Why Design Thinking Could Fail For You!!!

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Design Thinking for Leaders

Have you recently completed a brief Design Thinking presentation, Design Thinking course or Design Thinking workshop to walk out feeling like you've learned a useful methodology, but are unsure how it translates into real-world value?

In the next few minutes we're going to address why the Design Thinking Process can be confusing for participants and why it runs out of gas if you only ever use it as prescribed (ie. as separate pieces) rather than as a set of continuous, consecutive and compounding exercises.

The big deal when you use Design Thinking in pieces (as prescribed), is that participants are left to join the dots and create segways between the pieces. This leaves people lost.

The big difference between that and the Moshpit way of doing Design Thinking, is that we do it as a series of planned consecutive activities where the previous activity frames the next one. And the next one, compounds the previous.

This is critical because then the story strengthens as we progress and the end solution becomes the only logical way to go about solving the problem. And everyone agrees!

Let's get into this.

What is Design Thinking?

Skip this if you know what Design Thinking is!

We're going to assume you as a Leader have already heard and know about Design Thinking. This is a sizeable topic and we will not go into it because we're looking at an extension of it. If you don't know a thing about Design Thinking then check out IDEO Design Thinking or Interaction Design Foundation and familiarise yourself with the concepts of the framework! Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test. Also check out Why Design Thinking Works from Harvard Business Review.

A Super-Quick Background

Skip this if you're not interested in the Design Thinking value proposition!

The Design Thinking Framework is no air-fairy methodology conjured up by millennial wiz-kids with acronyms either. Every once in a while, a new way of organising work leads to extraordinary improvements and this. is. it! Design Thinking stepped into serious play when it became known that Design led companies over a ten year period, outperformed the S&P 500 by an extraordinary 211%. Since then, consulting firms McKinsey, Accenture, PwC, and Deloitte have all acquired design consultancies and many have followed in their footsteps.

Design is NOT How It Looks. It's How It WORKS!!!

You just have to look at Google for confirmation of this.

When it comes to good design, “It’s not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works!!!" said Steve Jobs.

In our experience, design is a three-fold sequence of activities.

  • Initial problem exploration and solution discovery.

  • Storyboarding the actual user experience (UX) design.

  • Testing, reworking and refining the design with actual users.

Design Thinking Should Be Everywhere

If project teams don't have the Design Thinking Process somehow built into everything they do, it will be difficult if not near impossible to drive a business-desirable outcome with todays customer because:-

  • You'll be too slow to deliver customer value.

  • You'll deliver insufficient customer value.

  • You'll deliver the wrong customer value.

Design Thinking should be everywhere in your organisation because business today is all about solving customer problems and providing value faster than your competitor. Design Thinking is the ultimate, creative, problem-solving framework for enabling those efficient and collaborative teams of tomorrow.

A Billboard - One Continuous Layout

There are two effective approaches to applying the Design Thinking methodology, but the latter is more effective as it more creative and applies the philosophy in the application as well as the execution (the former only applies it in execution):

  • #1 Apply it verbatim or exactly as it was prescribed.

  • #2 Apply Design Thinking with a Design Thinking Attitude.

Leaders, the reason for this is that what you'll notice with Design Thinking Courses is that your teams are taught how to create the individual templates verbatim (eg. Persona, Journey etc) but what they're not taught is how to arrange, blend, slice and dice the templates and methods to create one continuous layout.

This application of Design Thinking we've coined Billboard Design Thinking and it is unique to Design Moshpit (see illustration below). It's called this for two reasons, the first is because of the similarity to it and the billboards you see on a freeway or highway. Secondly it's a marketing tool to help sell the idea and solution forward.

Arranging, Blending, Slicing & Dicing

Arranging, blending, slicing and dicing templates and methods to create new processes or update existing processes, has successfully proven to drive outcomes with large numbers of stakeholders across various time periods.

Blending templates allows for greater flexibility when designing workshops. This has been a bunch of serious play for our designers! With this line of thinking as a precursor, we have created a number of standard and bespoke, life-sized process wall posters for our clients. For example:

  • The Lightning Decision Jam Is where to start when you're new to Design Thinking! With 10 stakeholders it demonstrates the effectiveness of Design Thinking in driving an outcome in a very short period of time.

  • The Project Vision Jam

  • The Product or Service Vision Jam

  • The User Experience Design Jam

  • The Agile Process Design Jam

  • The User Journey Jam

  • And more...

Using Design Thinking for Design Thinking has allowed us to create standard, bespoke and instance variations of these workshops driven by the problem challenge, number of stakeholders and time allowed.

One Continuous Layout

So if your using Design Thinking as prescribed, rather than designing it as one continuous Design Thinking Workshop (from the relevant Design Thinking Tools and Techniques, arranged in frames and segway exercises) there's a high chance you will leave your participants to join the dots themselves.

This leaves people with a lot of useful information, but feeling lost as to what to do with it.

Doing Design Thinking as a series of planned consecutive activities where the previous activity frames the next one, and the next one, compounds the previous...is the way to engage and deliver value.

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