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Transforming a Product-Centric Firm Into a Customer & Design-Led Services Firm



Melis Senova

Co-founder and Chief Service Designer, FromHereOn



Hugh Evans

Co-founder and CEO, FromHereOn



Thursday 30 April - 11:15-12:00




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A large financial services organization (6000 plus) made a bold decision to become a customer and design-led organization. The initiative came directly from the CEO and permeated throughout the organization. Although a clear intention was set, a strategy to realize the transformation was not.


There was ambiguity about what it meant to be a customer-led organization. We used our strategic design methodology (deep design in particular) to help reveal a connection between purpose, strategic intention, organizational stance, objectives/outcomes all the way down to appearances and experiences. This culminated in a clear articulation of the strategy which clarified what it meant to become customer-centric in their respective industry.


As becoming customer centric required changes to the fundamental ways in which work was done at the organization, it required the production and design of an approach that addressed key cognitive and capability principles such as; mindsets - how we be, knowledge sets - what we know, skill sets - what we know how to do and tool sets - the things that helps us do what we do.


The other challenge we addressed was to re-design and redefine what success meant within the organization. As an organization predominantly built around the immediate measurement and feedback of discrete interactions, this posed some challenges to get things off the ground. Initial attempts to introduce staff members to new approaches in design thinking (and acting) were met with comments like, “it’s not hitting the mark”, with questionnaires that had many respondents in the neutral category. The natural inclination of the organization was to say - pause - this is not working, without enquiring as to whether that was precisely the result we wanted to see.


We needed to design new ways to measure meaningful impact within the organization and introduce new perspectives to understand what progress looked like. With an ingrained culture of execution, positioning and sustaining a relatively unperceivable change initiative was both challenging and rewarding. Successful design is often measured by how inconspicuous and intuitive it is, so the change had to be almost unnoticeable if done correctly. To see the notion of ‘native change’ emerge was fantastic, to the extent that the inside joke ‘See… Transformed Ya!’ was affectionately coined.


This presentation will outline the design challenge “how might we transform a product-centric financial services firm into a customer & design-led services firm”. It will explain how the organizational narrative flowed through to create the necessary memes, propagated the symbols of design and customer, produced an articulation of the strategy and finally, described a desired state that materialized as a result of the deep design process.





Melis Senova
Melis is the main provocateur when it comes to encouraging creative and pragmatic solutions. Our founder is passionate about inspiring motivational change within organisations. With her vast business experience, underpinned by a PhD in Human Factors (user-centred design) she is naturally focused on customer centricity alongside design and innovation.

Her areas of expertise covers service strategy, strategic service design, experience design, concept prototyping, systems engineering, program management and human factors research. Melis is a contributing author to “This is Service Design Thinking” the very first textbook on Service Design published in 2011. She is an Associate at Monash School of Medicine, working with senior leaders in Southern Health to re-imagine health services through the strategic use of design. She also sits on the advisory board at RMIT School of Architecture and Industrial Design.


Hugh Evans
Hugh Evans is an entrepreneur and business designer with a focus on large scale enterprise transformation and using design practice in a business context. Since his first venture in 2002 he has founded and led the development of a business portfolio that has guided major transformation investments for organizations across 5 continents, generating more than US$100M in service revenues. Currently Hugh leads FromHereOn, which is an Enterprise Design firm focused on customer-led strategy, service transformation and redesigning how businesses operate. FromHereOn works with multinational organizations from offices in London and New York.




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9/15/2019 » 9/17/2019
dmi:Design Leadership Conference - #dlc19

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