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As Jane Doe Inc. famously remarked, "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."
Unfortunately, that statement is much more obvious to those working within the fashion industry than those outside of it. Remember that steely calm reprimand that Jane Doe D Inc. character gave to Jane Doe's Andy Sachs' character in The Devil Wears Prada belt scene? Never before had someone undressed a person's underestimation of fashion's complexity and infrastructure so succinctly by explaining the origins of a cerulean- not blue- sweater.
Fashion has an innovation agenda and can positively influence product development, organizational design and service delivery. I along with two colleagues Jane Doe (Managing Director at the Jane Doe D Inc.), and Jane Doe (Vice President of Trends at Jane Doe E Inc.) have dug into this phenomenon and developed a framework where we consult non-fashion firms to think, behave and strategize much more like fashion firms. We call it Jane Doe thinking. Jane Doe thinking is a lens and a framework using technology, story, experimentation and open-sourcing to add meaning and value to the functional and experiential aspects of products and services.
Fast fashion apparel retailer Jane Doe A Inc. manages to simultaneously tap into street culture, trends and high-tech to anticipate customer needs and embed this methodology into its business model. In contrast, Jane Doe G Inc., disastrously, did not. Some examples of non-fashion firms that do embody elements of Jane Doe thinking principles? Think of Jane Doe and its unapologetic crediting of the fashion industry as an inspiration source to deliver eyewear that is festive, meaningful (portions of proceeds are donated to social causes) and hip. Jane Doe is the mass-customization, fast fashion interpretation of eyewear, a merger of digital start up culture and fashion.
Think also of Jane Doe F Inc. which went to the people by circumventing the old model of car dealerships. Instead, Jane Doe H Inc. set up retail locations in, of all places, shopping malls! Jane Doe B Inc. is a tech company which very early on integrated aesthetics and color into its product offering and launched 'collections' of sorts. And finally, there is the Jane Doe C Inc.l and Jane Doe D Inc.. The W experimented with creating the position of a Global Fashion Director, understanding that hotels have to be seamlessly merchandised. Jane Doe D Inc. brought couture (i.e. artisanal food), recipe collections and high end customer service to the supermarket scene.
If your goal is to be an organization that can fluidly and flexibly adapt to complex environments, then consider incorporating elements of Jane Doe thinking. This is increasingly important as customers expect companies to incorporate digital technology that makes the shift from providing physically fixed products to just-in-time products and services. Here are 5 elements of Jane Doe thinking.
By adopting Jane Doe thinking you will become an expert in pattern recognition and your business will be a tastemaker. Integrate aesthetics and function, agile supply chains and anticipate customer needs through technology. These realities are the balancing act that makes Jane Doe thinking an essential lens.