The ability to understand your customers’ needs, wants, and aspirations could determine whether your product launch succeeds or fails. As a business leader, you need to focus on the customer experience, says LC Singh, founder, CEO, and vice chairman of Nihilent Technologies, a global consulting company that uses a holistic and systems approach to problem-solving.

Singh will speak at the New Jersey Tech Council co-working space in New Brunswick on Thursday, June 22, in a session titled “Design Thinking Seminar for CEOs, CXOs, Strategists and Senior Leaders.” Tickets: $20, $40 for non-members. To register call 732-456-5700.

Attendees will learn to embed experience design in their companies by truly understanding their customers, bringing empathy to the organization, designing in real-time, and taking action. The seminar will introduce attendees to tools and techniques they can apply to their own business challenges.

When designing new products or services, you need to think of the future and anticipate differences between generations, says Singh. When today’s children grow up and start making purchases, their wants and expectations will be influenced by their experience with the technologies that are evolving alongside of them.

The design of most products is usually based on a company’s ideas about what they think customers want. The idea is a good start, but developing the actual product and assuming it will sell based on that idea alone is risky. To reduce vulnerability and increase the likelihood of success, Singh recommends that you involve the customer in the design process on a deep level.

In design thinking, the company starts with a hypothesis about what customers want and communicates with them to verify or modify the original idea. The team communicates with a diverse group of people, including those who are happy or unhappy with their existing products, and those who have never used the kinds of products the company makes. His team interacts with people at company locations as well as customers’ homes, and sometimes, with the customer’s permission, lives with them for a period.

When Singh founded his company in 2000, he chose the name “Nihilent” based on his professional experience and his background in philosophy. “Nihilent means ‘nothing’ in Latin,” he says. “As a new company we started from zero. We had nothing.” Since 2000 his company locations have expanded from Pune, India to include South Africa, the United Kingdom, Australia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and the U.S. Another aspect of Nihilent is that which cannot be seen. “You can’t see the technologies we use; you can only see the results of them. You can only see the manifestation, ” he explains.

The company logo, a gold-colored egg with a jagged crack through the middle of the shell, complements the company name. The crack forms a profile of a human face. “Since ‘nihilent’ is nothing, the connection between nothing and where we are now can only be an egg. Since we are in a human-controlled planet now, that is why there is a human face in the crack of the shell,” says Singh.

Singh grew up in a village near Banaras, India, one of the oldest living cities in the world. He was reared in an environment of forward thinkers. His grandfather, a freedom fighter during the time of British rule, spent a lot of time in jail. Singh’s parents valued education and informal learning; his mother was the family homemaker and his father was a school teacher.

“Banaras is a center of learning, of fine art, and spirituality, and a number of prophets have lived there,” he says. “The Buddha grew up in Banaras before his travels and quest to become awakened. After his awakening, he moved back and began his teachings.

“There are a number prophets from different sects who lived within a territory of 15 square miles from the city. They had different paths but had the same destination,” says Singh. In honor of the city, its prophets, and culture, Singh made a movie titled “Banaras, a Mystical Love Story.”

As a lifelong student of ontology and epistemology, and as one who loves the beauty and order within nature, he has integrated much of his personal knowledge and philosophy with his approach to business. “Organizations are like living organisms — in rapidly changing scenarios, they need to be constantly aware of their environment, sense opportunities and adapt quickly in order to win in the marketplace,” he wrote on his company’s website.

Singh also discusses eight values and six cost signals: Values include the worth you expect to deliver; pleasantness in dealings; feeling of empowerment from services being delivered; increased level in your equity with your customers; contributions to create healthier and safer environments, creating a better work place with higher productivity, sense of peace, and perpetual value accruals. Cost signals include monetary costs, anticipated disruption; unpleasantness in dealings, plus ethical, legal, and continuation costs.

Singh is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and the Indian Institute of Technology. He is an invited speaker at global conferences that relate to design thinking, change management, and digital disruption.

He is the author of Nihilent’s patented change management framework, MC3, and a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants of India. When not attending to his business and speaking engagements, Singh pursues his avocation in photography; his work can be seen online at lcsingh.com.

“Design thinking is a human centered approach for solving complex problems,” says Singh. “It is less about thinking and more about action.”

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