Lots of organizations are stuck in their digital transformation. Turbulence and uncertainty are being faced across all industry sectors. They realize that technology can help, but unlocking the potential requires them to look outside their own organizations to find answers.
To accelerate this process for our customers, last year Fujitsu launched its Co-creating Program in Europe. We built on experience gained in Japan and opened Digital Transformation Centers (DTCs) in Munich, New York, and London.
These centers are purpose-built, designed specifically as places where customer organizations can work creatively with Fujitsu. We know how important it is for people to get out of their business into a neutral environment in order to develop a new perspective on the challenges they are facing.
We understand that travel is sometimes impossible for our customers, and so have created a mobile DTC concept that works as a pop-up in any location. This makes the DTC experience more accessible for all our customers and still provides the benefits of helping to create a different mindset with a set of digital tools to support the process.
Whatever the location, we make use of our unique Human Centric Experience Design approach (Fujitsu HXD) to help navigate these challenges.
Since establishing the concept in Europe we have co-created in more than 150 workshops. Whilst each customer has a unique set of circumstances, there are some themes that we see many organizations looking to address:
- How best to use digital tools in order to get closer to end-customers or the public, improving customer or citizen intimacy to deliver a more tailored experience
- How to use automation to control operating costs while delivering more value to end-customers
- How to help employees be more effective in the workplace with tools that they need to better do their job
Look at the challenges through different lenses
Our approach, HXD, is a great vehicle for digital co-creation as it provides a framework within which diverse groups of people can work creatively to address a business challenge. The diversity of the participants is an essential component.
Rather than relying on the usual suspects, we call on people with insight in industry, in business functions within customer organizations and of course top technology experts from Fujitsu and from our partner network. No single organization has all the answers.
Fujitsu HXD is used to blend the multiple perspectives around a common goal.
Rather than starting with a technology focus we address the challenge through the lens of impacted and interested stakeholders to ensure we create truly human-centered concepts.
The DTC provides a safe space. The rules of engagement that the moderator introduces at the beginning of the session, help open up participants to a far more transparent and honest conversation than in usual business meetings.
To inspire creative and new thinking, customer participants and Fujitsu experts work in mixed teams to address a pre-agreed challenge.
It is critical that this challenge is linked to the wider business strategy. With so many competing demands, we know that investment of time and money should be targeted on the most impactful areas.
The purpose-built space, the digital tools, and the methodology create a demonstrative environment within which everyone involved in the co-creation activity has an equal voice. For example, working in small teams helps ensure that the most vocal person in the room does not necessarily get all of the air time. There are multiple opportunities and techniques to ensure that each co-creator’s opinion is shared.
Often our participants report that during this rapid informal style of working the organizational boundaries are blurred, and they forget who works for which part of the business or even for which company.
The benefit for customers is that they develop an outline concept that is informed by insight from people across the business and strongly linked to the wider strategy. In turn, this can easily be translated into a scope of requirements to inform the next stages.
This can be agreed with the relevant people in the room, in a short period of time, in an environment which opens their eyes to different possibilities. Co-creation workshops help customers to build consensus around ideas by bringing their various stakeholders into the DTC. Work that usually takes weeks is minimized down into one session.
Introducing the challenge, looking at it from various perspectives, and putting it into the context of the business strategy via building a vision, creating ideas and prototypes to voting and selection, can all be completed in just a few hours.
And what’s even better – strict timekeeping speeds up the communication and leads to very open and honest conversations. People get right to the point, which usually does not happen in a normal business meeting.
There are two things businesses really need: Great ideas and great execution
You want to be sure that this way of working is a good investment of time and management effort. We have proven that the DTCs are great places for generating purposeful ideas rapidly with all those different perspectives included, leading to something of real value. And it helps the execution because the right people are in the room at the beginning of the journey.
Providing expert input and being part of the process creates a sense of shared ownership, which means no-one forgets once they’ve left the room and galvanizes a sense of shared purpose in pursuing the rapid application of emerging concepts back in the workplace. Great ideas and great execution, who doesn’t want those?
We get a lot of very positive feedback from our customers. People who have been skeptical before the workshop attest that Fujitsu’s HXD methodology – the type of process and moderation, the way of communicating and working quickly, the documentation of results - is totally different to other design thinking workshops they attended before and that it delivers tangible outcomes of great value.
People also often ask me what the difference between Fujitsu HXD and approaches used by other companies is. Let me highlight three fundamental differences:
- Fujitsu HXD has been refined specifically for digital transformation. It has not been born out of product design and re-purposed.
- Unlike other approaches that are focused on innovation at any cost and discrete in their application, we are using Fujitsu HXD only for challenges that are linked to wider business strategy. A key element of the approach is the development of a vision that illustrates the link between solution development and immediate business value.
- We have created a set of digital tools that are truly unique and designed to bring the best out of human creative skills, allowing people to behave naturally but think differently.
I will explore this in more detail in my next blog. But for now, think about co-creation if you are facing a business challenge and know that you don’t have all the answers.
If you are in a position where you can invest time of the appropriate people across your business to address the challenge, working alongside experts from technology and wider industry, then the results might be more than you expect.