ANDREI CERVANTES

HUMAN-CENTERED LEADER TYPE

IN OTHER WORLDS: DESIGN DIRECTORDESIGN CONSULTANTDESIGN STRATEGISTSTRATEGIC DESIGN LEADEXPERIENCE DIRECTORHEAD OF USER EXPERIENCEHEAD OF HUMAN-CENTRIC DESIGNCREATIVE STRATEGY LEADDESIGN THINKING LEADTRANSFORMATION DIRECTORINNOVATION DIRECTOR

Through design principles, I lead teams toward outcomes of compelling value, in a rapid and low-risk manner. Keep scrolling to find out what exactly this means.

SOME DAYS, I'M A UNIFIER

THE QUESTION

How might we cohesively transform the way sellers engage with clients?

THE DISCOVERY

Eleven siloed global teams with the same goal, working on ~100 overlapping, even contradicting work streams.

THE APPROACH

Created, rapidly iterated on and delivered a highly custom, first-of-its-kind workshop that captured each team’s human-centered objectives, outlined all supporting mechanisms, normalized mechanisms for apples-to-apples comparison, grouped mechanisms by user and intent, identified opportunities for collaboration or omission, roadmapped an actionable and unified plan.

THE OUTCOME

Eleven teams, apart but together, delivering a cohesive transformation experience to sellers all over the world. Secondarily, the success of this effort has led to repeated reuse of the aforementioned workshop, to solve complex misalignment across IBM’s global teams.

THE QUESTION

How might we get IBMers and clients up to speed on the new go-to-market messaging around automation?

THE DISCOVERY

On one hand, a go-to-market message that was unclear, largely unspoken, purely theoretical, lacked buy-in, and completely unready for adoption. On the other, a highly expansive, fractured and political automation ecosystem that reeked of systemic misalignment and a deeply divergent language, both spoken and seen.

THE APPROACH

United all relevant strategy teams around a shared goal of crafting a clear, unique and differentiating automation language that resonated with clients and compelled them to act. Worked with all 7 geo teams to understand the state of their local go-to-market messaging, the aspirations of their clients, the directional winds of their markets. Canvassed automation POVs of analysts, the competition, and leadership.

THE OUTCOME

From many and divergent to a single, unified and endorsed language that repositioned automation from a tool that merely improved tasks to a catalyst for reinvention — driving greater impact, larger scopes of work, bigger deals. Add to that an automation-tailored visual expression that helped operationalize the language. Both adopted globally via in-person bootcamps for geo champions and a microlearning digital experience for scale.

The extent to which you've got to know the automation subject matter, and our constantly-changing, matrixed organization, is truly impressive, and you've helped us join the dots between parallel programs, which has been very useful.

—Katie Sotheran, IBM Automation

THE QUESTION

Why isn’t the IBM Way sticking?

THE DISCOVERY

All six orgs tasked with reinventing the mindset and behavior of the company’s entire workforce (the IBM Way) were scattered, disjointed, siloed, contradictory and, at times, disinterested in the complexity of a united effort.

THE APPROACH

For each org, performed comprehensive research on their human-centered objectives, their compliance with the principles of the IBM Way, their work streams, the sprawling ecosystem of people required to do their work, the pains, gaps, barriers that prevented a cohesive effort.

THE OUTCOME

An empathetic and shared understanding of their wayward ways — from brand compliance and content integration to enablement methods and program integration — and how these collectively and negatively impacted the duty they were all charged with. Shared goals, shared mess. This led to an actionable and prioritized plan to resolve their misalignment and sustain their victories.

OTHER DAYS, I'M A PROBLEM SOLVER

THE QUESTION

How might we scale adoption of our automation language, across IBMers and our clients?

THE DISCOVERY

To begin with, both IBMers and clients are always way too busy for upskilling activities. They’re also asked to learn plenty throughout the year, causing training fatigue. Add to that the boring, tedious and wholly unappealing nature of traditional enablement efforts.

THE APPROACH

Considered the entire upskilling journey, beyond just ours. Understood the ups and downs of IBM’s current enablement efforts. Researched new learning methods. Established our own learning principles based on personas and needs. Employed rapid prototyping to collect user feedback and leadership POVs.

THE OUTCOME

A microlearning digital experience that accommodated users’ busy lives and battled disinterest via a variety of engaging interactions — conveying the new automation language over 10 5-minute lessons that users can fit into their day here and there, pulling a 50 NPS from +50,000 individuals.

