instead. How can innovation occur without the need to fail? Failure is a risk only if the organization allows it to be terminated instead of iterated upon. Iteration means that best practices are derived, successes are celebrated early and often, and that lessons learned get documented and carried forward into the next attempt. This is the circularity I described in the first sentence. The ability to come to a full circle, and onto to the next, is the definition of innovation. Good innovation is not disruptive, sudden, and quick. Rather, it is circular, evolving, and messy. Even if it takes extra care, in the new decade ahead of us, placing people and their experiences 

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