OCBC and ChapmanCG recently hosted a group of Regional Talent Leaders in Singapore at the impressive OCBC campus to discuss how ideas from the world of Design are impacting HR and the Employee Experience. The insightful and interactive session was led by Lucienne Blessing, Co-Director and Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and Bojan Blecic, SVP and Head of Experience Design at OCBC. The aim of the session was to gather how design thinking can be incorporated as an enabler to successfully delivering broader HR strategies.

Design thinking is still a relatively fledgling concept in the context of the mainstream HR organisation; however, in recent times companies have increasingly begun to focus on what is essentially an employee-centric approach to processes that revolve around the employee experience.

Simplify

The modern workplace is often plagued by an amalgamation of overly complex processes, and design thinking can be an effective tool to challenge, strip and realign processes to focus on the employee’s personal experience. By creating processes and solutions that are simplified yet engaging, design thinking can have a positive effect on overall productivity whilst increasing an individual’s satisfaction within their role.

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Start Small, Earn Credibility

The experiences shared by our leaders in attendance illustrate the common mistake of trying to make significant changes on a macro business level, which sets expectations extremely high and often ends in failure when expectation and experience are misaligned. Design thinking is a learned process (both on an individual and organisational level) and as such, successful projects are typically those that were initially rolled out on a small-scale, team- or functional-level where variables are more manageable. Once individuals have adapted to challenging processes and making small, key changes, the approach can then can be scaled up and rolled out across a broader portfolio.

Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver, Repeat

Once the problem is discovered and defined, the change process must be validated through effective communication. With design thinking, it is essential to identify and involve the key stakeholder population from the outset, and what is often overlooked is their continued involvement. This key stakeholder population must understand the business landscape and be able to address complex issues in a constantly evolving environment. And once others are able to see the value of the change that’s being implemented, adaption will occur at a greater scale and the positive change will become long-term only once employees see the key stakeholder population committed to this “reiterate and repeat” process.

In Essence

Design thinking must be technically feasible from a business standpoint. Results must be measurable and, because change is often received with negative sentiment, a step-by-step approach is needed to ensure expectation and experience are aligned. The changes must also be desirable and focused on human-centred innovations that can often be better facilitated by utilising advances in digital and technological capability.

Many thanks to all in attendance for sharing their experiences, to Lucienne and Bojan for their expert views, and to OCBC's Aye Wee Yap, SVP and Head of Learning and Development, for hosting.