Design Thinking at Royal Enfield

DR. PAVAN SONI
3 min readOct 14, 2022

Last month, I had an opportunity to engage with the leadership team of Royal Enfield and Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicle during the Leadership Development Program at ISB Hyderabad. This was after a gap of two years that I visited the sprawling campus of ISB and it was a refreshing experience. This was a spirited team, rearing to top up their already commendable performance. Here’s a quick summary of the day.

We started with crafting a compelling Design Brief. It’s a short summary of the intent or the rally cry for the team. Remember, innovation or creativity doesn’t start with an idea or a problem, but rather with an inspiration (or sometimes, a desperation). The briefs were:

  1. To deliver a grounds up customized bike within 3 hours without adversely impacting margins
  2. Develop a motorcycle in one year (as against 3–5 years) without compromising on safety, reliability, and desirability
  3. No workshop visit for commercial vehicles for the first three years, without increasing the total cost of ownership for the customer
  4. To be a 100% online retailer in the space of commercial vehicles

As you can see, all the design briefs are specific, aspirational and yet vague enough to excite different possibilities.

The team then went about the stage of Empathizing and Defining by adopting models of Problem Exploration, Stakeholder Map and Customer Journey Map.

Models for Empathizing and Defining the problems

The next step is to go about Ideation, keeping these broad guidelines: 1) individuals write down their ideas on sticky notes, 2) each is given a target of generating 20 unique and relevant ideas in 20 min., and 3) later the group engages on building on and blending ideas to create yet more powerful ones.

Solo ideation, followed by group ideation

The result was a pool of 450 idea in a matter of 30 min, without anyone breaking a sweat. That’s what systematic ideation can achieve, provided each gets a chance of think separately.

The ideas are then categorized and later prototypes are built around the most compelling themes.

Idea clustering and rapid prototyping

Finally, each team gets about 3–4 min to offer a brief on their most compelling ideas and solicit feedback. The whole bit of prototyping and demonstrating ideas offer the team a much needed clarity and detailing to the concepts. Can’t share the pitches here owing to confidentiality reasons. However, below are the key takeaways of the participants.

I week later, I got a chance to visit Royal Enfield’s head office in Chennai. A brilliant setup and passionate folks. Sharing a snap from their concept lounge.

At Royal Enfield concept lounge in Chennai

I hope this was a useful writeup. Do share your reflections.

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DR. PAVAN SONI

Innovation Evangelist and author of the book, Design Your Thinking.