Remember, NPS spans 200 points, from -100 to +100. 50 is considered a great score.

Awesome. A breakthrough for me. This will change the game as competitors propose RPA at most while we go in with something bigger.

—Alex Rios, IBM Mexico

THE QUESTION

How might we differentiate a large bank’s new credit card for affluent customers?

THE DISCOVERY

The bank’s other credit cards weren’t special in any way, meaning there wasn’t much to build on. Some areas, like card design and packaging, had already been determined. The bank had never before taken a human-centric approach and was also unable to involve designers.

THE APPROACH

Over 3 months, assembled a multidisciplinary team of 15 individuals from all over the bank — none of them designers. Equipped them with the skills to perform user research — understanding similar cards offered by competitors, pinpointing needs and wants of our affluent audience. Provided guidance and taught them how to prototype rapidly, gather feedback, iterate, share in an engaging story-like manner, and repeat.

THE OUTCOME

A compelling and empathetic end-to-end experience, from discovery and onboarding, to everyday use and management, to expansion, support and cancellation. Plus, 15 new human-centered advocates who have the experience and proof to now empower the bank to replicate this way of working.

You played a key role in helping us deliver a superior customer experience. I could not have been happier with what we achieved.

—Stephen Lander, Digital Strategy & Interactive

THE QUESTION

How might an oil and gas company even begin to think of a sustainability strategy, for a product perceived to counter the very idea of it?

THE DISCOVERY

A large oil and gas company, about to enter the contentious plastics industry. Being a new area for them, the client had no idea where to even begin in shaping a sustainability strategy.

THE APPROACH

Crafted and executed new human-centric Enterprise Design Thinking activities to bring absolute clarity around the problem, understand the sustainability ecosystem (who, exactly, cares?), identify specific issues to address, establish opportunities for collaboration, and map out immediate next steps.

THE OUTCOME

A clear, actionable plan to shape a more tangible, informed, human-centric sustainability strategy. Merely 1 of about 150 Enterprise Design Thinking workshops I’ve led, with a 90 NPS average.

Remember, NPS spans 200 points, from -100 to +100. 90 is considered an excellent score.

Without a doubt, I can say that you're one of the best design thinking leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with at IBM.

—Gregory Moss, Marketing Strategy

THE QUESTION

How might an online payments company truly understand the $50M procure-to-pay process it’s just purchased?

THE DISCOVERY

Somewhere along the way, the IBM and client teams lost all alignment around the $50M process that’s been bought and reinvented. Confusion and frustration everywhere. The big guns on both sides have been brought in.

THE APPROACH

Built and delivered completely custom Enterprise Design Thinking activities to — across five grueling days — frame the value of the new process within the client’s pains (both old and new), clearly align on the new end-to-end process, capture feedback, questions and new ideas, and further iterate on the process.

THE OUTCOME

Unquestioned clarity, comfort and confidence around the payment company’s new $50M procure-to-pay process. Relationships and underlying trust, restored. Green-lit delivery.

12 out of 12. Honestly, the best problem-solving experience I have ever attended.

—Bill Ward, Client Executive

OFTEN, I'M AN INNOVATOR

THE QUESTION

How might we help sellers easily navigate clients’ automation efforts toward reinvention?

THE DISCOVERY

Shifting the mindset and behavior around automation (catalyst for reinvention vs. tool for basic improvement) was always going to be a challenge. It’s one thing to get them to understand, completely another to make them comfortable with changing their ways.

THE APPROACH

Identified common scenarios along a client’s automation journey (needing help to execute an existing plan, failing in their attempt, seeking to build on small wins, looking wholly toward reinvention). Closely co-created with sellers and consultants intuitive ways to reroute clients, from each of those scenarios, toward reinvention.

THE OUTCOME

Empathetic, easy-to-understand, step-by-step toolkits to help sellers all over the world confidently, comfortably, independently, predictably guide their clients toward compelling reinvention.

THE QUESTION

How might sellers accelerate progress during a client engagement?

THE DISCOVERY

Sellers would often find themselves stuck on client engagements, at the mercy of clients’ lack of urgency, comfort, conviction, understanding, support — powerless to keep up momentum.

THE APPROACH

Identified key milestone moments along the client engagement. Empathized with all players involved during those moments. Established root causes for misalignment, paralysis, discomfort, dependency, confusion. Leveraged our deep expertise in using workshops to hasten outcomes.

