Could Design Centred Thinking be the solution to Australia’s innovation conundrum?


Everything in our world is touched by “design” and therefore can be redesigned, a concept like design or human-centred thinking (DCT) provides leaders with a low-risk option for moving beyond the traditional mindset of “what can’t be done.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Innovation Statement clearly signalled the need for Australian business leaders to rethink their attitudes towards risk taking, particularly when it comes to product and service innovation. Prime Minister Turnbull argues that when compared to countries such as the US and Israel, Australian business leaders are trailing behind when it comes to “innovative risk taking”. The prime minister’s statement suggesting Australian business leaders need to “embrace a culture of innovation” is undoubtedly hollow rhetoric unless Australian business leaders are prepared to embrace a more innovative and “risk centred” mindset to growth.

At last year’s Workforce Productivity Conference, which featured a diverse selection of international and local business leaders that included Richard Dobbs, Director, McKinsey Global Institute, Richard Umbers, CEO for the Myer Group, and Tim Fung, CEO of Airtasker, it became abundantly clear that the speed of disruption is outpacing the rate of innovation resulting in a widening gap in Australia’s capacity to remain globally competitive. For many business leaders, this new paradigm combined with the government’s commitment to review outdated insolvency laws should create the perfect opportunity for Australian business leaders to rethink their entrenched attitudes towards risk taking. The question however is whether Australian business leaders are willing to put aside their conservative attitudes towards risk and make the necessary changes in order to become globally competitive.

Whilst the significant majority of Australian business leaders continue to focus on keeping their heads above water, Australia’s largest organisations including Telstra, Optus and CBA are quietly turning to Design-Centred Thinking (DCT) in an effort to remain globally competitive and shake off entrenched attitudes towards product and service redesign. A strategy which is proving to be highly effective in helping them better understand their customers whilst minimising the risks associated with product innovation


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