Maximising the Power of Design Thinking
Design Thinking has been gaining popularity and influence over the past few years. It’s commonly associated with pushing innovation in organisations and helping people solve complex problems in efficient ways. Harnessing elements of design, this methodology prioritises a human-centred focus, encouraging customer empathy and deeper engagement throughout the product development journey.
Adobe has reported that companies that foster creativity enjoy 1.5 times greater market share and that the vast majority of design leaders citied an emotional bond with customers as a defining characteristic of an advanced design practice. Whether a beginner or mature design, how do you make the most out of your Design Thinking potential? We’ve passed it over to the experts, gathering the insights of our expert International Keynote Panel, ahead of Design Thinking 2019. We’ll let Pamela Bailey, Head of Design and User Experience at Facebook, Margaret Price, Principal Design Strategist at Microsoft, and Ryan Rumsey, Assistant Vice President Experience Strategy at USAA do the talking from here.
Pamela Bailey, Head of Design and User Experience, Facebook
How is Facebook effectively harnessing Design Thinking to drive commercial outcomes?
From there, it's really about falling in love with the problem that we're trying to solve. This is incredibly critical from the standpoint of not only the designer and product management group, but also with the entire organisation to support the product experience.
The other area that’s important to get right is the idea of minimum viable value; making sure it's both complete and very valuable. The key to this is showing that you really understand that problem space. During my time at Facebook, I'm learning and seeing that the Design Thinking culture is integrally the way the organisation works."
is the importance of gaining organisation-wide buy-in to Design Thinking
"I encourage team members to champion the big concepts which are encapsulated by Design Thinking. These include: deep customer empathy, broadly generating numerous ideas and then narrowing, and then rapidly iterating those ideas with end users. I think the most critical area for the entire company is to be bought into is customer empathy. Everything from there rolls out from it and if you don’t have have that deep customer empathy, then the iteration, and going broad then narrow will only skim the surface.
"It’s significant to ensure you are constantly in the field, or have meaningful touchpoints with your customers at all levels within the organisation. It's not just about the product team; it’s about ensuring that the sales team really understand their customers, all the way to the finance team are understanding the company mission, and how end users are using the product.
To constantly grow in this space, we actively seek feedback on our product experiences and aim to understand the general lives of our end users or customers. Inspiration and innovation can be found when you truly, truly understand that end customer need or opportunity."
Margaret Price, Principal Design Strategist, Microsoft
How is Microsoft effectively harnessing Design Thinking to drive commercial outcomes?
"At Microsoft, we take an inclusive design, customer-driven approach, which is inherently participatory. We create with a vision for an extremely diverse audience because our products impact billions of people worldwide. We adopt a learning mind-set to bring this to life in practical, meaningful ways within our processes that become consistent actions.
To awaken this, we think about every notch of the employee experience, beginning with on-boarding people to understand what customer-driven inclusive design is. We also think about the entire product development process, including, how we tell stories and give visibility to teams internally, and how we recognise and reward performance for employees across the board.
We find that empathy is one of the most important and critical parts of this entire process. By constantly asking the question, ‘What human needs can we solve, and how can we empathise with a diverse range of people?’, we promote an environment where people can feel fulfilled in their world. I believe that it’s a fully encompassing approach that spans people, places, processes, how we think, and how we act, at every facet of the organisation."
is the importance of gaining organisation-wide buy-in to Design Thinking
We think about scaling our strategy in a number of ways. One is ensuring that we have a community of experts, and that we’re training people. We need more than just a centralised community of expertise, so by teaching others the expertise we’re ensuring that they can go and lead this way in their own groups.
There’s a unique culture in different groups across the organisation, and we want to meet people where they are, so that they can pick up wherever they need to in the process. The roots of this are grounded in empowering others to move, to act, to learn, and to tell stories."
How can you work to continually improve
your Design Thinking strategy?
We work to improve our customer-driven inclusive strategy by constantly having a learning mind-set. We recognise this when our hypotheses are disproved, when we’re wrong, and when we fail. Learning from these experiences enables us the agility to recognise what works and what doesn’t and also how we can leverage a mindset of curiosity and empathy for the diverse range of people that we’re creating for. It’s important to continually push boundaries about what’s possible, to improve the customer experience, and really give people more value.
Ryan Rumsey, Assistant Vice President Experience Strategy, USAA
is USAA effectively harnessing Design Thinking to drive commercial outcomes?
USAA has been a leader within the Design Thinking space for several years now. USAA offer various learning sessions to encourage and distil Design Thinking, via an in-house Human-Centred Design Practice and via a partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. Through the in-house practice team, USAA leaders learn the concepts of Design Thinking and how to apply them to their daily roles. Via the partnership with UT-Austin, employees are taught concepts and Design Thinking for the equivalent of 60 Master’s-level hours of coursework, culminating in a presentation where teams are presented with an idea for which they develop a business case and recommend whether or not USAA should go forward with the idea.
Design Thinking is also a proven method for aligning people with different perspectives early on in the piece. It allows for a common playing field that we can all operate from, and enables focus in the problem-solving space from an objective point of view.
What is the importance of gaining organisation-wide buy-in to Design Thinking principles?
In a digital
environment, it’s even more important to continue to revise on the fly as products
are ‘living’ as they are in production, and people are using them at the same
time. A critical shift for a lot of large companies need to make is from the ‘ship
and forget’ mentality, to a ‘shipping is just the first stage’ mindset.
A big part of what Design Thinking brings, is the assurance that the whole company will now understands that once you’ve finished a project, that’s just the beginning – the product itself doesn’t stop needing attention. A project is all about a particular budget and assigning resources and projects are meant to die, whereas, a product is always out there.
How can you work to continually improve your Design Thinking strategy?
Design Thinking itself is a framework of how to problem solve. If you’re looking to constantly improve your Design Thinking strategy you can just think of the design-thinking strategy in itself as a product. Consulting firms are always changing and adapting how they do their consulting, so whatever frameworks they use, they’re applying the design-thinking process to their own services; it’s like a product unto itself.
To do this effectively, you need to gather data, and look at how your ‘clients’ – which might be your colleagues, are adapting your approaches. Are they buying in to what you’re selling? If not, use the same type of research that you would when making a digital product, and constantly tweak your overall process of Design Thinking.