THE OUTCOME

A range of packaged, outcome-specific workshops — including custom activities, tools, materials and techniques — that allows sellers to accelerate progress at key moments of a client engagement.

THE QUESTION

How might we provide consistent client engagement guidance, while offering specificity to IBM Offerings and keeping sellers responsive to their unique clients?

THE DISCOVERY

Though existing engagement models for IBM Offerings were extremely specific to the necessary outcomes, they were wildly different — meaning they were difficult to maintain and challenging to adopt for sellers moving from one Offering to the next.

THE APPROACH

Studied the most successful engagement models, extrapolated principles, identified key outcomes, rapidly prototyped a new instance, validated our work with offering managers, consultants and sellers, then further iterated.

THE OUTCOME

A modular base engagement model that allows Offering Managers to adapt for their specific Offering while following common standards, principles and cadences. Also permitting further customization for sellers, to accommodate unique client circumstances — again, while staying true to a common way of engaging and preventing any relearning as they move across Offerings.

REGULARLY, I'M A FUTURE OF WORK CATALYST

THE QUESTION

How might we shape the Future of Work for Trade Finance?

THE DISCOVERY

From document collection, digitization and validation, to processing and payment, the Trade Finance process is overwhelmingly manual, completely unpredictable, wildly inconsistent, continuously changing, and generally siloed between the many players involved.

THE APPROACH

Assembled a team of Trade Finance experts, process consultants, experience designers and technical architects. Aligned on the process as executed today. Understood the pains, gaps and opportunities within the process. Brainstormed big ideas that provoked creative thinking. Envisioned the Future of Work, as experienced across the main players. Architected the underlying drivers across process, talent, data and technology. Scoped and developed an outcome-focused MVP. Validated with experts and aligned with stakeholders at key points.

THE OUTCOME

A compelling Trade Finance Intelligent Workflow that featured cognitive data collection, verification and validation, proactive risk mitigation, transparent progress, opportunistic and pre-emptive alerts, real-time regulatory updates, business growth opportunities, among others. Expected to reduce cost per transaction by 50–75%, errors by 50%, average time to payment by 25% — then increase Trade Finance Officer productivity by 50%.

Also reimagined how work gets done within the Auto Claims, Mortgage Lending and Lead-to-cash processes — into compelling Intelligent Workflows.

Every one of these I have participated in with you has really driven valuable insights and movement.

—Ira Allen, Master Inventor

THE QUESTION

How might a large Middle East airline improve their IT operations?

THE DISCOVERY

It was the Wild West, basically. Everyone talking to everyone without organization or policing. Shadow IT everywhere. Resolution relied heavily on who you knew and, even then, was extremely slow and difficult to track.

THE APPROACH

Brought together often-conflicting IT and business groups from around the organization. Identified common and varying use cases to map the different ways work was done. Pinpointed pains, gaps and opportunities. Diverged to envision multiple Futures of Work. Converged into a single powerful vision. Roadmapped outcome-focused delivery. Outlined an action plan.

THE OUTCOME

A fully transformed operating model for the airline’s IT org — structured, easy-to-follow, transparent, efficient, governed, agile, innovative. A $27M win for IBM.

Absolutely fantastic. We are grateful to you for creating a unique experience for our clients.

—Sandeep Halli, Lead Account Partner

THE QUESTION

How might we free up the IT workforce for more meaningful work?

THE DISCOVERY

IBM was extremely motivated to build their first instance of software-based labor (called Digital Workers), testing the premise that this would liberate humans from mundane work. The strategy was to begin with IT roles.

THE APPROACH

Identified 10 IT roles to begin with (Application Developers, Application Consultants, Project Managers, among others). With flesh-and-blood representatives of each role present, assessed a pre-curated list of tasks — each accompanied by details around frequency, simplicity, standardization, repeatability and dependency. Prioritized tasks by user impact and technical feasibility. Scoped an outcome-focused MVP for each Digital Worker.

THE OUTCOME

Digital Workers for IT management, enabling a hybrid workforce that frees up humans for more meaningful work. Some reducing 1,000 hours of effort annually, these Digital Workers are now integral contributors to IBM’s Intelligent Workflows.

MORE THAN NOT, I'M A TRANSFORMATION ENABLER

THE QUESTION

How might we take large leaps in client engagement?

