lean agile teams
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!

Is Design Thinking synonymous with Agile methodology of system implementation?

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!

How do you define a company that uses “design thinking”?

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.

Is a Persona on a project meant to represent the person’s role?

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

Can you build a persona at a higher level. Groups of folks instead of people?

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

What should we do if the needs of core personas clash?

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.

Can you give a quick example of SCAMPER? I don’t understand how that would work.

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?

Would you repeat the 3 questions you ask your testers?

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

How do we best transfer the knowledge gained by those who are shadowing the customer to the technology team?

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

How have you managed to gain acceptance and support from upper management, especially related to timelines and cost?

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!

Have you found fatigue in people thinking that Design Thinking is the new agile, new lean, etc. and how combat?

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!).

Are there Return on Investment figures linking cost against business outcome?

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.

When dealing with two different customers (i.e. AP and Supply Chain), what is your recommendation on a design approach?

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 may be models (UML) or do you always prefer wireframes?

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.

On a big project with a lot of users, how do we best identify who should be involved ?

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.

How do you stay ahead of a president that latches on to the latest shiny object for IT to implement?

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.

Is there a limit on how many participants can sit in one design thinking session?

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.

Who should initiate the design thinking approach?

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

Shouldn’t we also ask why we have the problem?

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

When is the next B2T Design Thinking Course scheduled?

We have two scheduled: January 28-29 in Atlanta and April 29-30 in Chicago. See our public class schedule to register!

Did you miss the webinar presentation? Good news…we added the recording as an on-demand webinar!

Please let us know if there is more we can help with as you continue developing your design thinking practices.

– Ali


More on Design Thinking

Design Thinking for Innovation Course

Design Thinking Starter Kit Job Aid

Agile Analysis Boot Camp


Also published on Medium.

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