The key factors for the success of the Design Thinking method

Design Thinking is a proven innovative collaborative method first developed at the Stanford Design School in the 1990s and then popularized by the IDEO design agency. Sopra HR has been implementing Design Thinking over the past three years to promote innovation and has had the opportunity of testing the method on its customers through a variety of workshops.

This innovative method is especially efficient in finding solutions to a problem through the implementation of a collaborative creative approach. It encourages engagement of all participants and increases their commitment to transformation. A multi-disciplinary approach is the key to brainstorming and finding new ideas.

The keys to success

In Design Thinking, experts within their particular field will participate in special workshops. The objective is to determine new trends and find the innovations of tomorrow. There is a great deal of preparatory work involved to find the appropriate profiles of those taking part. The groups are generally limited to ten people, to maximize interaction. Too many people would limit the time each person could actively contribute.

Design thinking encourages collective creative thinking. This is quite effective because the people involved are usually rather open-minded and eager to share ideas. They need to feel secure and willing to communicate without fear of criticism or of being judged. Allowing free reign on your imagination enables you to come up with the most improbable and ‘disruptive’ ideas.

Among the agile methods, Design Thinking is used in an iterative cycle from the design phase to the development phase of new products and some would even include it in the implementation phase. . It requires responsiveness from teams to offer frequent deliveries of new proposals. Iterativedevelopment implies dividing a project into a certain number of cycles known as ‘iterations’.Each new iteration targets a maximum value. The teams run tests on a regular basis and then approve or reject.

It is important to be continuously questioning and testing ideas ……until the ideal solution is found… and reworking an idea is common practice. At the beginning, we found that people were hesitant, but now the method is quite popular. Participants are curious to see the result and when the workshops are over, the end users gradually implement the solutions designed for and with them. Participants in the Design Thinking method often promote the method within their companies.

Gradually adapting to change

Innovation is mainly hindered by resistance to change. Innovation is often a significant break from a market and well-structured practices and people are not immediately receptive to the advantages. Design Thinking allows you to gradually include change and slowly find a solution tailored to the customer’s requirements. The challenge to allow innovation to exist alongside what is already available. This is a real technical and organizational challenge, because we try to be as fair as possible, in line with reality and as responsive as possible with respect to the new requirements of the market.

Sopra HR takes into account the specific needs of the customers according to their business segment and their context, while trying to create a common standard and realistically respond with reasonable deadlines in the short and medium term. This is “reasonable” innovation.

A war room 

Design Thinking cannot be improvised; people need to be trained in its methodology, to identify the issues that can be appropriately handled and also to assist the teams during workshops. Design Thinking can be adapted to any subject matter and be deployed on a large scale with several teams working together on a single project. You do need to be prepared to spend the time required. To start with, at least two consecutive days in the same room, known as the ‘war room’. This required preparation to allow participants to organize their schedules.

It will be an intensive two days, with a great deal of interaction and discussions. The aim is continuous improvement with great flexibility in organizing interactions according to the subject matter. The workshop leader needs to be able to grasp the key ideas provided by the participants and then act a coach and help them converge these ideas to obtain a common solution.

Design thinking uses a wide variety of tools: ‘personas’, ‘value proposition’, ‘journey maps’… Innovation games can also be used for the description of a target (‘cover story’) or a plan (‘prune the tree’, ‘remember the future’). The games and exercises are visual and based on interactions with people. Workshops are incredible experiences that encourage group dynamics and interaction. And there is usually a very friendly atmosphere.

Design Thinking is especially useful to meet the new challenges of digital transformation. It allows for innovation, slowly, by encouraging collective intelligence.