Self service check out at Albert Heijn supermarket

On shopping, innovation and design thinking

I am not a fan of grocery shopping. It’ s a weekly occurrence where you take a cart, load it up with groceries and then stress out waiting for checkout, because all the other lines are moving so much faster. By the time you get home, all groceries  have gone through your hands 4 times: set them in your cart, transfer them to the  belt, bag them and put them away.

Supermarkets are working very hard to improve this experience – and they’ve made good progress. Now, when I go shopping I get a barcode scanner, scan my groceries, put them in my bag right away and pay at one of the many checkout points. No more waiting in line, and by the time I put my groceries away, that’s the second time I  touch them. By reinventing the process and through optimal use of the latest technologies, supermarkets have greatly improved my user experience. And as next innovation I can use my iPhone as scanner, and scan groceries straight from my list.

The July/August issue of Harvard Business Review was titled: How to Blow Up HR – and make it into something better. If you’ve not read it, be sure to pick up a copy. When I started thinking about blowing up HR, I realized the supermarket story is an excellent example of how to transform an existing process into something so much better – by rigorously focusing on the user experience.

Design thinking is a methodology that starts with Empathy – you have to have a deep understanding of your client or your user in order to innovate your services and products. You focus on resolving their issues instead of yours – a fundamental difference when you compare it to past HR Transformation projects.

This excerpt from my Innovation Talk (English CC) will explain more about Blowing Up HR while using design thinking – hope you enjoy this food for thought!