A conversation with Meg Lee, Innovation Director at WDHB, San Francisco, USA
Meg begins: “You can see society at large, and very visibly the business world, moving towards greater empathy. Inclusion and involvement, engaging internal and external stakeholders, is becoming an organizational and innovation process that many businesses are beginning to focus real attention on in the development of their culture and brand. One approach of engagement that is getting increase traction is design thinking. The mindset and practice of design thinking is fundamentally optimistic, collaborative, and focused on uncovering a variety of solutions to solve a challenge. It is able to pull multiple perspectives together to solve complex problems driven by a human-centered, system level point of view .” The user-centered design process became a mindset and practice to creatively drive strategic action.
“The business world sees the advantage of user-centered design, applied to their outfacing business challenges as well as their internal practices to build an innovative company culture,” Meg says. “In the process of organizational change, this is a powerful platform to work from when building up innovation as it is a practice that needs to be cultivated as a business strategy AND as an organizational culture. Exposure to innovation is learning at the edges and learning is at the heart of the strategic. The way we do it is to take companies on a journey through explorations that dive into strategic and management challenges by inspiration from a diversity of experience. In this way we co-create meaningful, immersive experiences with our clients.”
Meg continues. “We work with the organization on navigating through this experience together, we travel to different contexts – that could be geographic, demographic, industry – to get inspired and iterate on possible solutions. We are more like a coach than a director. We provide the tools, but the insights are from the active engagement, interpretation and synthesis that come from our clients’.”
WDHB work to encourage change and insight by leaders by reflection on on head, heart, and guts - the concepts, the emotions, and the action. Impact as a result has action at the individual, team, and ideally, organizational level.
“Of course, as it is a journey we take our clients on, we can’t guarantee what the final outcome will be,” Meg explains. “When you work with dynamic processes things always turn out differently than planned. What we can assure is a very high level of inspiration, especially those non-apparent inspirations where innovative insights can be found. We pluck different strings from outside the organization and hear if they resonate. If they are in tune, there is something, a common chord, to move towards. Change won’t come just looking to your left and to your right. What we try to do is to make organizations see where opportunities lie in the mindset, practices and cultures of a diversity of dynamic contexts.”