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Design Thinking Webinar Q&A

Design Thinking Webinar Q&A
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Recently, I presented our new Design Thinking: The Secret Ingredient to Innovation webinar. I wasn’t able to answer all the questions asked during the session and wanted to post them for everyone to see and share. Let me know if you have more!

Not synonymous, but complimentary often times. The agile principles of collaboration, iteration, self-reflection, embracing change, and self-organizing teams fit beautifully with the design thinking concepts of empathy, openness to failure, rapid prototyping, and curiosity!

Innovative, forward-thinking, usually successful (!), but the most telling characteristics to me are open communication, encouragement of new ideas, ones that focus on the customer and human-based needs.

It is more than that; a persona represents not only a role, but the needs, emotions, wants, and problems of that role.

You can, but be careful not to lose the personal touch in that!

I think you have two options:

  1. Don’t try to please everyone. Pick the most desired or most valuable persona.
  2. Segment your product for different personas.

Say you are a toy maker. Let’s take one of your toys through the SCAMPER technique:

  • Are there pieces we could Substitute for different materials?
  • Could we Combine two toys to make a super-cool one (think transformers)?
  • Could we Adapt the toy for different uses/games?
  • Could we Modify the toy to make it more attractive?
  • Could we Put it to another use (think Legos as furniture)?
  • Should we Eliminate a part of it?
  • Could we Reorder/Reverse some part of making it?

For more on the SCAMPER technique, see our SCAMPER Technique – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… or Reinvent post.

  1. What do you like?
  2. What do you wish it did/had?
  3. What don’t you like?

How about having the technology team involved in the observation or shadowing? Or at least show them video of it?

That’s the toughest question and no one right answer (and no, I don’t have the ‘magic bullet’ if they are resistant!). If it’s in your power or confidence level, suggest they get trained on Agile concepts and/or Design Thinking. A few things can help: do a design-thinking session (maybe on your own time) and show them the results; find someone in upper management to be a champion. Maybe convince them to run a small experiment. I know of one large bank that did that for a few teams; volunteer projects, small subject matter. The results were the implementation of some of the ideas that gave the bank a great return!

I personally have found that only when organizations are saying they are “agile”, or “lean”, or “design thinkers” without actually doing it! And/or when management isn’t really supporting it (they are telling teams to be agile, be lean, innovate, but they aren’t supporting what it takes to do it!).

One of my favorite articles is a study by IBM: The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM’s Design Thinking Practice. Also, check out the Harvard Business Review’s Why Curiosity Matters article that I mentioned.

The intent should be to get the two groups to share the same vision/goal (overall success of the organization, targeted markets, etc.). Drive the groups to be transparent about conflicting departmental goals and strategize on how to handle them together. You could run a design thinking workshop to do that!.

Prototypes can be any type of model, but the goal is to let the user interact so that you can gauge interest, resolution of problem/need, emotion, likes/dislikes, etc.

Ask good questions. Why are we building this? What problem are we trying to solve? Why are we having that problem (root cause)? Who is our real target audience? Brainstorming can help in understanding even whom to involve in requirements and needs.

Ah, the shiny object. We can use what we call Intelligent Disobedience. Empathize with that president to understand why they are latching onto the shiny object. You may need to do some analysis to figure out how to present that the shiny object is not right (won’t solve any of our problems), could be harmful (will actually introduce NEW problems!), and/or is too expensive for the value it might add.

Contrary to my typical detailed requirements workshops, where I recommend groups of around 14 or less, design thinking sessions or workshops can work well with 30 to 40 people, especially when you are in the ideation/prototyping steps. The key, I think, is to break work down into teams, with teams of 7 or less.

Anyone! But within an organization, I think management needs to embrace it for it to truly succeed.

Of course! That’s part of the why; what is the root cause of the problem.

If you would like to learn more on design thinking, take a look at our Design Thinking. Develop Innovative Products and Services course. Or, let us know if we can help as you continue developing your design thinking practices.

– Ali

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About the Author

Ali Cox

Ali Cox

Alison (Ali) Cox, Netmind Lead Expert – Agile & Business Analysis, has experience since the mid-1980s in various areas, including business analysis, project methodology development and training, systems development (mainframe, client-server, and web), and telecommunications management. Alison began her career in the financial services area, and then moved into systems development for accounting systems. She has provided consulting and training in business analysis and project management for small companies to Fortune 500 corporations worldwide and speaks Spanish fluently. Alison is also a partner of TEMSS (Telecommunications Efficiency Management Strategies and Services), which provides telecommunications efficiency auditing and billing analysis services to clients in all areas of business across the United States. She completed her Master of Business Administration in MIS and Accounting from the University of Georgia. Connect with Ali on LinkedIn.

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