Adarsh Halwe
Adarsh Halwe 28 September 2016

Design Thinking For Collaboration And Empathy

Design Thinking helps in meeting the customer requirements through the lens of creative problem solving, technological possibilities, and customer-centric based strategies.

The IT world is witnessing a sea of changes in terms of new business models as well as technologies. However, for any organization, the challenge lies in structuring an IT organization and strategically managing the product/ service delivery expectations of the clients with limited financial as well as human resources.

Here comes the relevance of a concept like design thinking, an efficient approach of building ideas from the scratch, to brainstorm and test solutions for the best possible outcome. When we are delivering digital transformation solutions, design thinking needs to be put at the core. Let’s take a specific example which we all might have experienced.

In any IT organization, at the starting of a project we all scramble with the objective of solving the business problem or client issue efficiently and yet want to keep the solution as simple as possible. In this whole hustle, we largely forget how the consumer perceives the solution, resulting in multiple change requests, and the scrapping of modules, the rebuilding of certain modules or worse scrapping of the whole solution. This can end up in outcomes that have been tangible but not up to what was expected.

This is where Design Thinking can help business analysts understand the real challenge and helps in developing a product or digital transformation solutions that the users can correlate with their requirements and use intuitively. It helps in meeting customer requirements through the lens of creative problem solving, technological possibilities, and client-based strategies, which helps any organizations to excel in the field of product/service delivery.

As business analysts, we largely work as an advisor/consultant trying to understand what really the clients require implicitly or explicitly and how technology can be used as an enabler to deliver these requirements. In this whole process of consulting, we move from collecting and analyzing the requirements to prototyping to delivery either using lean principles or waterfall methodology. However, often we forget to address a couple of the below key points to deliver our value proposition:

  • Who are our key partners?
  • What are the key activities that are required to achieve the value proposition?
  • Which are the key resources do our value proposition require to be developed?
  • What is the value that we plan to deliver through these value propositions to our end consumers?
  • Who are our most important customers/consumers?
  • What type of relationship exists and is expected to be established and maintained with the targeted customer segments?
  • What channels are preferred for awareness building?
  • For what value are our customers really willing to pay?
  • What are the cost inherent to the business model and value proposition?

As business consultants, we focus on surveys, business mapping and KPIs as the success keys for an assignment. However, instead of this the focus should have been given in identifying the correct value proposition, customer segment, revenue stream and joint working for the Magic. This is why we need to move up in terms of value addition by being a facilitator along with the consultant role.

The bimodal role, enables us to work in dual velocity as we not only focus on requirements but also make sure the value proposition has all attention on consumers. This involves in working in an exploratory manner in collaboration with client team to empathize with consumers through (extension to what is required as consultant):

  • Creative reframing: Allows in widening the scope after problem framing through solutions for the challenges (stated vs unstated needs). The why-how laddering technique can be a good tool for this and can be substantiated using the Business model canvas.
  • Customer journey route: To map the consumer emotions so that focus can be:
    • Map emotions: When do they feel high and low and
    • Territory mapping: Identify direct/ traditional competition, new/experimental and perceptual competitors based on influencing consumers asking for more features
  • User personas for tangible iterative prototyping: Fail initially to succeed later

These activities often enable looking beyond the obvious and results in platformed products like UBER, eBay, Amazon, Flipkart etc. or disruptive business like Facebook Commerce. Design Thinking has allowed a CPG company to rebuild itself in its 174 year history: P&G has all ATTENTION ON CUSTOMERS through its Clay Street sessions to reinvent the popular Pampers. Clay Street gets team members to take off their functional hats and see how the product looks from the perspective of the consumer — and in so doing – to view their work in the context of the other functions. This involves all departments from technology, R&D, packaging to marketing.

However, any change always comes with a set of challenges and with Design Thinking the biggest challenge is to be ready to break the process that is generally followed. Instead of requirements being done before prototyping we should be able to do it after. Prototyping will not be counted as an isolated event but the playful and collaborative task in which everyone participates and remains ready to ‘Fail initially to succeed finally’.

Original Article

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