Design as Catalyst for Retail Reinvention

We ventured down Adelaide Street to visit Jackman’s headquarters. Their office was easy-to-spot amongst a row of brick buildings thanks to their hot pink doorframe — affectionately called reinvention red by Jackmanites.

Jackman office


Jackman works with businesses around the world and engages them in a process that marries business strategy with creativity to generate momentum, and ultimately results. Collaboration is at the core of Jackman’s process. Jackman fills his company with people who not only understand business strategy; they also recognize how data shapes creative design.

Joe Jackman

Here is our abridged conversation with Jackman CEO, Joe Jackman.

Pivot: What sort of design process do you use here at Jackman Reinvention and how do you translate that into a working business?

Joe: The way we practice creativity is quite different, but if I draw back to the genesis of the inspiration for this method or methodology, it comes back to my early design training. I was trained as an industrial designer and in that field, what you’re working with — the content — is malleable. Whereas in many of the other creative disciplines, you’re presuming that it’s set.Jackman office


Usually, creatives package things up and sell them to consumers. All the work that goes into shaping what a business is, how it shows up, and what makes it different and better belonged to the world of business strategy. All of those things were being determined in a business strategy process, and in turn creative people would have to make sense of it.

Fundamentally, as an industrial designer I was trained that both the form and function are designed together and yet that was not the reality of the world.


Pivot: How do you own the term reinventionist?

Joe: We’re in the reinvention business and our job is to put a company in motion towards a clearly defined outcome that is three to five years away, and then help them realize it in a way that changes their position in the market and sometimes even the market itself. And, that is the difference between how we think of design or any other discipline we practice. It’s a game changer.

But, we need design in our business not only as a contributor, but also as a catalyst to projecting that company into the future. And that’s a different kind of design. There’s an innovation to our work that is really, really vital. At the end, if someone says, “Wow Jackman did that work and that is a much better customer experience across touch-points,” you know we’ll feel good about that.

Jackman Office

Pivot: How do you decide when a project is the right-fit?

Joe: We have to believe three things, and we filter on this basis.

  1. Case for change – One is a case for change, and not only that the case for changes exists, but that the leadership team buys into it.
  2. Courage – Secondly, the leadership is prepared to be courageous and bold on the road ahead. Businesses that are broken have an energy to them and a lot of it is negative, but there’s a lot of positive energy in businesses that are severely challenged because the thinking is “If we don’t make change, we’re screwed.”
  3. Aligning cultures – For the third filter we ask, “Do we like the folks we’re going to be working with? Do we think the cultures are going to line up? Do we think this relationship is sustainable?” We work intensely with leadership and then more broadly with the organization for many years so the reality is that we have to get along.

So if we can get those three things to align, then we can be fabulous.

Pivot: If a client asks, “How is this going to give me a return on investment (ROI)?” How do you engage in that conversation?

Joe: We’re focused on enterprise value creation. That’s how we’re measured. This means the company is worth more tomorrow than it is today. And, we want to compress the time that it takes to do that. The metrics and measurement of how value gets created are baked right into the process and how we think about the work.

We want momentum, which is a huge piece. It’s not static.

One of the ways you can accelerate the pace of change is to create momentum.

It’s not something you chip away at and suddenly there’s a big reveal and the company is something else. It unfolds in pieces. Actually, designing how those pieces unfold is part of our process. There’s both an art and a science to it and the more momentum we can build with them, the faster we can reach the destination and beyond.

If we can get communities to believe that the future’s exciting, it’s clear what we’re headed towards and that means we’re already moving towards it — building that momentum that is so integral to the process — and chances are, that the place we’re trying to build is going to happen faster. And it’s because it becomes true in people’s minds. As soon as it becomes clear and true in their minds, you can get there.

Jackman collaborates with clients, or “reinvention partners”, throughout the process. He makes strategies tangible, and strives to get clients emotionally attached about the future. If a CEO and leadership team is excited about a new strategy, they’ll fuel the rest of their company to move forward.

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