The cash cow is dead. Welcome to Bèta-world.

Jules Prick
Written by
Jules Prick
Nov 03, 2020 . 7 mins read
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One of my favourite slides is saying “The world changes faster than ever”. My colleagues are making fun of me because it is so cliché. However, I like to counter their criticism with the fact that while I am using this slide for over 10 years, it is becoming more relevant every day.

And it is true. We are taking unprecedented leaps. Year after year. And while some organisations view it as an opportunity, most have difficulties to keep up.

Adaptability to change

Let me start by quoting Darwin; whether you are an organisation or a species, it doesn’t matter if you are the biggest, the smartest or the richest. Key is your ability to adapt.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

And this is what design brings to organisations; adaptability. And secondly, the ability to take aim. In other words, to focus on delivering value. And therefore securing a vital spot in our circle of life; the value chain of our economy.

”Design empowers organisations to become more adaptable to change and to focus on delivering the right value”

Managing different innovation cultures

There are two distinct types of innovation, that each need a different kind of  innovation culture; the vast incremental culture and secondly, the small more radical culture.

Where incremental is about increased performance of the running business, the radical is tasked with exploring and developing the business of the future instead.

“You need both the oil tanker to earn the big bucks and the agile pilot ship to discover new directions.”

The paradigm shift of keeping up with reality

Most traditional organisations are mostly concerned with incremental innovation. But it is not surprising that this old model is experiencing massive disturbances. Innovation used to revolve around new product launches, every two years or so. While we now see new challengers launching features on a monthly, even weekly basis…

For instance, it would be unthinkable for Spotify to launch a completely new app every two years (while that is how they started initially).

Even Tesla updates its (already sold!) cars on a regular basis. And while we’re just talking about the software it is a massive step forward in the traditional product-launch-focused automotive market. In other words, products and services simply age a lot faster than before and require constant updating.

Concluding – the traditional cash cow is dead. And therefore we need to adopt a more continuous and iterative innovation system to keep up.

”Once upon a time, designers were running obscure innovation projects, hidden in the basement of large corporations, such as Philips. Today design has become the new way of working throughout the whole organisation. Above all, on a daily basis.”

Welcome to Bèta-world

We can conclude that design is becoming a primary working process. For instance, we see designers popping up everywhere, merging with other disciplines within the organisations.

It is not a surprise that today’s leading companies are continuously designing, testing and improving their customer experience relentlessly. Therefore it almost feels like they are in a continuous bèta test mode.

Looking around, we see design being adopted for a variety of business objectives. 

  • Some of our clients, like traditional banks, use design to arm themselves against the rise of big tech competitors, seeking ways to maintain their customer base.
  • Others, like OLX, use design to de-risk and maximise their innovation effort. By using design they can simply shorten innovation cycles, take evidence based decisions and invest accordingly.
  • We see corporate clients using design to increase Employee Experience, trying to keep and attract talent and smooth the shift towards an adaptable organisation.
  • For service providers, unable to win on technology nor price, customer centricity proves a powerful differentiator to beat the competition on value delivery through customer experience.
  • Challengers, such as Tesla, Swapfiets, Uber are using design to leap ahead and reshape our world.


Overall, we see one unifying dimension; evolution. The struggle to secure a vital role in our life. And while many organisations are struggling to keep up, some are leading the change.

The balancing act between adaptability and value delivery.

While evolving is the main goal, we need to balance our resources between ‘adaptability’ and ‘value delivery’. The big question is where to put your money?!

Adaptability – the long term performance strategy

Becoming more adaptable is like joining the organisational gym. Similarly, it is hard work to create the right mindset, embed new skills and transform the internal processes and operation (e.g. agile teams, customer-centric KPIs). In short, it takes a long time to get fit without immediate ROI but it is extremely important in the long run.

Value delivery – the short term revenue booster

On the other hand we can launch new propositions and improve customer experience. Consequently adding instant value that boosts revenue and puts us higher up in the food chain. The quick and easy way would be to simply acquire fancy start-ups or hiring an agency to do the hard work for you. But as soon as the project ends (and the agency leaves) progress stops….

Instead, you can allocate budget to get the work done internally, but if the internal organisation is not fit enough to execute – it’s a waste of money.

“The key lies in getting your organisation fit and adaptable while maintaining value delivery at the same time.”

Ok… and now what?

One thing is sure; design is a decisive driver in the success of organisations and we’ve seen many different reasons to apply and embed it.

As an organisation it is important to understand your own capabilities and challenges and have a clear business strategy, utilising the value of design in the short and in the long run.

Want to read more on how to embed design in your organisation?

—> read about our service design maturity model

Want to visit Bèta-world? Get in touch!

Jules Prick
Written by
Jules Prick
Nov 03, 2020 . 7 mins read
Share this article