After 27 years as the largest and leading industrial design consultancy in Australia we asked ourselves “how do we maintain leadership, expand the business, and develop an enhanced foundation for the future?”
Creativity is our most abundant resource, so we used design thinking to transform D+I into a brand new company, better at what we do and how we do it.
We undertook a reinvention process to expand the business, increase profitability, create an enhanced foundation for the future, and through expansion create opportunities for team members to advance their careers within the company.
To achieve those outcomes we focused on three areas: our working environment, business processes, and team culture.
To begin, we framed the reinvention as a design problem and prepared a brief to clarify our ambitions and constraints. We posed key questions that were explored through research in the first phase: How would we know we had been successful? What does an engaged team look like? How does office layout impact interactions?To research the working environment we talked with subject experts at IDEO, Smart Design and Herman Miller. By shadowing our team we noticed chance interactions that resulted in the type of collaboration we encourage. This led to asking "what if?” As ideas crystallised we set up test areas for the new fit out, iterating simple changes over several months before committing to the final refit.
The discovery phase for our investigation into team culture included an anonymous Gallup survey measuring employee engagement. With hard data in hand we went back to the team for open discussions aimed at making D+I the best place to work. Change was driven from the bottom up. Ideas from the workshops were prototyped, resulting in shared values, a new competency-led framework for recruitment and development, and a focus on coaching in performance development. Managers now embrace their role of facilitating the performance, learning and development of the team around them. By turning our design-sensitivity to human needs back on ourselves, we've created a confident, supportive culture that embraces change.
Research taught us that our crowded market was lacking differentiation. To communicate that clients' get more from Design + Industry than any other consultancy, we simplified our name to "D+I", and focused on the "plus" in all communication as our 'added value'. This had the further benefit of distancing us from the company we were, and positioning us for new markets.We set about 'opening the doors' to D+I and inviting the wider community to start a conversation around ideas and innovation. This was realised through our first issue of Plus in 2015. Initially an annual publication championing the role of design within society, plus.design-industry.com has become an online platform for content and collaboration.
D+I's reinvention was a fresh start, and we soon realised that change would be superficial without reinventing the way we conduct business. Off the shelf project and admin software doesn't support our design-led approach, so we built a new cloud-based project management portal that aligns with the way we work. Partnering with the developers allows us to test and iterate on an ongoing basis as we refine our approach. Data collected by the platform now forms the basis for future real-time business intelligence and analytics.To capture and build internal knowledge we turned to the power of collaboration, leveraging open source wiki software as a platform for our quality system and work health safety content.
The outcome was astonishing! We now have a brand new company, operating out of two new studios in Sydney and Melbourne, an engaged and inspired team, and clients who love us.The outcome for the financial year 2015? Our resulting profit rose by 150%, and rose a further 50% in 2016. The company expanded, and we had established an enhanced foundation for future operation. We went on to write new job titles for the team and re-structured the company to create the career progression we had longed for. What's next? We will continue to embrace change and evolve into the future.