Today’s businesses are facing change all around. Their success depends on how nimbly they can pivot and adapt in turning change into an opportunity for growth. Now, is the time to accelerate the power of design to tackle this change and transform it into opportunity.

Today’s businesses are facing change all around. Their success depends on how nimbly they can pivot and adapt in turning change into an opportunity for growth. Now, is the time to accelerate the power of design to tackle this change and transform it into opportunity.

In a matter of weeks, the world has radically changed as economies, relationships, and lives have been disrupted and threatened by COVID-19. The human toll continues to spread beyond health as businesses small and large face monumental change. All businesses are being tested on their ability to be adaptive and resilient in times of immense change.

chip manufacture

Public health scientist running a sequencing machine. CDC/ Daniel Drapeau

JD Logistics

JD.com used autonomous vehicles to deliver food in Wuhan.

Accelerating Innovation in Crisis

During crisis, severe constraints and harsh realities force companies to be creative and innovative to ensure survival and future sustainability. And to do this right, companies need a compass to guide their efforts in addressing change. Design Acceleration serves as this compass. Design Acceleration brings immediate action, clarity, creativity, and velocity through an agile process: envisioning and realizing real solutions that solve today’s problems and position companies for the future. It is more than thinking, it is engaging in creative action to produce real results.

Design Acceleration is already happening all around us through spontaneous acts of human ingenuity. People are rising to the challenge, identifying immediate needs, and iteratively innovating on the fly to design new solutions. From medical teams creating makeshift equipment, teachers rapidly crafting new distance learning models or businesses implementing new features for evolved services, nimble innovation is alive. It is inspiring to see communities coming together and ideas flowing to address this watershed moment.

"People are rising to the challenge, identifying immediate needs, and iteratively innovating on the fly to design new solutions."

protective mask

Rowan University reusable 3-D printed protective masks.

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Empowering Design Acceleration

As a design accelerator, Punchcut empowers companies to boldly embrace change and rapidly transform products and organizations for the future. For over 18 years, we’ve consulted and led companies through the pivotal points of business transformation due to major technology shifts and evolving human behaviors. As one of the first mobile design companies, we began by helping companies to quickly understand new mobile lifestyle rituals and created scalable design solutions to meet customer needs on-the-move. The shift from fixed point experiences to mobile experiences was not simply a device change but a major mindset shift in how to create practical and useful services for people.

From those early mobile days, we’ve continued to lead companies through innovation in the most critical times of change and opportunity — from transforming wellness through fitness wearables for FitBit to helping Toyota define their autonomous future to defining the path for reinventing Skype’s service for the next generation, each is an example of how Design Acceleration can transform businesses in the face of uncertainty.

Punchcut wearable and smart appliance design solutions.

Solving Problems with Creative Action

Over the years, we have seen how design acceleration can guide companies through change. Each of our clients is unique in its mission and position on the change curve. But all share a set of common challenges which align with the core actions of Design Acceleration – clarity, unity, creativity, and velocity.

1. Balancing Immediate and Long-Term Impact
When facing change, most companies need to address both immediate and long-term impact. But they struggle with how to affect change in both directions with limited time and resources. The tendency moves from being too slow, reactive or incremental in analyzing and assessing the future that they miss the curve. Design Acceleration brings maximum velocity to balance both tangible results and forward momentum.

2. Capturing Real-Time Insight and Outcomes
Looking to an uncertain future, many companies lack the critical insight into their customer’s actual needs regarding current and future behaviors to guide their change plan. Either, they have too much data or are running too fast to conduct traditional research. In either case, these companies need clarity around the right problems to be solved and a clear mission and outcome. Design Acceleration drives clarity with actionable customer insight and intentional roadmaps for evolution.

3. Inspiring Methods for Rapid Innovation
When the status quo has been shattered, creativity is a necessity. Legacy mindsets or a lack of creative process can hinder companies’ abilities to effectively think outside of the box. No matter the type of organization (traditional or cutting-edge), strong creative leadership is needed to bring inspirational principles and practical methods to the innovation process. Design Acceleration inspires spontaneous creativity and dynamic methods that push beyond the expected.

4. Maintaining Seamless Continuity and Cooperation
When everything is changing, the demands can feel chaotic and disjointed. Disparate teams can become myopic in their ability to see the big picture and think holistically. Teams which may have downsized are overworked and have new gaps to fill. Design Acceleration brings a holistic perspective to unify teams, fill in the gaps and instill a more cooperative view across their entire ecosystem.

At each sea change moment, the future was unclear for each client but the imperatives were evident. Change was the only answer. By embracing Design Acceleration as a mindset and method, it helped to bring structure, inspiration and actionable solutions that could drive new growth.

Building Resilience With Design

As restrictions ease and companies emerge from the COVID crisis, the true economic and human impact remains unclear. History has shown that it is the most resilient companies that not only survive but ultimately thrive in a changed world. And now more than ever, businesses and lives depend on how well we collectively adapt and lean into this moment as an opportunity for growth to move us all to a better place.

Though the road ahead will be difficult, we can embrace Design Acceleration as a key to resilience. And not simply think about design, we must put it into action. Design has the power to instill confidence in times of uncertainty and inspire rapid innovation. Design begins with people and ends with people. It fuels and guides human ingenuity and creativity. Together, we must face this moment of change and strive to build stronger companies, a stronger workforce, and stronger communities.


Find more on Design Acceleration at www.punchcut.com/designacceleration

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A Punchcut Perspective
Contributors: Ken Olewiler, Jared Benson, Joy Wong Daniels

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