In 2016, when I started Align, I knew strategy would be my core service, but there needed to be more.
At the heart of it, I want to help people reach their full potential and affect positive impact on the greater good. At the time, I had a growing positive reaction to human-centered design (HCD)— a problem solving and creative development process used in product development and popular with many of the best product and services companies.
Remarkable Ideas – Well Executed
Much of business is about influencing human behavior, which is why business needs to be more human-centered. This means putting the individual at the center of the process— not technology, processes, or the thing you are selling. Specifically, it’s a development process that focuses on the customers’ needs, from their point of view.
This isn’t about using feel-good methods. It’s about creating home-run solutions, which happens when you use deep and unique insights about what's important to the affected audience. This piece is about converting novel, ‘killer’ ideas into amazing customer experiences. It's the creative piece.
In addition, for me, being human-centered means factoring in human nature, like what motivates people, how teams work, and what holds us back. This stuff shows up in an organizational culture and an individual’s work habits. It can stop strategy dead in its tracks, if it’s not taken into consideration. This piece is about execution and accountability.
A Strategy Process That’s Lean, Systemic and Innovative
At Align I’ve taken the HCD concepts and applied it to strategy. Strategy starts with the humans it’s intended to affect—including owners, employees, customers and the community.
I start with Purpose.
· Why does this business exist?
· Who, specifically, are you serving? Who can benefit from your purpose and expertise?
A business strategy should focus considerable attention on customers. Among other things, it should also factor in the marketplace, social trends, technology, industry changes, and your capabilities and resources.
Align is a human-centered strategy company that helps businesses grow. We employ strategy techniques and some lean start-up tools that lead to development of an innovative business model and a competitive strategy. This applies to young companies, as well as established companies who are continually adapting and growing. The approach and the outcomes are different and better than what you see in a typical strategic planning process.
On Your Terms
Let me interject a separate idea. In addition to developing better business model strategies by making them human-centered—my process for working with a business on its strategy is also human-centered. I’m flexible. I know you have many constraints on your time, your resources and your mental space. I make the process of working together enjoyable and productive! I approach each client differently, depending on where they are, what they’re trying to achieve, and what they’ve got to work with.
In short, Align helps companies develop a ‘killer’ strategy, using an approach that doesn’t ‘kill’ anyone in the process. This entails:
· Taking pain out of the process.
· Being curious about what motivates you and your team.
· Walking along side you to overcome obstacles and regularly check for progress.
· Being deeply customer-focused.
· Discovering stand-out solutions by tapping into the creativity and unique insights of team members.
Together we can create a strategy designed for growth that addresses what customers want, what your people can deliver, and what you consider success.
UPDATE - Sept 20, 2018
I wrote this over a year ago and would change very little about this article, except to add more references to the mounting evidence of the effectiveness of strategic design as the best way to lead business innovation. Here’s just one of thousands of articles you can read to better understand Human-Centered Design and Design Thinking. Forbes’ article on Design Thinking. Cheers!