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In my last blog I have explained why design, design thinking and experience matter in the digital transformation, which goes beyond pure technology and business skills. The credo is to engage with your customers and, most importantly, with the users right from the beginning, in an iterative, user-centric design process.

Digital Transformation is a journey and more than a one-time project. Ultimately, enterprises want to prepare their organization for a sustainable design-led digital transformation

But how to achieve this? This is the focus of today’s blog.

Foster a design-led innovation culture

Changing a company culture is not easy. If you don’t want your company ending like Nokia or Blackberry, you better start sooner than later experiencing new practices. More and more companies are training their people on Design Thinking and want to establish a culture of design-led innovation.

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My formula for innovation culture is people + process + place.

You need to have the right skills in your organization (people): Business, Technical AND Design Skills to better understand the needs of customers and users. Business and technical skills are typically not the problem. But how many people with design background do you have in your organization? This is why more and more companies start hiring designers and train their employees on Design Thinking.

It is not just about having the people with the right skills. You also need to change the way (process) how you engage with customer and users. To be successful, you need to combine design thinking with agile methodologies. The process is pretty simple. You need to get people with the right skills together working as one team and iterate from the beginning to the end with the customers and users. Sounds simple, but it is sometimes difficult to execute in large global organizations. 

Let me tell you a story.

We have trained about 300 people (business + IT) at one of your customers in design thinking and helped to establish five design thinking coaches in their organization. This was the most interesting outcome: after the exercise seven out of 10 IT projects were initiated by the business. The customer told us that this was the first time where business pro-actively wanted to work with IT. This is a great start to improve a relationship which in the last years got separated in many organizations.


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We have experienced that also the place where people work together has a huge impact on creativity. Therefore, we have established at SAP “customer-facing” co-innovation spaces – called SAP AppHaus – where customers and SAP collaborate and co-innovate as partners. Establishing creative spaces within your organization gives the cultural change a face. Skills and a new way of working is often not very visible. The space is physical and people see and feel that your organization is changing. Check out our virtual walk through our AppHaus in Heidelberg.

In my last blog have presented our co-innovation journey with Mercedes-AMG, which has paved Mercedes-AMG’s way to a sustainable digital transformation. Based on my experience, you first need to show with a lighthouse project that this methodology creates business value for the company. You can then build on this success and start the journey to establish a sustainable design-led culture in your organization.

Be prepared for a long journey. It takes time to change and influence the way how organizations work. There was never a more exciting time for designers, because the industry is starting to see the huge value they can bring to organizations and the value they can bring for a successful digital transformation.


Have a look at a more detailed presentation and a video recording about “Digital Transformation is more than technology”. Learn more about customer success stories on the UX Design Services web-page.

Stay tuned for more articles as part of this blog series in which you can explore further perspectives on digital transformation and its various aspects, learn about organizational readiness for design thinking and assess how ready your organization is to embark on this journey.

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