There are a couple of reasons: the first, before DesignThinkers I was a creative director at an agency of communication, advertisement and design. This was a typical design company, where you are always the last to know what your customer is up to. So you are the one that gets to put the nice ribbon on the product or to put a nice color on it and you cannot design a product or the service because it’s already done. At best you can maybe change a little, if the customer is open to it, but usually they are not.
After a while, I started thinking about what I was doing and it was quit useless. It had no real value, except maybe for the company I worked for. We had some fun because we could sell a little bit more stuff. However, I was not solving anything for anyone, we did not have time to do proper research, it only led to difficult questions for our customers. Being in such an environment, made me looking for a new thing. I wanted to be part of the process, to be part of that moment in the business process where you can still design solutions. I did not want to be part of packaging the solution, but actually be part of coming up with a solution. Asking the questions like: what do people want? Why do we do these things?
The second reason, was the fact that at the company I was working it was very difficult to change the organization. There were 20 people with skills, art directors, graphic designers and filmmakers. So they needed to have projects and my job was basically to get the projects in.
I also did not want to work in a large structure, where everything is about politics and people trying to make careers. I wanted to be in an environment where I could be free to do whatever I wanted to do and I wanted to work in an environment where I could work with people who I like and who inspire me. I was forced to work with a certain group of people, because they were employed they got a paycheck. This led me to think about a network organization of equals.
The reason I wanted to be free and work with people I really like, led to the idea of the DesignThinkers environment. What if I could create a company that I would like to work in, what exactly would that look like? That became a network organization with equals. That is something that Josephine Green talked about when she was still at Philips. She wrote a paper about it, called ‘From pyramids to Pancakes’, where the pyramid is the traditional way of an organization (few people on top, lots of people on the bottom), and a pancake is a flat organization.