Programme launched by DesignSingapore, McKinsey to help local firms improve business models

Representatives from DesignSingapore Council and McKinsey Design and SaladStop!'s managing director Adrien Desbaillets during the launch of the programme. PHOTO: DESIGNSINGAPORE COUNCIL

SINGAPORE -SaladStop! customers who have issues with the ordering app might be vocal and delivery drivers who have a hard time finding pick-up points might vent their frustration at the ground staff.

But this type of feedback that could help the salad shop chain improve to satisfy its customers - and stop revenue from potentially dropping - might not reach the corporate office if it is not flagged in a systematic way.

With this in mind, the company's staff members attended a pilot programme earlier this month, called the Business Value of Design.

On Thursday (Nov 26), the programme was officially launched by the DesignSingapore Council (DSG) in partnership with business strategy and design firm McKinsey Design. McKinsey Design is the design arm of American management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, while DSG is a subsidiary of the Economic Development Board.

The scheme uses a design thinking approach to come up with solutions to improve a firm's bottom line.

Following the programme pilot, SaladStop! tweaked its processes.

Now, recommendations from managers on how customer experience can be boosted are surfaced to the corporate office on a weekly basis, instead of on an ad-hoc basis, said the firm's managing director, Mr Adrien Desbaillets, on Thursday.

More companies like SaladStop! that are looking to improve and transform how they do business amid the challenges posed by the pandemic can now tap on the expertise of consultants from a leading business strategy and design firm under the programme.

It consists of two phases, the first of which is free.

First, a firm will undertake a self-assessment using the McKinsey Design Index online tool. Companies will receive a detailed diagnosis of how they have incorporated good design into their business processes, while gaining an insight on how what can improve their business performance.

This takes about 45 minutes to complete. Firms can complete the assessment any time from now till Dec 31.

The McKinsey Design Index is a metric that rates companies according to four core areas that are linked with improved financial performance. They include user experience, where products are designed to provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users, and having cross-functional teams, where firms recognise that user-centric design is everyone's responsibility.

The second phase of the programme, which is subsidised by DSG, will cost $2,500. Experts from McKinsey Design will guide firms to take practical steps to address areas of improvement that have been flagged, culminating in a detailed business plan for a key product or service. These hands-on sessions will likely take place online.

The first phase is open to all companies, while selected companies will be invited to participate in the second phase, which will take place from Jan 25 to Feb 5 next year. Up to 100 companies can take part in the second phase and if demand for the programme is healthy, more spaces can be opened up in subsequent rounds, said Mr Mark Wee, DSG's executive director.

He added that DSG felt it was timely to launch this scheme now that firms are in the midst of re-imagining their business models. "Everyone has been forced on to the digital bandwagon and forced to rethink what customers need now... It helps to give them a concrete indicator of what they need to do (to reach out to customers)."

Mr Desbaillets said the biggest takeaway that he gained from the pilot run was an appreciation of how such design thinking approaches need to be applied to many facets of the organisation and not just to individual projects.

As the programme was delivered in bite-sized doses, it also did not require a huge commitment from the firm in terms of time and bandwidth.

"They're not hand-holding you and making you go through weeks and weeks of work... It's up to you to take the frameworks (you have been given) and to apply that to your organisation," he added.

Interested firms can go to this website to sign up for the programme.

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