Ernesto Quinteros is the Chief Design Officer of Johnson & Johnson. He will be speaking at the Techonomy NYC conference in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, May 17th.
My three-year-old daughter had just scraped her knee. I quickly reached into a welcome basket I had received from Johnson & Johnson where I found BAND-AID® Brand bandages featuring Disney/Pixar Cars. As my daughter patiently waited, tears and all, I had to hold multiple bandages up to a bright light due to the thick wrapper, to find the specific character she wanted. I realized that many moms and dads must have experienced this same frustration. After a few months on the job, I learned that helping parents to see the character through the wrapper could be easily achieved by simply flipping the packaging roll on the manufacturing line. From that point forward, complex and even simple design-led innovations had the attention of leaders across the organization.
In today’s shifting healthcare landscape, where technology is pervasive in developed economies and people have more ownership over their own health, we expect more out of our products and services. We demand experiences. In order to create meaningful and connected experiences, companies have been rethinking the role and value of design as a differentiator for their business.
Design is more than just aesthetics or packaging. At its heart, design centers its focus around people, their needs, wants and aspirations. By engaging designers at the beginning of development processes, Johnson & Johnson has been able to better examine and understand the cultural, economic, and technological context that surrounds people and impacts their decision-making, and apply it to create personalized experiences with better outcomes.
Taking this type of care-centered approach allows us to maintain empathy in our designs, transforming products into seamless, holistic experiences. And because design has been identified as a people-centered discipline, we often use it as a connector across the Johnson & Johnson enterprise – from consumer to pharmaceuticals to medical devices.
This May marks three years since I’ve officially been in my role at Johnson & Johnson, so this is an opportune time to reflect on how design is transforming our business. In 2014, Johnson & Johnson was the first company in the pharmaceutical industry to bring on an enterprise-wide Chief Design Officer. But design thinking has always been part of our DNA, and given the highest mandate.
In fact, in 1943 – just before Johnson & Johnson became a publicly traded company – Robert Wood Johnson crafted Our Credo, the guiding principles which still serve as our moral compass and the foundation for how we operate. Our Credo lays out our responsibility to the doctors, nurses, patients, mothers and fathers who use our products, to our employees, to our communities and to our shareholders. Truly a people-first company.
In order to continue that tradition, we often work with cross-functional teams to map the existing eco-system of stakeholders. User journeys and personas are created to look for new ways to reframe problems. We prototype concepts in an iterative manner, rapidly and at low cost, to make ideas tangible for our target audience, often taking their input, to incorporate ideas that make it better and fit into their everyday lives simply and seamlessly. We are also applying design thinking to our employees, to modernize our workplace by creating an environment where people can have hands-on interactions with the products and digital technologies they’re working on, to better appreciate the user experience. Part of this also requires removing barriers and streamlining complex processes to foster a truly collaborative environment that gives employees more time to focus on innovation.
From a product’s functionality to its environmental sustainability to the entire ecosystem of care, design is now the driving force behind the development of customizable solutions with the potential to alter the trajectory of human health. Although the healthcare industry traditionally has lagged behind other industries in early adoption, I hope healthcare companies continue to embrace this trend and see the value in understanding the consumer experience, and applying those learnings to create better health outcomes through design-led solutions.