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Written by Boineelo Modise

1. The Importance of Psychological Safety

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of innovation in business and society. To build resilience and agility into our organisations for the future, we must learn to foster a culture of innovation by embracing a multifaceted approach, putting people (customers and employees) at the heart of any innovation process or digital transformation agenda. 

As an intern, this has been an especially challenging environment. One of my projects was to gather insights from the team as we move towards the “new normal”. Here are some of the biggest lessons we have seen our clients face in the last year:

2. Innovation Requires Diversity

Perhaps it’s time we rethink our hiring processes and start hiring employees based on their differences rather than commonalities. Diversity unlocks a company’s innovation potential.  Effective and more comprehensive business solutions are born out of collaborations where there is (at least a little) disagreement or dissent.  A diverse set of lived experiences, cultures, abilities and opinions brings new perspectives to any problem and is therefore crucial to the development of new ideas. Great solutions to problems are found at the intersection of ideas, experiences and challenges. A diverse and inclusive workforce is also crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent.

3. Human-centred Design Is The Future

Human-Centred Design is a process dedicated to creating products, processes, or experiences that are crafted from the perspective of the end-user. Placing people at the centre of the problem leads to better products or services that actually solve real-world problems for users.

The focus of Human-Centred Design is on solving problems, not implementing solutions. This is why a key focus of the Human-Centred design is in asking the right questions and pouring focus into the research phase.  In order for us to create innovative, sustainable design products and services, we need to go beyond assumptions and find the truth – this is why Human-Centred Design processes are important.

4. Sustainability Is Key

The global lockdown may have had a small positive impact on the environment (just think, people in India could see the Himalayas for the first time in decades as a result of reduced air pollution), but we still have a long way to go in creating meaningful, sustainable change. Last year we saw an accelerated change in our weather patterns, we witnessed uncontrollable wildfires wreaking havoc and we heard repeated warnings from climate scientists about the criticality of our situation. We cannot ignore the call for sustainability anymore.

As leaders, designers and innovators, we have to keep sustainability top of mind when building solutions for our businesses and our clients. For example, in an effort to reduce single-use plastic packaging we worked to create a, zero packaging solution.  In developing an innovation challenge for the city of cape town we made social impact a key pillar, not just how much ideas could save or earn.

5. Digital Transformation Cannot Wait

Digital Transformation has become a necessity, not an add-on. However, it is imperative that leaders understand that Digital Transformation is not just about implementing tech. The first step is to take a Service Design approach. This means systemically unpacking your processes and tools so that you have a thorough understanding of your business ecosystem. You can then work towards leveraging technology to create value for your employees and customers.

Companies need to address the four types of Digital Transformation ( business process, business model, domain, and cultural ) in order to innovate and acquire the capabilities to rapidly adapt to a changing business landscape.  Companies that regard and pursue digital transformation in a multi-dimensional way will find greater success than those that do not.

Boineelo Modise is an intern at dY/dX