Tobias Haug on Design Thinking at SAP (002)

Welcome to episode two of season one where we focus on how to bring design and innovation to large organizations. In this episode I’ve talked to Tobias Haug. Tobias is a Head of Design & Co-Innovation Center, EMEA at SAP.

As we all know, it is challenging to engage individuals, teams, and organizations in design thinking. While, there is no “one size fits all solution”, Tobias shares some insightful experiences and stories on this very topic. From my point of view, this interview highlights the importance of being employee and colleague centric when trying to educate others in working with customers and users.

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Highlights from the interview:

  • How Design Thinking went viral through what some would call an initial failure
  • How Toby and his team turned from Design Thinking skeptics to Design Thinking advocates
  • How to involve your B2B customers in design thinking and importance of bringing SAP customers along in the DT journey
  • Some advice on what to do if you just start out
  • How to support B2B clients in bringing design thinking to their organization
  • The challenging role of the middle managers and the importance of addressing them
  • The importance and challenge of setting up the right space internally and at customer sites
  • The future of design thinking – challenge bringing DT into global enterprises, the importance of collaborating and thinking beyond organizational boundaries

Practical Nuggets

Tool: SAP has put a UX value calculator online that is able to calculate what clients would get from investing into UX.

Strategies: Convincing potential clients in a B2B environment

Storytelling by former clients that speak on the behalf of the SAP teams to their B2B clients

Start a new engagement with a light design thinking workshop – “very often that is enough and get understand people to feel the [benefits] of the approach you are trying to bring them”

Strategy: How to convince internal stakeholder about the impact and use of Design Thinking?
[35:00] “Convince with facts, always start with a concrete [pilot] project that you have solved using design thinking – where you have, by solving it show innovation … but also getting feedback from the team that was involved on how they perceived that working environment – these are strong factors to promote to your internal stakeholders the value of this approach.”

[36:20] “Second, we have all been there, we know how it is to be the inspired person in an organization that just doesn’t seem to get [what they want] quite yet, and it is so important not to loose that momentum, that motivation. And for myself I found it within SAP by finding those other colleagues that were just as inspired, … so you would always somebody that is helping you to get back upon your feet and still [supports] you to try the approach that you feel is better.”

[36:30] “Additionally, I think what we are seeing is the rise of design thinking networks. So it’s just not within one company, but also [people] in companies starting to speak to one another about this whole topic about design, implementing design thinking, the culture of change that is involved with that and it is an amazing effect to see that, that support network is starting to really grow in new dimensions. So we starting to see companies to talk to one another about how did they do it. About saying, ‘hey, that is an interesting thing! Can you come and talk to my management about your experience to convince them and then that same company would go back to the first company and exchange their experience as well.’ ”

Insight: When design thinking expert teams are assigned to a novice team the novice team might take this as a signal that there is something wrong with them. Hence, as in Tobias’ case, the novice team might be very skeptical about the “expert team”. Tobias talked about how he experienced a good working climate, as essential in overcoming this initial skepticism. For him a collaborative, fun, open and inclusive experience, turned him and his team from skeptics into keen collaborators and eventually advocates. [42:00]

References shared by Tobias:

Design at Business Community link:

Inside the SAP AppHaus

Season 1 Episode 2 Cover - Tobias Haug SAP
Season 1 Episode 2 Cover – Tobias Haug SAP

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