Sticking to our job description and focusing on fulfilling it to perfection can mean that we sacrifice our long-term career potential. Don’t put your job ahead of what you want, ahead of your strengths or ahead of what you believe is right.

The ability to see the wood from the trees is a skill that comes with time in the workforce. Often when we first start working we simply want to prove ourselves in our role and strive for excellence. As time goes on however, we need to examine the countereffect this could have on our own sense of fulfilment and career progression.

Everyone has something to contribute to their workplace and everyone can affect change no matter what your job title is. Unfortunately, the way most organisations are structured means that only a few people are given formal opportunities to effect strategic plans and offer innovative ideas.

Developing human centered strategies is not only of benefit to our customer but there is this very positive by product. The human centered approach thrives off cross functional teams, diversity in thought and benefiting from the ideas of many rather than the ideas of a few within an organisation. It empowers those involved giving them a voice and a platform for their ideas to be heard.

So why not go a step further and take the theories of human centered strategic design and adapt these to our own personal development.

Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t on all of our agendas and it certainly shouldn’t be our primary motivation. Yet, we all want to be content in our roles and belong amongst the environment we work in. To really amplify our sense of achievement and belonging this can mean challenging ourselves to do things out of our comfort zone.

Let’s look at some methods that you can start with.

Look at the bigger picture.

If you’re not involved in board meetings or executive team meetings don’t let this stop you. Have a conversation with the CEO when they’re grabbing a cuppa in the staff room or ask for 5 minutes of their time, so they can share the organisations goals with you and where they see the big opportunities for change. Talk to your manager and ask them what their priorities are and how they want to improve the organisation. Having these conversations isn’t limited to a title. It’s guaranteed to give you new insights to what’s happening around you and it may help you improve efficiencies in your own role. Improve your understanding by knowing how what you do every day affects others in their roles.

Create alliances and strong relationships.

If you’ve done the first step guess what? You’ve already given yourself a head start. Having one on one’s and multiple conversations will help you get to know what’s important to other people and how you can help them. As a result, you’ll become a trusted colleague. If we look at the structure of ‘human centered strategic design’ you would hold a workshop involving a cross functional team from various departments in your business to work towards a solution. What’s stopping you from emulating this and having one on one brainstorming discussions. At the very least you’ll be the most proactive team member they’ve ever seen!

Present new ideas.

Having many conversations with colleagues and managers is going to give you some new ideas. Make sure you communicate these and share these. Bounce ideas off people and gain their insight. Prepare yourself though. You may be way off the mark but as Winston Churchill stated, “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”. At the very least you’ll have a better understanding of the challenges that exist, and each idea will get you closer to a winner.


So, you’ve done all the above and you’re feeling good. You’ve received positive feedback from your colleagues and you are respected by your managers. What’s next? If you really want to continue furthering your knowledge this step is the scariest yet most rewarding. Ask yourself a couple of quick questions.

  1. Who is your organsiation trying to serve?
  2. How could you as an individual get to understand them better?

To get any true understanding of customers or clients you will need to get out from behind a desk. The narrow focus of most job descriptions will mean that this is likely to be out of the scope of your role but now that you have the organisation behind you, talk to people about what you have in mind, what your objective is and how you think this could help the organisation.

Lastly, be brave ….

These steps can be daunting but take one small action at a time and build up it. You’ll find your confidence grows over time so try to tackle each day with something small that is outside your comfort zone.

“The road to success is still under construction” so disregard your title and give yourself the opportunity to find out what gives you personal satisfaction.

Actress Lily Tomlin

We’ve talked a lot about looking at the bigger picture for your organsiation but the most important thing to keep in mind through these processes is to look at the bigger picture and long term plan for yourself. By taking these steps and challenging yourself you will get a better understanding of your workplace and you will uncover some strengths you never knew you had.

Think about what personally interests you and drives you. Knowing this can help you develop your career and help you examine how to gain personal satisfaction from what you do day in day out.

I get it. The whole idea of a team building day is to get people to collaborates, bond and improve the way they communicate. From my experience these days can be great fun and let’s face it if there is a sun downer or night stay involved then chances are there’s going to be some stories about someone’s dance floor moves and a few sore heads. The banter in the office improves for the next few weeks and then what?

Is there any actual improvement to the culture? If there is my argument is that it isn’t a sustainable one. Sure celebrating success and celebrating learning is a need for any business but if you want sustainable cultural change there needs to be more.

1. Find Purpose

Help employees uncover why they come to work each day. How does what they do for 8 hours of each day contribute to the bigger picture? How does it drive their why?  

