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An Innothinker's Mind

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Change is not easy. Not everyone can adapt to change. Change resistance is given in most situations that involve people. Automation that affects people's jobs, a reorganization that affects people authorities, an innovation that affects people’s way of working, and many more examples. That is why change is a challenge.

Unfortunately, change is inevitable in times of crisis and the need to respond speedily to external market challenges. Given that change involves people, most organizations will manage change through a structured change management program. Such a program will require careful planning and execution to obtain buy-in from people.

Although the change management program could slow down the progress of organizational transformation, the program is necessary to engage people to own the transformation.

That is why some organizations decide to establish a new team outside their current organizations to undertake exponential transformation. In other words, organizations would set up a new organization to innovate a disruptive business model to disrupt their core businesses. Organizations adopt this approach to expedite transformation. They will also take the opportunity to build a new team of people with the right mindset and values for the new business models.

Most organizations are also looking at ways to shift the mindset of their people to drive change within their organizations. As a design thinking practitioner, I believe that design thinking provides a structured process that helps the mindset shift.

A design thinking process is a human-centered approach to innovation or complex problem-solving. The process will help to unleash the individual potential to create and change. From my experience, the process will initiate the beginning of a mindset shift of those who immerse themselves into learning the design thinking process.

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During my early years as Consulting Manager in 1996, I learned about the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) as a strategic performance management methodology. Together with my counterpart from the US, we implemented BSC for a large GLC. I believe what gets measured gets implemented and reinforces accountability for results.

BSC is not just about measuring strategic performance because it also links the performance of individuals to company goals and targets. Many HR organizations have adopted the same methodology to measure the performance of their employees. Most organizations have adopted the BSC methodology more than 20 years ago.

In recent years, especially during the surge of new technology startups, startups and technology organizations have begun to adopt the Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) approach to measure what matters. Driving organizations to scale for exponential growth, the OKR approach is adopted to ensure organizations focus their energy on objectives and key results that matter to them.

The OKRs approach sounds familiar to me when I draw on my experience in BSC. Maybe it is just another terminology. From my perspective, it is not about which approach to adopt, it is really about the company's culture of making people accountable for the company's performance and results. It is also about the company’s structure and processes that enable a smooth deployment of a structured strategic performance management approach.

Given the current organizational fluidity, it is not realistic to expect measurements and targets to be cast in stone at the time of planning. A mechanism needs to be in place to review and assess achievements regularly and to make adjustments appropriately. Of course, the idea is to establish and review leading measurements as frequently as possible so that quick remedial actions be taken to address gaps or shortfalls.

While organizations prioritize revenue growth objectives and key results areas, measurements that impact employee morale and motivation should not be overlooked. People-related measurements are not the sole responsibility of HR organizations. In other words, a balanced approach is required in setting measurements and targets.

Are you implementing the OKRs approach that incorporates BSC philosophy?

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Contributed by Ng Jia Wen

Back in 2018, Innothink Academy’s kid’s workshop marked the beginning of a transformation journey in Malaysia – implementation of Design Thinking in young minds. It is said that adults can draw inspiration when designing solutions for children. Therefore, Design Thinking is not age-restrictive. I had a first-hand experience of attending Innothink’s first workshop at an age of 15. I stumbled across the workshop back in November, thinking of it as a holiday activity. Fast forward into the studio, there were many unfamiliar faces. As the oldest of the group, I had to present myself as a good example. The first day of the workshop was more of a get-to-know each other session. Professional guidance was present whenever we had a roadblock during brainstorming sessions. The overall environment was dynamic and conducive for internal collaboration. No ideas nor opinions were disregarded so everyone hit off well despite changing groupmates. We also built business models as if we were conducting real business. Aside from the kid’s workshop, I have also attended the adult’s workshop which was more detailed and further in-depth. I learned that Design Thinking is an organized structure that follows a step-by-step basis. I realized that Design Thinking is not a process of guessing but a balance between analytical and intuitive thinking. With creativity, anyone, including a child can utilize Design Thinking. In particular, I was very intrigued by the methods as they required me to immerse myself in the situation of users. I had to be empathetic, emotionally understanding how the users feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine myself in their shoes. By doing so, I was able to identify the main issue and reframe the problem statement. Because most of the time people tend to jump straight into brainstorming solutions for the wrong problem statement. So, I learned to identify the game-changing statement, the affirmation that sparks inspiration for innovation. Merely putting the concept in words would not necessarily make one understand what it truly is. One has to experience it first-hand and conduct iterative work of prototyping and reframing the problem statement. Only then can they understand what they learned and apply it in their daily lives. In a nutshell, I envision younger generations establishing a network with professionals that enrich one another with the Design Thinking mindset. Ultimately generating holistic future leaders. Besides, rendering the Design Thinking mindset a norm will help formalize a path forward for more breakthroughs.

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