“The Design Thinking mindset, Co-Creation and the radical collaboration of interdisciplinary teams helps to succeed in dancing with the ambiguity.”

Michael Lewrick

Digital transformation starts with the new mindset.

Innoboard: Digital transformation affects all industries and companies. What does digital transformation mean to you, and what technologies, ideas and concepts will shape our future the most?

Michael Lewrick: For me, digital transformation starts always with a new mindset. It is important to get employees and teams engaged. In most cases it becomes paramount to think and act transversally across all company silos to make first a shift happens. In “The Design Thinking Playbook” we use a metaphor for digital transformation and comparethis step with a deep trench that organizations should overcome. The Design Thinking mindset, Co-Creation and the radical collaboration of interdisciplinary teams helps to succeed in dancing with the ambiguity. From my experience, it is good to give the people in the organization space so they can go through the cognitive process on their own and shape a new shared understanding in common—a mindset that matches the respective organization and its employees.  However, the first necessary step is always to throw one’s own assumptions overboard. Currently, we see a lot of proof of concepts (PoCs) with Blockchain technology. The concept of decentralizes ledgers and smart contracts has the potential to shape the future. In some industries there might be the potential for a revolution.


How do those new technologies enable and require new forms of value creation and new business models? 

New technologies like Blockchain, AI etc. are only enablers that allow a radical shift for many market players. However, the development of new value streams and business models become more complex.
Over the last years, I have been working on a framework to (re-)designing business ecosystems with various colleagues from academia and industry. The result is a framework that allows to design a business ecosystem in three loops. The last loop aims to verify and test the MVE (Minimum Viable Ecosystem). This model has proven to be very useful in designing marketplaces, blockchain initiatives and/or the token economics in the context of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).


You are an expert in design thinking. How can design thinking help companies strengthen their innovation culture and master the challenges of the digital transformation?

Design Thinking is an iterative, team-oriented approach that focusses internally to build teams-of-teams and includes at the same time the external world, known as the potential customer in a problem-solving effort. In the early design steps, the first results are achieved by the means of rapid iterations, prototyping and testing with the customer. This is often done with simple, physical prototypes (mock-ups) and critical functions or experiences. Also, digital solutions or software applications can be tested with simple prototypes. This creates a bridge between of the physical and digital world. Especially in the early phases of innovation projects, with a high degree of uncertainty and ambiguity regarding technological possibilities, customer feedback is of paramount importance. An innovation culture evolves from making things happen, failing fast and often, combined with a frequent effort to reflect and learn from the different design thinking projects.


What advice do you have for companies who want to work with design thinking, what are major pitfalls and how can teams and companies maximize the outcome of using design thinking?

Take it serious and focus on real functions and experiences. I must admit that design thinking is sometimes applied in a shallow way. It has become so widespread and it is interpreted in many ways, that the degrees of effectiveness vary a lot. To maximize the outcome, you need well trained facilitators, coaches and hardworking interdisciplinary teams, acting and thinking like designers. Applying design thinking in the right and professional setting helps to create new, powerful solutions to improve outcomes for the people they are serving.


What is your personal recommendation to our readers?

I would encourage everyone to apply the design thinking mindset to design your own life or future. Once, you have developed self-efficacy, awareness for system thinking and a deep understanding of your own needs to create a new future, you might be ready to take the challenge for your products and services as well.


About Michael Lewrick:

Michael Lewrick, PhD is an international speaker and teaches design thinking as visiting professor at various universities. He had different roles over the last few years. He was responsible for strategic growth, acted as Chief Innovation Officer and laid the foundation for numerous growth initiatives in sectors that are in a transition. With his help, many international companies have developed and commercialized radical innovations. In his new international bestseller, “The Design Thinking Playbook”, he postulated with his colleagues from Stanford University a new mindset of converging approaches of design thinking in digitization. Currently, his research interests focus on the Design of Business Ecosystems for Blockchain applications in the Crypto Valley, Switzerland.