The Trinity of Design Thinking

The Trinity of Design Thinking

The inconvenient truth is that an estimated 93% of Customer Experience (CX) initiatives fail, while in 2016, according to Gartner, 89% of companies expected to compete mostly based on customer experience. So what went wrong?

As an article on CustomerThink explained, CX fails to help executives to ‘grow their business’. In other words, CX fails to produce actual business results. And as a consequence, Forrester is now predicting that 25% of CX professionals will be ousted in 2020.

A recent Confirmit study also found ROI a significant weak spot:

Only 20% of companies scored 9-10 for seeing a Return on Investment, with a significant 14% of companies scoring 0-2. This suggests a huge proportion of companies doing almost nothing in terms of proving the value of their programme.

In a statement, Claire Sporton, SVP CX Innovation at Confirmit said:

Very few [businesses] are able to link the CX program with financial results, which makes it much harder to gain support of the C-suite, set the right goals for the business and secure the desired improvements and culture change across the business.

To understand why CX-initiatives fail so bluntly, Paul Hagen, a former Forrester CX analyst, stated:

It points to a combination of strategy and execution [failures] as reasons for few CX success stories. On the strategy side, he says some Chief Customer/Experience Officers are coming into their jobs without training on design thinking. CEOs are giving lip service to CX, without really understanding what it means.

Without understanding what it means to be customer-driven or without actually producing tangible results, CX is sure to hit a wall.


The Trinity

Mark Curtis, Chief Client Officer at Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) told Adrian Swinscoe in a recent interview that businesses need to commence each design-initiative from three angles:

  1. DESIRABILITY ─ Will our customers desire it?
  2. FEASIBILITY ─ Can we make it?
  3. VIABILITY ─ Can we make money out of it?

For example, we may want to deliver groceries to our customers within 4 hours. Is it desirable? Yes. Is it feasible? It will take a huge investment. Is it viable? No. Don’t do it.

If we look more closely at the desirability of design-initiatives, Mark wants us to also consider the triple purpose alignment:

  • How do you align the purpose of the organization with the purpose of its customers?
  • How do you align the purpose of the organization with the purpose of its employees?
  • How do you align the purpose of the customers with the purpose of the employees?

The first is all about improving customer engagement and reducing customer churn. The second is about employee engagement while reducing employee turnover. The third is about improving customer-employee engagement, which according to Mark is most often overlooked. Research by Gallup had already confirmed that increased employee, as well as customer engagement, translates into 3.4 times ‘financially more effective’ companies.

Additionally, as suggested on Linkedin, companies may want to look at:

  1. SUSTAINABILITY ─ Isn’t it harmful to the environment?
  2. REUSABILITY ─ Can it be recycled, repurposed, or upcycled?
  3. CONTRIBUTORY ─ Does it offer genuine stakeholder value?


  • Edwin Korver

    Edwin Korver is a polymath celebrated for his mastery of systems thinking and integral philosophy, particularly in intricate business transformations. His company, CROSS-SILO, embodies his unwavering belief in the interdependence of stakeholders and the pivotal role of value creation in fostering growth, complemented by the power of storytelling to convey that value. Edwin pioneered the RoundMap®, an all-encompassing business framework. He envisions a future where business harmonizes profit with compassion, common sense, and EQuitability, a vision he explores further in his forthcoming book, "Leading from the Whole."

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