"Design thinking" may seem like just another new buzzword in the lexicon of innovation, but Procter & Gamble (PG) is using the approach to change its culture. Leadership is listening, learning, and deploying; cross-functional teams are cracking vexing problems across its business landscape; and visualization, prototyping, and iteration are facilitating communication internally and with customers like never before. Here's a look inside one of the most intriguing change management efforts going on in Corporate America today.
"It has been transformative for our leadership teams," says Cindy Tripp, marketing director at P&G Global Design, as she describes her work rolling out the company's Design Thinking Initiative. With a cadre of 100 internal facilitators, more than 40 design thinking workshops have been held in P&G business units across the globe during the past year. The design thinking facilitation team comes from every function at P&G (such as marketing, research and development, info tech, and product supply as well as design). Perhaps most important, half of the workshops focused on something other than new product initiatives to include other types of pressing business issues such as strategy, retail relationship building, and matters of operational excellence. "We want people to use these techniques daily in their work—using broad insights; learning faster; failing faster. Design thinking can be applied everywhere, every day," says Tripp.