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The article cites his reasons to take a job at a start-up product company as opposed to starting another design consultancy.
His foremost point is that the industry has shifted. We would agree. There is a fundamental shift in the idea that design thinking and innovation thinking are now core to the success of a business (and that thinking is not limited to start-ups). What used to be an initial brand and experience layer, threads down into a business so deeply that these organizations need business-focused design thinking all the time.
The thing that is not discussed here is that businesses have two kinds of people: innovators and operators. Innovators are there to invent new things and imagine the possibilities, where operators are there to make businesses more efficient.
The problem that Khoi will run into a few years from now is that he will get bored. The innovation thinking of the start up will turn into spreadsheet level optimization—and the hay-day of infinite possibilities will narrow to polishing a button. When that happens, he will move on to the next start-up or the next project or maybe the next venture accelerator.
The reason a venture accelerator is different from the traditional agency model is that it marries the idea of a consulting team (best practices and models that work) with an entrenched team (close knit, trusting and iterative)—and in doing so, it builds a practice of repeatable success. It removes the barriers and walls that separate agencies and clients and throws everyone into a pot to collaborate and innovate together.
In this world the creative thinkers and innovators continue to build on their successes inside of a single entity, creating trust and modeling efficiencies into the innovation practice itself. It allows for operators to make timely transitions into critical roles optimizing the existing business assets, while innovators drop back to a support role or move on to the next innovations.
The other advantage of the venture accelerator model is that the innovation team, with a portfolio of managed businesses, can apply innovation across these business as they are discovered and found to be an appropriate fit.
The approach challenges the fundamental approach to traditional “client service” where the creator and business lived and operated in separate places with little to no direct interaction until “the big presentation.” The new approach to design thinking brings innovators and businesses together inside of a single team to collaborate and innovate together. This new model isn’t necessarily (or doesn’t have to be) about abandoning creative inspiration, ideals, or anything else – often, the best service we can provide to a client is to disagree with them.
For organizations who embrace this new model, in the short term they get an expert result, but in the long term they get continued attention from the innovators in a time when they otherwise would have lost interest.
And with the above, the client serves business is not ending, it is changing and moving towards a completely different practice model.