Combining the old with the new

Read more about: Innovation | Digital

Did you know design isn’t new to the business world? In 1956, Thomas Watson Jr. said, “good design is good business.” That quote was about industrial design – the design of physical products you can touch or pick up. It referenced new sources of value and delight for consumers: products from companies like IBM, Herman Miller, and GE.

Today, this quote is still relevant; in fact, there are more opportunities than ever for designers to help develop new products because now, products are digital, mobile, and physical.

As a designer at McKinsey I take the creative, inclusive, and human–centred approach to product development to boardrooms to help organisations use data to develop their next big thing. Design thinking is a problem–solving approach that’s quite complementary to McKinsey’s traditional approach. The difference is a shift in focus from what’s best for the company or organization to what’s best for the end user. When we bring these methodologies together, we can solve problems in new, different, better ways. It’s incredible.


Only at McKinsey

I’ve worked on many top–tier design teams in Germany, Italy, Turkey and more, but my teams at McKinsey are the best. Here we work in teams of designers, business consultants and industry experts. This makes all the difference, especially in Healthcare where I do most of my work.

Also, the scope of the problems we tackle is vastly different from what I’ve addressed elsewhere. At agencies, I worked on specific products or business units. At McKinsey, I’m working on CEO–level issues that are massive in scope and impact. This means that we are not only desiging innovative solutions for complex problems, but help organizations to make this approach become part of their culture.

For example, I worked on one engagement with pharma companies in which we employed design problem solving to support researchers in discovering new drugs, but also to employ methods of “working like designers” themselves with changes the way they tackle problems and collaborate.

The best part

One of the best things about McKinsey is that the learning never stops. There are formal opportunities: in just two years, I have attended local and global sessions with best–in–class training and networking across the firm. I also learn from my colleagues and clients every day. I explain design thinking to colleagues who are new to it, and learn about other disciplines like business, engineering, agility and more. As someone who has lived and worked in many countries, I greatly value the ability to work on truly global teams, where people bring their individual perspectives and experiences to the table.

My biggest area of interest is the intersection of business and design – how design can unlock new sources of value through user engagement, and how business can help steer design efforts toward critical priorities. I’ve started to work with McKinsey colleagues on articles on this subject, and will continue to do so. Now we realize it’s not about a design or a strategy – it’s about both coming together to delight real users.

Find roles like Julian’s

Never miss another post

Receive new stories once a week directly in your inbox