Majid Iqbal

I study failures; why I'm able to design. How could I if didn't understand why things fail and how? Failures reveal structures and behaviors.

I develop design that gives organizations the opportunity to implement policy or strategy without compromise.

I’ve specialized in design of services and have developed original thinking on why services fail and therefore how they can succeed, in delivering on their promise.

I’ve applied this thinking within the problem spaces and portfolios of major government agencies and large commercial enterprises, most notably the Dutch government. They paid for new knowledge and insight on how best to package and deliver particular kind of value in the form of a service. Each instance made the thinking a bit simpler and more sophisticated, evolving into a design framework that we now call 16x.

So far 16x has available to organizations through design exercises, workshops, and training. Now the plan is to make it available to a broader audience, first through a book I am writing with BIS Publishers, then perhaps public workshops individuals can sign up for.

Promoting a new way of thinking is a challenge in any field, but particularly when it comes to services. How do you go against popular but simplistic and superficial definitions of what services really are, what they can be, and why they even exist? We will see.

Presently, I am on a special assignment at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.NL), within the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. I am co-founder of an experimental unit called XLAB. We are developing design methods for civil servants to think bigger and bolder in the design, development, and implementation of policy; and not be forced to address only parts of a problem simply because it is too complex.

XLAB is to pioneer and demonstrate a future way of working at RVO.NL, with in-house capabilities in systems thinking, service design, and the design of transitions. My task is to develop the methods, the supporting instruments, and train the first batch of XLABers. It’s been one of the most fulfilling assignments of my career and I will miss it when it comes to an end. Most of all the people I work with.

Industrial engineering in college, a chance encounter with The Principles of Systems by J.W. Forrester a bit earlier, and the Carnegie School much later, plus the creativity and imagination I've held on to from childhood, have helped form my way of thinking. I've been a product manager, salesman, analyst, researcher, teacher, author and consultant, across HCL-HP, PSI-Bull, Carnegie Mellon, Gartner and PwC.

Then in 2010, I made a discovery that put me on a new trajectory. It's been an exciting but risky adventure with painful mistakes, the consequences of which you fully absorb when you are the corporation. But it had to be done, and no employer their right mind would've tolerated the time it has taken. The economics of billable hours would certainly allow for it. So I did.

Fortunately, I found support from people not only willing to try an unfamiliar, unproven, and untested model, but also pay for its use, thus allowing me to continue for so long. I’m grateful to the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK), Boeing, Lowe’s, and the United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they start a winning game.

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