Inclusivity: you only find out what you need to know by asking people about the problem


3 min read
25 Feb
25Feb

Intuit is a 35-year-old software company. It builds a range of products across small business and consumer spaces. Ben works on QuickBooks Online, an accounting product which has over 4.5 million global customers.

Scott Cook, Intuit’s founder, embedded the company’s customer-centric principles from the very beginning. A personal experience set the scene for this focus on customer experience.

Quicken was Intuit’s original personal accounting software product. Its inception was the solution to a domestic observation. Scott noticed that his wife was spending a lot of time and effort sitting at the kitchen table to manually balance her cheque book. This kitchen table is now installed at the Intuit Head Office in Mountain View, California. The table is a reminder that the company will always place the customer at the heart of everything they do.

The founding value to deliver beyond customer expectations drives everything Intuit does. This value is operationalised through their Design for Delight framework, otherwise known as D4D.

Design for Delight is the articulation of three key principles which aim to deliver ‘dramatic improvements in our customers’ lives’:


Principle 1: Deep Customer Empathy

Ben describes this as taking the time to understand what the customer is experiencing, what the customer’s problem is. This gives the company both the information and empathy to inspire innovation.


Principle 2: Go Broad to Go Narrow

This is the process that Ben describes as ‘What are all the possible solutions to this problem?’ Having generated ideas, the process is to narrow these down to the best solution.


Principle 3: Rapid Experiments with Customers

Rapid experimentation with customers is active testing of solutions to meet customer needs. The findings from this phase intentionally circle back to principle 1, providing real-life feedback before the end solution is built.


Scott Cook says that ‘D4D is our number one secret weapon at Intuit. There is no number 2.’

Ben is clear that ‘the culture at Intuit dictates that D4D should be in everything that we do and D4D is also used internally at Intuit. Intuit strongly aligns with the employee experience. It’s important that the employee comes first. Amazing employee experience leads to amazing customer experience. This leads to successful shareholder returns.’

An example of using D4D internally is a recent office move. To align with D4D principles, the first step was to understand the needs of employees for their office space. Diversity and inclusion considerations arising from D4D was the need for gender-neutral toilets. ‘Understanding that it matters to employees is critical.’ Ben says that when using D4D, the company always find something surprising in the process, giving the following example:

‘One of the behaviours we are trying to change this year is to become more customer-obsessed. We were looking at trying to understand how customer-obsessed employees are. We interviewed employees and got them to self-rate out of 10 how customer-obsessed we are. The average range was between 7–10, so rating quite high.’

We also asked employees about what we could do better to be more customer obsessed. This generated quite a few ideas. Staff reflected that perhaps they had initially rated themselves too highly on current customer obsession. Going through the D4D process revealed an internal blind spot which had stopped us seeing all the things that we could do for our customers.’

Ben proposes that D4D is a good approach to follow for other companies because

‘you only find out what you need to know by asking people about the problem.’

He believes it is an easy model for people to follow. D4D only has three principles. Intuit publish these freely at www.intuitlabs.com/design-for-delight so anyone can learn more if they want to.’


The above case study is one of several in my book Inclusive Growth: Future-proof your business by creating a diverse workplace.

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Inclusive Growth provides a practical framework that enables you to deliver a sustainable, diverse and inclusive workplace that allows your organisation to grow.

You will understand how to:

  • Strategically align diversity and inclusion to organisational growth
  • Change the culture and motivate senior leaders to ‘walk the talk’ for inclusivity
  • Design and implement a sustainable inclusivity infrastructure
  • Work as a whole organisation rather than in HR isolation
  • Celebrate your inclusivity to become an employer of choice in your industry