Design Thinking is an accelerator for innovation in HR

Up till now design thinking is mostly used to create a user centered approach to designing and implementing products and services. Today also HR leaders see that this methodology can be used to design better employee experiences.


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Design Thinking is an accelerator for innovation in HR

For HR, the design thinking mindset and tools offer a powerful methodology to build new skills necessary for success in today’s world.

Design Thinking helps to reinvent work and organizations

The role of HR is changing. Or maybe it’s better to say that it should be changing into a more strategic, human-centered role. Now it’s often limited to administrative, operational activities that are centered around corporate thinking: the company first, employees second. Now that changes. Not in the least because it becomes much harder to attract talent with specific skills needed in this new, digital and technology driven era. The role of HR becomes more complex and involves, besides the classic responsibilities, activities like:

  • managing the expectations of a younger, digital workforce
  • co-driving the digital transformation in organizations
  • dealing with a changing balance in permanent versus temporary workforce
  • relentlessly working on an attractive organizational culture
  • digitalizing HR processes
  • driving continuous change
  • developing change capabilities in the organization
  • creating a more agile, engaged and innovative organization

It asks for more than improving processes. It’s about reinventing work and organizations.

And moving to cultural change versus process change. Design Thinking has the power to drive this change. It’s a creative problem solving approach that leads to new solutions that work better for people. Better because it starts with understanding the needs of the people you’re designing for. It’s human-centered by nature and therefor a great approach to change, since change is about engaging people and changing behaviors. Design Thinking is therefor an ideal accelerator for innovation in HR and creates a golden opportunity for HR to recast its main people processes. HR as a strategic partner should no longer be a mere buzzword.

Up till now design thinking was mostly used to create a user centered approach to creating new products and services. Today HR leaders see that this methodology can also be used to design better employee experiences.

To do this, HR professionals need to start working on questions like “What does a great employee experience look like from end to end?

That is what an Employee Experience Designer does.

Of course, such a name (Employee Experience Designer) can sound superficial and nothing more than a new fad, but if this new name is combined with a real new way of thinking and doing, it’s impact can be big. In a previous post, we discussed how you can start applying design thinking in HR with ‘10 steps to a great Employee Experience‘.

Last October, we organized a first masterclass Employee Experience Design, to bring a solution to this new demand. Have a quick look at the after-movie to get a first impression of the ‘learning by doing’ approach we took.

In HR, as in many other management disciplines by the way, people think that following a linear plan is what’s needed to succeed. The uneasiness and uncertainty of experimenting and failing fast is avoided as much as possible. In design thinking, you learn to adopt the agile practices of creating smaller prototypes, experimenting along the way and learning to listen to feedback from employees as input for improved solutions.



Check out our Employee Experience Design crash course on Udemy!