Scaling: From individuals to pyramid
Though the Design Ambassador workshops were creating an elite group of viral change agents, to truly scale, we needed to provide multiple paths and levels of engagement. In early 2017, we began defining a pyramid-shaped framework to do just that.
At the bottom we placed small, bite-sized teaser content like innovation and design events, a virtual support community, posters to communicate new ways of working, and a single-page guide for formulating and submitting human-centred challenges and solutions.
At the second level of the pyramid we created a virtual course in Design Thinking open to all BBVA employees. This project-based course was designed to empower everyone with basic tools for innovation.
The third level of the pyramid, the Design Ambassador workshops and coaching, were already in place. To further incentivise and grow the Ambassadors, we began developing a series of Master Classes.
Finally, we created a parallel track for leaders with customised workshops focused on proving the value of Design Thinking and empowering each leader to act as an innovation enabler for their team.
Redesigning the organisation: From challenges to innovation
As part of our research effort, we spoke with dozens of Ambassadors and discovered that as they endeavoured to work differently, they were often bumping into institutional challenges: misunderstandings across teams, legacy processes and structures, cultural biases, etc. To create lasting change, the business needed to go beyond just its employees, but instead to reshape process and structure.
Like most mature organisations, over time, bureaucracy had built up and BBVA had become less friendly to innovation. But there was a silver lining: The Design Ambassadors were able to identify barriers to innovation that were often invisible to those operating with a business-as-usual mind-set. The Ambassadors became the canaries in the coal mine.
As the most common challenges came into focus, the next step was to remove or reimagine them. With a set of recipes, Ambassadors were empowered to individually tackle institutional challenges, effectively redesigning the organisation from the inside out.
Measuring impact: From numbers to stories
The importance and challenge of measurement and reporting cannot be overstated. Instead of building innovative products and services for customers, Design Transformation focuses on building the capacity for innovation, so measuring direct financial impact is not a metric we consider.
An early challenge was obtaining baseline metrics. When the programme launched two years ago, the reporting tools needed were not yet in place. By the time they were, the baseline had shifted.
A second challenge was finding the right metrics to track. We experimented with a number of mostly quantitative metrics with mixed results. In retrospect, it is clear that a successful approach must combine deep qualitative stories with broader quantitative extrapolation. We are still learning, and our Program is evolving.
Design Transformation: A new value proposition for design
Design, regardless of who practices it, is and has always been present in any business, either by action or by omission. Historically it has been the former. But now, rapid changes in technology have pushed design irreversibly into the core and spotlight of large organisations. Many digitally-focused businesses like BBVA are not only buying/building strong internal design teams, they are spreading design capacity throughout their organisations, training non-designers in design mind-sets and methods, essentially democratising design and experimenting with new paradigms of organisational change.
From the designer’s point of view, we have opened part of our toolbox to our colleagues in the organisation. This has had a very positive impact on the organisation and on the designers. It has facilitated design work in projects, due to increased awareness of design processes, and is generating a common framework, strengthening an equal and collaborative relationship between business, technology and design teams.
We found that design-led transformation efforts are not a substitute for traditional change management paradigms, but rather a powerful complement and extender. At BBVA, applying a service design filter to organisational change has reduced abstraction, providing a clear set of actionable behaviour changes. It has helped BBVA reorient the entire company around the customer.
Design has also enabled an organic, bottom-up process that evolved by learning at each step. This approach fosters the cultural mind-set that service companies are about people who have to work together to offer innovative solutions that fit the real needs of other people: BBVA’s customers, clients and colleagues.