Patti has held a variety of senior positions in Australia and Hong Kong that fall under the Design umbrella, including Strategic Design, Service Design and User Experience (UX). Her clients range from global corporations to local startups who want to differentiate on their customer experience, products, services or value proposition. She believes that the best business leaders have the eye of a designer, the mind of an engineer and the heart of an entrepreneur.
Patti and I have not actually met in person yet but we regularly hang out on Skype and share ideas and thinking on how the design community is changing and what this means for the type of change we want to make in the world. I can't wait to visit Patti and her team in Hong Kong this September. Here's what she has to say...
What’s your burning question of the moment?
Why aren't more large corporates interested in fundamentally changing the way they operate?
Most corporates are talking about digital strategies, big data and digital transformation but I think the impact of disruptive change is more about psychology than it is about technology.
The business model of an organisation absolutely shapes how people perceive, think, feel and behave. Technology-driven change is still taking place because industrial age business models remain intact and unchallenged.
Organisations that were set up for optimisation, efficiency and to maximise profit might talk about being customer and employee centric but it’s not easy to change your DNA. So instead of seeing advances in technology as a way to accelerate cultural, psychological and behavioural change, they are still being seen as a way to scale profitability.
The hack is that radical innovation need not be at the expense of profit - in fact it will most likely increase profit over the longer term. However, companies must willing to challenge and change the underlying business model to unlock different kinds of real value.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?
I’d like to say two things!
The first is when we ran some Design Thinking workshops in the Philippines earlier this year and it was inspiring to see how many local entrepreneurs are interested in tackling difficult and complex problems like poverty, corruption and safety.
When working with startups, we see a lot of shopping, food delivery and taxi apps... so it was great to see some action at the other end of the spectrum!
The second is that I’ve met some genuinely inspiring people in the Design community that I’m keen to collaborate with. As a practitioner, I’ve always been interested in doing great work with great people for great results. As a business owner, other demands mean you can’t always do the things you want to do.
I'm having conversations with some of these people to collectively design a model that will allow us to more easily partner, collaborate and advance our practice. This ‘design collective’ will build relationships and create new opportunities for companies that might otherwise have been competitors.
What would be your one piece of advice to students out there?
Take small risks each day and keep putting yourself 'out there'. I recently hosted a Service Design meet up in Hong Kong where over 50 people turned up. I made it my business to talk to each and every one of them and learn something about them.
The world is powered by networks and you can use them to design a better life for yourself. If you don't like your current job, reach out to someone who work in your desired field and ask to have a coffee with them.
Volunteer to help out at events and conferences, go to jams and hack-a-thons, join communities, find mentors, organise and run your own events. You don’t need to be an expert, just curious, friendly and open to the unexpected.
You can read more of this interview series below...