What Sets Apart Design Thinking from “Usual” Workshops?
Does this look like your situation? The term “workshop” has negative associations with your employees – boring powerpoint presentations throughout the day, eyes fighting to stay open and heads wobbling as they catch themselves falling asleep, or miserable minutes of silence in the time allotted for Q&A. As a result the typical objections to planning and running a workshop are: “I don’t want to waste everyone’s time for two days.” “I’m concerned it will be similar to the past where people didn’t participate.” “We never achieve the desired outcome, so why bother?”
Fear no longer! The design thinking workshops completely transform the sessions, with the intense focus and the social energy igniting the participants progress in achieving the workshop outcomes. As collaboration is at the heart of Design thinking, and the workshop format takes an agile and integrative approach, igniting the participants focus on the project at hand. The multi-disciplinary participants are active throughout the entire event and involved at all times. The workshop is designed to ensure the team apply their expertise to the challenge and give their ideas a chance to surface and build on other’s ideas to improve the project. The results of a design thinking workshop are also more wide-ranging and comprise more multifaceted solutions than traditional workshops.
The design thinking workshop is divided into two phases:
- Problem space: In this phase, by immersing themselves in the user’s shoes, and using an intensive research phase the participants gain an in-depth and holistic understanding of the users. The problem is examined as expansively as possible from diverse perspectives using brainstorming, what-how-why methods and so on. It ends with a reframing the original task (“the design challenge”), with the intent to treat the problem and not the symptoms.
- Solution space: The cross-functional participants work intensively to find the best solution to the previously defined design challenge of the ideal user. The buyer persona enables participants to put themselves in the shoes of the end user and work out a solution from their perspective. The proposed solution could be creating a simple prototype and then getting feedback from the users and iterate. Depending on the design challenge, the prototype can be – for example – rough paper prototypes, storyboards, a UI screen design, a complete HR operating model, a service map, a proposed grip handle of a wheelchair and so on. While gathering feedback, the goal of the participants is not just to hear from users but also invite them into the design team and become co-creators.
The design thinking approach makes it possible to return to individual phases if this emerges as a necessity during the course of the workshop, giving the flexibility to iterate at all phases to arrive at the best possible solution keeping in mind the user and business, and the technical constraints. The workshop’s facilitator has to plan the activities to achieve the desired results at each phase, have an eye for the situation and make the course correction when required, while ensuring the journey ahead is easy for the participants involved.
Other (not exhaustive list) characteristics of a design thinking workshop are, for example, the use of Post-its, space for the participants, time boxing, and plenty of reflection time.
- Post-its: to put ideas on paper has the advantage that, depending on the further course of the workshop, they can be taken down and, if necessary, restructured.
- Space for participants: As it is an iterative process in which the participants will constantly need to refer to artifacts they have developed along the way – they need to be allocated a dedicated space. They can’t go around the office and stick them on different walls every other day reducing the overall productivity. Having a “dedicated war room” ensures the team can get together and see progress.
- Time boxing is to stay on the clock for individual activities and phases and ensure participants are on a tight deadline. If 30 minutes is planned for an activity, the group works with the results that are available after those 30 minutes. This approach has proven itself to be valuable because it helps to focus on what is essential, it preserves the necessary dynamism within the workshop and moves the conversation forward.
- Reflection time: As the participants, might feel all over the place after an exercise, they need to be given a chance to reflect and agree to what they have learned. By proving the reflection time they gather their own insights and when they share, there will be an incredible overlap in:“We thought _____ .” “But we saw _____ .” “Now we realize _____.”
The deployment options are explained using two practical examples below:
Project Example 1: Making sense of customer data
Without unified data, the company was working with a flawed view of the customer. The sales spent much time chasing dead-end leads. Marketing saw customers opting out of their communication, and a small survey revealed that they were tired of being targeted with every offer, not the right offers. A recent meeting with the salespeople, marketers indicated that they don’t trust the data and are have started ignoring the reports sent by IT – which could lead to missed revenue opportunities.
