In today’s marketplace, customers expect IT to help them find solutions that will allow them obtain a competitive edge. Managing to the minimum service level is an expectation but IT can provide so much more value by employing a consultative approach to problem solving for both technical and business problems. IT teams need to listen to their customers and they need to take innovative approaches to find a solution that positions the organization to succeed.
Design thinking is an approach that has been around for over thirty years yet people believe it applies only to designing a product or determining the aesthetics of a website or an application. It can be applied in these situations but the applications within IT can be much broader. When applied to problem solving or service or process design, the design thinking approach can deliver innovative solutions that meet or exceed both the customer and the IT team’s expectations.
At the most basic level, design thinking is a customer focused approach that helps to identify innovative solutions and new opportunities. It starts with reframing the initial problem statement to ensure that the solution is not predetermined. If customers are complaining about how long it takes make a purchase on a website, the problem statement isn’t “fix website”. With design thinking, defining the right problem statement helps to identify a creative solution.
Why are customers complaining about how long it takes to make a purchase on the website?
Asking “why” changes our perspective of the issue. Customers are complaining because it takes are large number of clicks to make a purchase.
Why does it take a large number of mouse clicks to make a purchase?
Customer must enter their shipping and payment information as well as demographic data that is unrelated to their purchase.
Why are customers having to enter demographic data that is unrelated to their purchase?
The marketing team needs the demographic data to maximize the success of bulk email campaigns.
Asking “why” multiple times helps us reframe our problem statement. It reframes the initial problem statement. The new problem statement could be “find a way to provide demographic data for marketing campaigns” or something similar. Focusing on the problem at the most basic level will lead to a very different solution.
Once the problem is framed appropriately, the ideation process begins by employing divergent thinking to ensure that many potential solutions are explored. There are numerous opportunities and potential solutions discussed. Divergent thinking is brainstorming and when conducted appropriately, during this phase there are no wrong answers. Design thinking encourages involving customers and exploring many solutions.
This approach also incorporates convergent thinking to help narrow down the potential solutions to realize the best option. Patterns and themes are identified from the brainstorming session. When focusing on finding the right solution, desirability, viability, and feasibility of the solution must be considered. A test and learn approach is adopted to allow for learning which encourages further innovation and strengthens the final solution.
Adopting design thinking as a foundational element of IT’s overall approach results in solutions which meet or exceed the customer’s expectations. Key metrics relating to business outcomes, customer and employee satisfaction, engagement scores, productivity, and customer loyalty will show that the innovative solutions developed using the design thinking approach are not only positioning the customer to succeed but improving the productivity and satisfaction of IT employees.
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on strategy, innovation, process, and culture to increase effectiveness, improve efficiency, and optimize costs. Discover how design thinking can improve your IT organization. Ask us to facilitate a design thinking exercise with your team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 520-591-2427.