THE DISCOVERY

Account teams stuck in old ways that no longer matched up to client needs and expectations. Often tech-focused, tactical-only, myopic, short-sighted, uninspiring, not innovative.

THE APPROACH

Performed primary research to identify habits, patterns, themes, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Leveraging deep expertise in Enterprise Design Thinking, built an immersive three-month mentoring program, top-down, that embedded the framework’s principles into the day-to-day tasks of account teams. Seeing that other smaller account teams would follow, we piloted the program with 5 of IBM’s largest and most important accounts (called Integrated Accounts), then scaled to the other 85.

THE OUTCOME

Active application of Enterprise Design Thinking for IBM’s 90 Integrated Accounts — focusing on user outcomes, bringing in diverse empowered teams, reinventing restlessly to deliver outcomes of value in a rapid and low-risk manner. Resulted in a 76% increase in opportunities, 54% happier clients, 40% increase in deal win rate.

The curriculum you created, and the training you conducted, enabled our account teams to adopt this new way of working. Just across the first 16 opportunities impacted, this effort generated an additional $200M in wins.

—Karel Vredenburg, Transformation Lead

THE QUESTION

How might we drive adoption of Enterprise Design Thinking across Latin America?

THE DISCOVERY

Typically underserved when it comes to upskilling initiatives, IBM’s Latin American geo was predictably and painfully behind with Enterprise Design Thinking adoption in relation to the rest of the world.

THE APPROACH

Kick-started a geo-focused effort via a four-week Latin America tour, activating 250 client-facing champions across Mexico City, Guadalajara, Lima, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Built on this tour by way of periodic, first-of-its-kind weeklong summits, which catered to different roles and various levels of proficiency, as well as clients. Deepened expertise via regular remote mentoring of standouts.

THE OUTCOME

Scaled adoption of Enterprise Design Thinking across Latin America — having activated +16,000 badged Practitioners, +1,500 badged Co-creators, 35 capable and badged Coaches, across 17 local Chapters that are now some of the most active and passionate around the world.

I have much appreciation for all the wonderful work you did with all the chapters in Latin America. You enabled these teams to believe they could transform their way of working and develop behaviors they did not have.

—Ivanna Castano, IBM Bogotá

THE QUESTION

How might we activate client-side Enterprise Design Thinking Coaches in the most efficient manner?

THE DISCOVERY

The typical badged Coach generally requires 2–3 years to gain enough experience and develop enough skills, within their day-to-day environment, to qualify. No client would wait that long for an outcome. Also, no designer had taken on this challenge before.

THE APPROACH

Designed an accelerated, intense, six-month program piloted with a large health insurance company — where we identified client-side candidates that exhibited ideal qualities (open-minded, empowered, curious, committed, available); held monthly onsite bootcamps; applied Enterprise Design Thinking within context of their real-world jobs and work streams; created additional opportunities for applying principles, leading teams, mentoring other champions; provided personal mentorship over weekly calls and daily office hours; exposed them to a range of Design Thinking leaders around the world.

THE OUTCOME

A never-before-done activation program that accelerated the development of Enterprise Design Thinking Coaches for this large health insurance company — in a mere 6 months, versus the 2–3 years it typically takes. Across all 8 Coach dimensions, participants improved by an average of 6.6 points on a 10-point scale. The success of this program has earned it the distinction of an official Enterprise Design Thinking offering.

It took quite a bit of courage and energy, but I was able to help my entire team refocus their attention from a predetermined chatbot solution to first understanding user pains and putting together the right solution that addressed those pains. Extremely valuable because this impacts 40% of the 4M calls we receive each year.

—Velina Stachowiak, Coach Candidate

THE QUESTION

How might we accelerate adoption of the new automation language around the world?

THE DISCOVERY

The need is to quickly spread the new automation mindset (using it as a catalyst for reinvention vs. a tool for improving basic tasks), as well as putting in place the behaviors required to act on this mindset. Bootcamps are a proven way to spark this momentum, but IBMers already attend way too many bootcamps and enablement events throughout the year. Creating a unique and interesting experience is a must.

THE APPROACH

Homed in on the behaviors that sellers need in order to put the mindset into practice (focus on outcomes first, think big and start small, speak in stories). Crafted and delivered a hands-on, two-day experience that reinforced these behaviors. In 2020, completely virtualized it for scaled and pandemic-driven delivery.