An authority decided it was time to invest in single view of data and big data analytics, but also realized that the stumbling block is not the technology but the organization’s current approach to capturing relevant data and using the same. He could foresee multiple obstacles in the form of diverse viewpoints of customer data by the different departments, customer data in multiple databases both in-house and outsourced, diverse IT platforms and channels. The redesign had to create value for the customers and the company. He realized it should entail identification of the company’s goals for using the data, such as reducing marketing and customer support expenses, finding new prospects, cross-selling and up-selling, personalized communication to customers or increasing customer satisfaction.
The result of the two-day design thinking workshop with 18 participants from IT, Big Data scientists, Marketing, Sales. Customer Success, Service Delivery, Finance and the Legal department was a better understanding of:
- a common agreement that data needs to be treated as an asset and not just a byproduct of the transaction system
- gaps in the data being collected made them rethink customer engagement strategies to capitalize on physical-digital convergence in an omnichannel world
- set realistic expectations with the understanding that data can only enable the business to understand – who is buying, what are they buying, when and where they are buying, how many have they recommended and even predict when are they likely to buy; but it can’t tell why they do it – the why needs a different approach
- big data uses cases to provide exceptional human-centered experiences, to create an emotional connection with the customer across the lifecycle
- redistribution of tasks performed by the various departments
- the required IT support, required IT skills and the dependencies between the task areas
- legal and regulatory risks around customer data privacy that could result in a breach of trust.
The participants also prioritized their requirements and created a rough customer data map – mapping the right data to the different stages of the user lifecycle. A significant advantage using design thinking was the time saved because similar results using traditional techniques could only be achieved in much longer workshops. The proof of the buy-in was when they wanted another workshop to identify the metrics to measure the customer-centric efforts of the different departments.
Project Example 2: Identify the future roles in the organization
A manufacturing company’s customers were demanding new. Personalized, high-quality and inexpensive products within shorter and shorter periods of time. The company had to manufacture with increasingly scarce resources, as sustainably as possible. As they were planning for the digitalization of manufacturing, in which the real and virtual worlds converge in an Internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics, services, and data. The challenge was to identify how robotics and automation can augment human workers. Identify ways to re-skilling existing employees and contract staff and keeping in mind the legislations. The key was to attract fresh talent and retain existing talent, becoming a preferred place to work.
A design thinking workshop with the Production, HR, Legal, R&D and Technology team helped identify the future roles. With several of the current roles replaced by smart machines, they need was to understand how people skills must evolve to address the unforeseen roles that machines cannot fulfill – like understanding the product personalization needs or evangelizing adoption of new kinds of consumption. They were able to identify the possible roles and the profiles of people they needed to hire. The participants also realized that the re-skilling training programs need to embed “learnability” among employees in a systematic process of lifelong learning.
Conclusion: Focus on what matters to create incredible workshops
Design thinking workshops are designed participant’s point of view. The facilitator will not spend more than 25% of the time presenting the tools that will be used to achieve the outcome at each phase in a reasonable timeframe.
Design thinking drills on empathy, creativity, data, imagination, intuition, systematic reasoning and insights to increase the chances of user adoption of this innovation. The facilitator ensures the participants feed on designer’s ‘sense and responds’ ability and methods to fulfill people’s unmet needs and deliver value with what is technologically viable, commercially feasible and in lines with the market opportunity. The outcome is achieved because the user insights are pathways to relevance and value in the marketplace. The commercial and technical insights are pathways to strategic, operational and commercial wins for the business.
Innovatus Marketers Touchpoint LLP is a customer experience, marketing, service design, design thinking and business innovation consulting firm, based in India. We offer go-to-market and digital strategy consulting and help our clients rethink and redesign customer and employee value in the digital era. We offer design thinking workshops and consulting, tailored to enable, accelarete or transform your business. We are laser-focused on the problem at hand and your opportunity space, and optimize process to make design thinking and service design principles accessible to your employees who’ve never done it before or stuck-up, and provide “just adequate” theory to help you get moving and achieve outcomes.
You may reach out to Vidya Priya Rao @ +918080015500 or email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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