If we were to list all technologic improvements that the world has had since 1979 we could probably spend days talking about it and how our life changed. And how about geopolitics in 1979? Cold war? Yes! And what about Culture? Michael Jackson was releasing his breakthrough album Off the Wall, including hits like Don’t Stop till you get Enough.

The world has changed. Society has changed. What about the way we do business? We may still be listening to Michael Jackson, but can we still behave and use the same business tools that we used in 1979?

It would be silly to say that all management tools are outdated or even more, that they don’t work. They do. But a management tool is just a reflex of an existing mindset, applied to a specific set of market conditions. When conditions change we need to adapt our thinking.

The rise of the Internet in the last two decades allowed the creation of a hyper-connected world where information runs freely at a speed never before imagined. The impact of this is an increased consciousness of customers and the market itself, opening the doors for incredible tools to flourish, such as having one seventh of all the population connected in the same platform, individuals broadcasting news faster than the traditional media, an open encyclopedia which is more up to date and accurate than any other in history, and a search platform that allows everyone to find, for free, any information they want.

This change leads to several pressures on the way we do business. The market shifted from a transactional one to a relations-based economy valuing the customer experience with the brand more than anything else. Even if most of the businesses don’t want to accept this, it has already happened, its not an emerging trend anymore.
Add to this a competitive environment that no longer respect borders plus the possibility to produce or consume any informations about a brand in your hand with mobile devices.

The world has changed. This shift is bringing business environment into a human centered reality that feels more and more natural to all of us. Yet as we know, humans are unpredictable, they don’t behave as logical processes, instead, they create, judge, change, love, and the most important, they think and evolve.

Can we still use tools created for a world that had a completely different reality?

In order to have a flexible strategy that can adapt and deliver in a dynamic hyperconnected world, companies need to put the human being in the centre of the process, detaching themselves of pre-defined tools and going deep on behaviours and designing accordingly. Empathy, collaboration and experimentation are fundamental skills for now and the future.

Human-centred strategy is not a set of tools. It is a principle, a mindset, a way of thinking and working that can be adopted by everyone in organisations. Being human centred and design-led can generate benefits not only on creating market strategies that are more sustainable in the long term, but also creating an empathic approach towards employees, creating a great work environment.

Finally, don’t think that this is difficult to do. Many new companies are already doing this and shaping the market they are competing in, often redefining it. We have a choice to join them.

Fabio Oliveira

Fabio Oliveira is Country Manager and Facilitator at Echos – School of Design Thinking. Prior to joining Echos, Fabio was Head of Innovation at Kmart Australia, where he developed several projects using Design Thinking in areas such as Store Operations, Payments, Customer Experience and Supply Chain.

Fabio is an advocate of a practical and results-driven approach to corporate innovation, having spoken in several events in Australia.

Since 2011, he is a co-organiser at the Global Service Jam (Melbourne and Sao Paulo editions), the largest Design Thinking and Service Design event in the world.

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