Bhav Chohan

6 min read

Inside design leadership

Paula Becchetti

Content Specialist

Not only is Bhav Chohan our intive’s vice president, but he’s also our Digital Products & Service Design leader. In an increasingly complex world, we wanted to know about this Londoner and his vision.

A fantastic growth journey

As you might already know, intive is on a growth journey. In Q1 this year, we took a major step by getting our house in order towards achieving operational excellence (mindset, practice, and approach), also across our core Design teams in Europe. In tandem, activating the unit strategy across 4 key dimensions: Financial performance, Customer, and brand, Design capability & Ops, Team, Culture, and environment.

We are now pivoting from our unique blend of Product Design and Consulting foundations to a more malleable application of strategy and craft skills fit for the rapidly shifting business, technology, and consumer demand. This alone will keep us busy throughout 2018 building a platform between enhancing our core competencies in Design to newer and emerging areas of practice such as Business Design, HMI, AI and Generative design, Natural interfaces, Phygital, Connected systems/networks and beyond.

Our chat with Bhav Chohan

BC: Even as far back as my School days, I’d always had a natural tendency and strength towards creative and science-based subjects. I could sketch for hours and got pretty good at it, so much so it became an escape as well as a mini enterprise of sorts, trading sketches for sweets, Mix tapes and even cash with classmates.

Fast forward a few years, plus a university and career investment in the field, Design had enabled me to apply many tools, methods and frameworks in tackling meaty real-world problems and bringing ideas to a tangible physical form. A freedom to imagine and a rigour and skill to solve and build.

– What is a great strategy when it comes to design? What defines it?

BC: In its simplest form, strategy It’s about questioning “why” before defining “what” and then “how to” achieve it. Design without strategy or rationale is closer to an art, therefore an expression of one’s mind without defined utility. This doesn’t mean art has no purpose, it’s a vehicle for questioning the world and communicating emotion and ideas.

Design is inextricably linked to strategy and arguably a strategic problem-solving tool for organizations when harnessed to simplify and humanize complexity. It helps to frame a world of ambiguity and endless possibilities into a defined context, a problem to solve, purpose to achieve and measures of success. It can act as a powerful bridge between shaping vision, mitigating risk and executing tactics.

– What is the role of Design in our business?

BC: Traditionally, Design at intive has played a smaller role compared to its larger revenue generating brother – Technology. It’s quite the pattern across many Technology players. Currently, we’re starting out, at a ratio of 20:1 (engineers to designers) with over 70+ folks (UX + interaction designers, Business analysts, Product managers & Agile consultants) but over time this will refactor as we grow the business and develop in new markets. It’s essential for Technology to be truly usable, engaging and differentiated, but conversely solutions to fit real-world problems powered by tech. Design unlocks this potential to do so.

The complexity of today requires more balanced consultative approaches to driving new to the world solutions, one that commands creativity and science together. By featuring our multidisciplinary teams (design + tech) upstream with our account and client teams, our sales interactions also shift to reframe more interesting and rewarding challenges to solve. Those that are beyond the subject of UX, but encompass the role of Design + Technology as a catalyst and enabler in Customer Experience, Business model innovation, Digital Products & Services, Org. Transformation, Platforms/ecosystems extension, Capability development… To name a few.

Below you can find some client cases that have challenged us to leverage digital transformation for people’s benefit.

  • Vorwerk: giving people without skill or time an opportunity to cook healthy food for them and their family.

  • AUDI: driver assistance systems to diminish the risk of accidents.

  • Project Nahual: teaching disadvantaged people QA testing skills to actively take part in the digital transformation.

-What is the future of design?

BC: Two key skills that the recent obsessions with speed to the solution shouldn’t dilute – 1. Synthesis and 2. Extrapolation. Solving problems that matter and working on problems worth solving. Abductive logic, the logic of hypothesis or what might be, or sense-making – where things emerge from unseeingly separate connections. Staying relevant means for design to stay close to the edge of changes in humanity as much as technology. Maintaining space to imagine and approach problems in new ways is sacred, and today you need that more than ever.

– Who should we read or follow?

BC: The people who challenge how we think about the impact of technology in the future and the world in which we live (i’m thinking Charlie Brooker – Black Mirror). The Dan Pink’s, Simon Sinek’s, Jon Kolko, Malcolm Gladwell of this world, WIRED magazine the intersectional curators  – this is perhaps more of what catches my attention today.

If you are looking to dip into anything recent off my shelf, Joe Macleod’s (Formerly of Digital studio – UsTwo) thought-provoking book – Endings, is worth exploring. As an ex-Industrial Designer, it really connects with me on the concept of lifecycle impact – but not just in the physical realm but beyond. Joe raises insightful points about the unsustainable way most companies approach the design of products and services and the long-term effects of such short-term decisions.

As complexity increased with how people, brands and companies understand the role of information, experience and channels in this techsoup. Designs role has shifted to encompass more holistic factors influencing e.g. strategy, organizations, services, humanity.  For me this, this is where its most exciting and influential for our profession – the intersection of society, technology and business. It’s no longer enough to add to the sea of more stuff, it’s about the choreography of value.

We’re extremely lucky in our profession, as our skills and work can affect the masses and has the potential to deliver far-reaching impact. As a designer, it has become increasingly crucial today to be more systems and network-oriented in your thinking and approach to digital.

The future ahead

Bhav told us the role of design (as we can sense) is already reaching newer fields and evolving into a broader complexity and influence. He named some: public services, policy building and societal challenges.“As technology shapes new frontiers, designers need to continue the role of sense-makers, pattern finders and value miners. Not only building the discreet solutions but the world in which they fit into.”

Challenge everything!

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