Employees with a sense of purpose are going to be more engaged and more willing to go the extra mile when they hit challenges at work.

2. No Customer Focus?

Corporate days can simply cement the ranked importance of the internally focused culture. Instead why not give employees a real sense of what they contribute to and the value they provide to your consumers or clients. Understanding our customers can be one of the most challenging things to do in business and when teams become silo-ed and insular never connecting with a customer then this understanding can be completely lost.

3. Real Common Goals

Sharing a common goal with others in our day to day role can help us be more willing to listen to others, take on feedback and offer new points of view. It’s all for the greater good.

4. Sustainable Collaboration

At the end of the day the collaboration that a team day can bring can add to strengthening bonds but what happens a few month down the track are we still reliving the mud challenge or how we tackled the puzzle in stage 3. No. Collaboration and team support shouldn’t be left to a team day. It should be part of each and every work day. How else do we achieve great heights, and no not literally but figuratively.

How UberEats continue to innovate with Design Thinking.

In 2014 infamous ride share company Uber launched into the food delivery industry. The online food ordering and delivery platform UberEats was born and it brought the late night lamb sandwich into question. Now there was a better option that met a need that crossed demographics and geographies. Based in San Francisco UberEats now delivers from restaurants in over 80 cities around the world making in to Perth in 2016.

Why are we talking about food delivery? Well there’s many success stories out there about innovative companies causing disruption. Each one has something we can learn from. What may seem to be overnight success stories are instead ideas that have been formed, research and tested over years. In this Innovation Series by Liv By Design we want to explore what are some of the simple methods that have been used so that we can adapt some learnings and create our own success stories. 

UberEats hits Perth

Here’s some fun facts that were published by WA Today following the arrival of UberEats to Perth and gives a sneak peak of the impact it had.

  • Hungriest time of the week in Perth is on Fridays at 6pm (No suprise there really!)
  • The first ever UberEATS order in Perth was a cheeseburger royale and steak cut chips ­from Jus Burgers in Leederville
  • The total distance travelled by the top delivery partner was 5,440 trips = 13,725 km. That’s Perth to Melbourne and back, twice!
  • The most ordered Indian dish in Perth is butter chicken ­- enough to fill 8.3 swimming pools.

Better results through real market research

Shall we call it Market Realsearch?  

Realising that they can’t possibly understand the intricacies and infrastructure of every city from their offices in San Fransciso they created The Walkabout Program“. We’ll talk about this is more detail but this is what is termed immersion in design thinking

“Every quarter, designers visit an UberEATS city and dive deeply into that market. They learn the city’s food culture. They study the transportation and logistical infrastructures. They interview delivery partners, restaurant workers, and consumers. They eat and eat and eat. Upon return, they share their learnings with the entire team. Each visit helps build a comprehensive understanding of our different markets and customers.” 

They also “Overshadow” another form of immersion where they follow the live deliveries as well as sit in peoples homes to when they are ordering their meal. “Watching our products in the wild helps us better understand the needs of our customers, how well our designs address those needs, and what challenges exist in the real world”.  

The power of a testimonial!

UberEats also actively seek out feedback from delivery partners, restaurants and consumers to try and fill any gaps that might come from the above initiatives. This then gives them powerful insights to dissect and discuss new opportunities. 

This is done via Innovation workshops.  

When they need to develop ideas they form a cross functional team to “generate insights and inspiration, then run creative exercises to generate a range of ideas. These structured brainstorms shake up the mindset of the team, push our creativity, and spawn innovative ideas like pooled deliveries and ‘virtual’ restaurants only available on UberEats.” 

“If you’re trying to design for the future, don’t design for behaviors that are happening now. Design for behaviors that are emerging, that are going to be new behaviors.” 

Lynda Deakin, Managing Director of IDEO’s Design for Food studio 


Why didn’t UberEats just get the insights from big data and deep dive research, surveys and mass market campaigns? None of these methods allow for the insights that are gained from more intimate personal research and if we are talking about true disruption then you won’t have any like products to compare to and certainly no past trends to predict from. 

If we are talking about emerging behaviours then its highly likely that if you’re waiting on industry stats and data to guide your way… then you’re too late. 

UberEats has made innovation and design thinking methods part of their DNA like many other success stories. They realise the power in remaining close to and having empathy for all the parties they serve. From the in-home diner, to the delivery partner to the restaurateur.  

Before you spend thousands on qualitative and quantitative surveys, reports and industry data how about considering a new method. Consider how you or your team can truly gain exposure through immersion in your market or look at external support who can guide you on how to do this and even provide a new point of view to old problems.  