THE OUTCOME

A proven, finely tuned, and celebrated bootcamp that averages an NPS of 65, from 400 individuals over 12 global events; impacting ~$80M in 2020 deals.

Remember, NPS spans 200 points, from -100 to +100. 65 is considered a great score.

I’ve been at IBM for 10 years, and this is THE best experience I’ve ever had.

—Malina Negru, EU Engagement

ALL THE TIME, I'M A DESIGN THINKING LEADER

THE QUESTION

How might we make Enterprise Design Thinking relevant beyond the product realm?

THE DISCOVERY

Enterprise Design Thinking was initially established to return intent and innovation to IBM’s products. Connecting the dots between the framework and the consulting and services spaces hadn’t been broached.

THE APPROACH

As part of the core team that was tasked with bridging the gap, we repeatedly tested, in front of clients, how the framework was positioned, articulated, learned and applied. Surfaced plenty of its shortcomings — everything from perceived irrelevancy and gooeyness to the framework’s inward focus and design snobbiness. Reinvented and, until this day, continuously iterating on how the framework is carefully explained to those outside the product world.

THE OUTCOME

A framework that now features much-needed clarity, approachability, relevance, resonance, flexibility and applicability. And one that practices what it preaches, focusing more on the people using it rather than inwardly on itself — helping everyone more easily understand and re-articulate the value of applying Enterprise Design Thinking. Basically, a more natural connecting of the dots for everyone.

This is the most useful explanation I've heard. It's helpful to hear from people who actually live and teach the Enterprise Design Thinking framework and do real client work with it.

—Anonymous

THE QUESTION

How might we make it easier for nondesigners and beginners to actively apply Enterprise Design Thinking?

THE DISCOVERY

After experiencing the framework for the first time, most nondesigners and beginners become infatuated with it — but then don’t go any further.

THE APPROACH

Uncovered that nondesigners and beginners find it challenging to begin experimenting with the framework because of hesitancy, miscomprehension, discomfort, confusion, intimidation or skepticism. Rapidly prototyped, tested and iterated on a way to proactively battle these concerns.

THE OUTCOME

A formulaic, packaged set of exercises and techniques to help even the least experienced practitioners confidently “Enter the Loop” of Enterprise Design Thinking. To translate challenges and tasks into something the framework can immediately be applied to. No matter what’s being worked on and how far it’s progressed. Enabling all to simply jump in and apply the framework without reservation.

This offers an excellent approach for moving from concept to taking tactical steps in applying the concept day-to-day. Very well done! Very useful!

—Anonymous

THE QUESTION

How might we best articulate the integration of Design Thinking, Agile and DevOps?

THE DISCOVERY

All three practices are ways of working. But IBMers were confused with which to use where, when and how — especially since they each shared overlapping principles. For some, this lack of understanding and perceived redundancy stood in the way of adopting the human-centered ways of Design Thinking.

THE APPROACH

Interviewed both folks who were confused about the integration and folks who had complete clarity, in addition to respected experts from all three practices. Prototyped and iterated on not only how the three practices worked together, but also how to easily explain this integration to those most confused.

THE OUTCOME

A now widely used POV on how Enterprise Design Thinking, Agile and DevOps come together to drive the most compelling outcomes. Specifically, the role and intent of each, how they work together, an action plan template to operationalize all three, and a simple, colloquial way to re-articulate the integration to others:
 
Enterprise Design Thinking helps us figure out what to do, Agile helps us realize how to do it, DevOps provides the latest feedback to help us adjust what we do and rapidly implement what we achieve.

GENERALLY, I'M A NOMAD

I often lead — and welcome with open arms — complicated global challenges. My default nomadic way of life, spending half my year in the US and the other abroad, uniquely equips me to take on the travel demands and lengthy remote spells usually required.

A BIT MORE ABOUT ME

MY CURRENT POST

Global Design Strategist
and Enterprise Design Thinking Leader
IBM
2016–Present

MY PAST LIVES

Creative Director
Multiple Advertising Agencies
2012–2016

Copywriter
Multiple Advertising Agencies
2005–2012

MY CLIENT PARTNERS

Etihad Airways
Southwest Airlines
Telstra
AT&T
Verizon
Shell Global
PayPal
PNC Bank
TD Bank
Bancolombia
Raymond James
Wells Fargo
Aetna
Dell
AMD
The Kraft Heinz Company
La Quinta
Wawa
H-E-B
Pizza Hut
2K Games
Best Buy
Among others