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When it comes to realizing corporate success, it’s essential to identify key corporate goals. But unlike bold personal goals, corporate goals are much more complex. Not only must these pursuits consider an array of variables like budgets, legalities, and resources. But they must somehow integrate these factors together in the midst of competing needs and demands of different areas. While this is true for any company objectives, it is certainly evident in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals. Fortunately, businesses can overcome these challenges by employing a design thinking process.

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A design thinking process is one that is iterative and highly creative. It strives to understand stakeholders while challenging norms and embracing creative innovation. Interestingly, the use of such an approach is mutually enhanced by a commitment to DEI. Since diversity, equity and inclusion boost creativity and innovation, these two go hand-in-hand. Because of this, it is important that corporations understand how to best utilize a design thinking process. Not only can this strategy increase the capacity to attain DEI goals but other major company objectives as well.

“Design thinking is neither art nor science nor religion. It is the capacity, ultimately, for integrative thinking.” – Tim Brown, Co-CEO of IDEO

Exploring the Design Thinking Process

Understanding the complexity of corporate goals, many have embraced design thinking as a means to better achieve their objectives. As an iterative and interactive process, it requires companies to define key targets, empathize with users, and generate creative ideas. This is then followed by prototype development, testing and continued refinement until key goals are attained. But not every goal deserves such attention, and not every corporation will have similar targets. As a result, companies must explore the degree of inspiration, feasibility, and viability that each potential goal may have. A design thinking process can help greatly in making these assessments.

Overall, there are some general rules when trying to pursue a design thinking process. For one, such strategies invite failures early and often as a means to grow and innovate. They also encourage everyone’s ideas without prejudice and infuse confidence in the creative process. With these caveats in place, specific company goals can then be defined based on the level of passion they inspire as well as their feasibility and viability. The level of inspiration explores the degree of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that exist from a broader perspective. Feasibility then assesses whether the pursuit is worthwhile based on existing technology, talent, and other practical issues. Finally, viability examines long-term financial supports, benefits and risks, and other potential barriers. These are the areas that every company should examine of each corporate goal, including DEI goals, when applying design thinking.

“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” -  Elon Musk

Pursuing Corporate DEI Goals

Before delving into DEI goals, it’s important to appreciate effective corporate goal-setting strategies. Like personal goals, corporate goals should be SMART ones – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. At the same time, companies can invoke best practices in goal achievement activities that complement a design thinking process. These practices include developing accountability measures, publicizing goals for stakeholders to see, and developing a detailed plan of action. With these in place, the success rate of attaining company goals will be significantly increased. A design thinking process further improves the chances by infusing inspiration, feasibility, and viability into these pursuits.

In regard to DEI goals, every corporation can benefit from these endeavors. These can be broken down into general DEI goals and more specific ones. General DEI objectives might assess company recruiting and promotion practices, employee satisfaction levels, and overall commitment levels to DEI. More specific DEI goals can then consider individual objectives involving diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, expanded diversity might explore diversity training, management diversity, and board-level diversity. Broader equity targets might include measuring bias, compensation equity, and equity policies and practices. Finally, greater inclusion efforts might adopt mentoring programs or increase CEO commitment levels. By creating these types of DEI goals that are also SMART goals, companies will enjoy greater success.

“No true measure of business accomplishment on a global scale is possible without diversity, and once inclusion enters into the equation, success will follow.” – Ed Kopko, CEO of Bold Business and Author of Project Bold Life

The Design Thinking Ideas Scoring Tool

As mentioned, a design thinking process involves assessing goals based on their levels of inspiration, feasibility and viability. But at the same time, different targets will have different priorities for a particular company. For example, one company may prioritize DEI goals related to diversity training while another is focused on diversity recruitment. Understanding this, companies must assign specific “weights” to their DEI goals before implementing a design thinking process. In doing so, corporations will be better able to align the most important DEI goals with success targets. This is how the design thinking process can help integrate the many complex aspects of corporations in defining key goals.

With this in mind, the following diagram visually depicts a Design Thinking Ideas Scoring Tool that can be used to aid corporations.

For DEI goals, different ones can be scored on a 1-10 scale based on their levels of inspiration, feasibility, and viability. Then, based on the priority weight assigned to each goal, these scores are then adjusted. An average of these adjusted scores is then calculated, providing a total point score for each of the DEI goals. Thus, a design thinking process would then be applied to those with the highest totals. This scoring tool is effective because it helps utilize key components of the design thinking process in evaluating priority goals. This instrument may not only be used for DEI goals but for a variety of corporate goals.

Leveraging DEI to Boost Buy-In

In pursuing all company goals, corporations must achieve buy-in from its stakeholders. This has been linked to success in goal attainment and naturally increases levels of motivation. Notably, companies that rank high in DEI are often able to achieve such buy-in more easily than others. Because diversity is celebrated, and because everyone feels included, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation levels tend to be higher. Such an environment is then strengthened even more when companies choose to engage in a design thinking process.


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