This article is by Olivia O’Connor, Founder of Liv By Design a business solutions company. Liv By Design is dedicated to helping business owners grow their business and start strategically planning their initiatives by harnessing the creativity of their workforce through facilitated workshops.

We also help organisations gather true research of their clients by offering consultancy services in immersion techniques to gather insight that could transform your organsiation.  

Key-Person Dependency is the term used when a business is heavily reliant on the knowledge, relationships or skills of an individual or a very small number of people. (Often the business owner or owners). Typically, this is found in SME’s, however, it can be found in organisations of all sizes.

Let’s put this in straight forward terms. Are you a business owner or manager? If something happened to you tomorrow (god forbid) and you couldn’t work would the business survive?

The loss of an owner or key operator can be a real blow to a business.

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to key person risk as they often take on all the business functions or maintain control of all the business functions. These can include all aspects of sales, marketing, operations, HR, accounts and the list goes on.

There comes a time when the risk of burn out becomes very real.

But before we get to some helpful hints let’s look at the importance of small business to the community.

Over 97% of Australian businesses are small businesses. That is they have between 0-19 employees. It’s a large and vibrant sector which is vital to the health of the Australian economy. Small business accounts for 33 per cent of Australia’s GDP and they employ over 40 per cent of Australia’s workforce.

Now to bring this a bit closer to home to WA the State Government reports that there are 224,270 small business who contributed $48 billion to the WA economy. 491,993 people are employed by small business in WA and 41% of the private sector workforce is employed by small business.

So as a collective we’re looking at a sector which is the heartbeat to business but they’re in a high risk situation where their business is dependent on them. Not only that, as individuals they’re left feeling as though everything is up to them. When you’re in this situation somethings got to give and their personal lives often suffer.

So how can business owners start working on their business (being more strategic) rather than working in their business?

What we’re about to suggest here is embarking on the beginnings of succession planning so that small businesses can grow and then sustain that growth, without them. They need to move from being the technician to instead and trying to do everything to overseeing the business.


Yep, it’s a simple one but we’re not talking about drinks and an early finish on a Friday. We’re talking about working together and using team cohesion to deliver the best services or products possible to your clients. Nothing brings people together like a common goal. Your strategic goals for the business should be shared with the team so they understand where the business needs to go and what role they need to play in that.


Once your staff understand where the business is going and what their part is you can then ask them to start thinking about how they can deliver on the goals. Why ask them? Isn’t it quicker to do it yourself and just tell them? In short no. By handing down a strategy with what they ‘need to do be doing’ we liken it to giving a kid a map of an amusement park and telling them they need to follow it and not get distracted on the way. It’s hardly engaging or fun. Instead get them to give you the answers. Let them think about what they want to achieve and how they plan to get there. Listen to their ideas. Let them have a few wild rides and trial some things. If it doesn’t work then move on to the next trial. Before you know it you’ll find new ideas spreading. You’ll find engagement at an all-time high and you’ll have staff that aren’t dragging themselves to work to follow a manual.

Encourage open communication

We heard that mumble under your breath. “What I just let the staff run wild and do what they want and try new things? They could ruin me!” Okay not exactly. This is within reason and within resources available. By encouraging open communication if one of your team come up with something that may never work hear them out give them the opportunity to talk through it and if you have an environment of open communication you will find that someone will critique the idea and bring them back to reality. In amongst that wild idea you may have an element that could be simplified or adapted to work.

Automate your process

Yep, we just got boring. By automating processes, it not only saves you time but it also ensures that more people can be capable and easily trained to complete day-to-day tasks.

This is where big business excels. Large organisations are twice as likely to innovate in the area of operational processes as small business’. (Reported by the Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Commonwealth Government.)

Capture your customer data

If you got great sales and business development personnel ensure the details of your clients don’t leave with them. You should own and control all your client records.

Business owners need to invest in their future and the future of their business by empowering their staff and setting up processes that help people move towards one common goal. This will allow their staff to feel like they are contributing. They’ll feel more included and confident and they will be more likely to go the extra mile. They’ll be happier at work and in effect happier people in general.

Here’s the mic drop. You’ll not only be responsible for uplifting your team but you’ll also free yourself from the treadmill of business problems and tasks and instead rise above this and start looking ahead into the possibilities of the future of your business and for yourself.

This article is by Olivia O’Connor, Founder of Liv By Design a creative business solutions company. Liv By Design is dedicated to helping business owners grow their business and start strategically planning their initiatives.
Through facilitated workshops Liv By Design harnesses the creativity of your workforce to achieve effective innovative results.