Design offers us tools we can use to prioritize, and strengthen, our relationships. If we look beyond each individual interaction, we can use design to support the connections between people, products, and brands. At Salesforce, we call this Relationship Design, a creative practice anyone can use to drive business and social value by building strong relationships with customers and community. We believe that these four key mindsets can help us build strong, valued relationships in our work and in our lives:
- Compassion: Lead with personal connection, especially in areas where process could confine us
- Courage: Push ourselves in ways that align with our values, even if they make us feel vulnerable
- Intention: Plan with purpose, keeping in mind the ripple effects of our actions
- Reciprocity: Exchange values in the service of growth and relationship longevity
The Power of Compassion
Compassion starts with an understanding of others and their perspectives. In these times, we’ve had to lean on our colleagues more than ever as we deal with space constraints, personal and family obligations, and shifting work priorities. The ordinary barriers of work culture are breaking down as we work from our homes and see into those of our colleagues. This growing understanding of who people are is leading to stronger and more personal relationships, and that’s not something that will disappear once we return to the office.
Opportunities for Trust
Change is accelerating, and there’s potential for our work to have a much bigger impact. Leaders have to entrust and empower their teams to make quick decisions, creating opportunities for trust. This has led to a flattening of the corporate hierarchy and a much more mobile workforce. It takes courage to make this level of risk-taking work — courage from leaders to entrust their teams with critical business moves, and courage from employees to challenge the status quo in service of greater impact.
Designing for a Better Healthcare System
Healthcare is, by nature, complex. Building a healthcare platform requires purposeful planning and the understanding that actions come with both foreseeable and unforeseeable ripple effects. When designing contact-tracing tools for work.com, Salesforce designers had to create an elastic system that could adapt to the needs of whatever community uses it. Setting out with a clear intention, and thinking through the intentions of your users, can help cut through some of the fog.
Reciprocity in a Connected System
Relationships thrive in an atmosphere of shared learning, mutual accountability, and openness. If there is anything these last months have shown us, it’s how interconnected we all are, and how much we must depend on one another. We wear masks when we leave our houses to protect not only ourselves, but the people around us. We’ve been forced to witness, and work to repair, the fraying social contract between individuals and our communities, employers and employees, governments and citizens — all of them mutually beneficial relationships that play a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.
New Challenges, New Mindsets
The current scenario is challenging us in ways that none of us was prepared for. It is also an opportunity for innovation and growth. To make something good from this tragedy, we need to sense and respond at speed, adapt, dare to take risks — and build it all on a foundation of trust. The new, more empowered, relationships that we develop are strengthened by compassion, courage, intention, and reciprocity. With that foundation, we can develop innovative products, services, and solutions that better understand and serve the users they are meant for.