Saturday, August 13, 2022

How custom design can be harmful and how to fix it?

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Founder of ktcI have a passion for service design, customer experience and entrepreneurship.

A lot is said in business about customer centricity: it is an approach that focuses on the needs, wants and limitations of users to generate innovative solutions. Delivering solutions based on the customer mindset became very popular among business leaders at the beginning of the 21st century.

Of the design methods to achieve customer focus, an approach that is closely aligned with the business world is the well-known design thinking and user journey mapping. Through this lens, companies launched an offensive in creating frictionless travel, products and service with greater ease. They also implemented new ways to measure customer success, such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

The main goal of customer focus is to turn difficulties and limitations into customer benefits, generating business value for the company. However, the threefold crisis we are currently experiencing – economics, public health and climate – reveals a paradox in the original mindset of ‘progress’: the product that improves one’s life can also cause or exacerbate problems that harm other groups.

And this paradox around “progress” has never been more challenged: after decades of exploiting the environment in the belief that nature is an infinite and controllable resource, we realize that this management style can no longer be adopted as before, or else could be. there will be no resources available for future generations.

Creating the right thing can conflict with doing the right thing.

like the book donut economy by Kate Raworth points out, not all innovations are to be welcomed. What if smart refrigerators use too much energy? What if delivery apps degrade workers’ quality of life and undermine the potential of local commerce? E-commerce giants have built huge warehouses near major cities to satisfy the appetite for convenience, but at the expense of wildlife and biodiversity near those same cities. Customer-centric innovation and profit-driven, bottom-line philosophies are being severely challenged in a world with new, bigger and collective problems to be solved.

Doing good by doing good: the basics of the Triple P

According to John Elkingtonwho defined and developed the theory of the triple bottom line (TPL), “The triple bottom line” [of people, planet and profit] is a sustainability framework that examines the social, environmental and economic impact of a company.” The three Ps can be understood as follows:

• People: The impact a company has on its stakeholders, such as employees and customers, as well as on its suppliers and communities.

• Planet: The impact an organization has on the environment, including not only its carbon footprint, but also how a company actively contributes to regenerating what it gets from nature.

• Gain: This includes the impact a company has on the economy in general, taking into account the volume of employment it generates, along with paying taxes and creating wealth for society.

While the goals for people and planet remain clear to many, the third P – profit – is still a concern for many shareholders. But in addition to customer-oriented design, new design methods are emerging to tackle that problem. Take for example, circular design: a design set based on the reuse of materials. When customer-oriented design and circular design meet, interesting opportunities arise to combine people, planet and profit.

The French car manufacturer Renault Refactory is an excellent example of this. In this car renovation center, the brand gives used cars a new lease of life through a thorough check and replacement of all defective parts, so that they are ready for another 100,000 kilometers on the road. Modern technology such as 3D printing allows the center to save even more resources, for example by printing a small lever element for a chair instead of changing the entire chair. Toyota is building a similar factory in the United Kingdom. These brands are at the forefront of triple-P thinking and show that profit, planet and people can go hand in hand.

Circular design is just one of the design tools that help support the triple-P business philosophy; another is including design. According to OCAD UniversityInclusive design is “design that takes into account the full range of human diversity in terms of skills, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human differences.” This design set allows everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities. Using design thinking, managers can actively listen to the demands of minorities, give them a voice, and help them execute on their visions, even as they go beyond traditional business offerings.

Design is so much more exciting and can take the lead.

With organizations being held accountable for their environmental and social impact like never before, huge opportunities open up for designers in every industry. Designers can not only challenge traditional customer-centric philosophies but counter them with more recent and future-proof design sets such as circular design and inclusive design.

When business leaders claim new ways of doing business, these ways are often abstract, but designers can materialize these visions into new design practices for products, services and business models. This is not the time to be shy as a designer – it’s your time to create a space for better business and a better world. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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