How a co-design approach unveils new solutions and brings them to life


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I have believed in design approaches since the buzzword “design thinking” appeared. As a program manager at IDEO, I relied on the strong impact of human-centered design on business strategies and their success in the market. We observed the users in their environment, recorded the observations and shared them with the C-Suite.

The phrase “Good design is good business” evolved into user-centered design as the engine of market success. However, as long as it is we who design for others, we are also the limit.

Concept evaluations

Whether we are building new concepts or re-evaluating existing ones, we can expand our spectrum if we open up the pool of knowledge, experiences and perspectives by involving a heterogeneous group of people in our work. We set up interactions with people representative of target groups, on site, remotely or via scouts, as well as within our organizations. These open conversations are not interviews. We want to get under our skin and learn what people really think and do. We also rely on the imagined solutions they share with us. Here, it’s not the number of interactions with people that counts, but the intensity.

To engage user input, stakeholders and colleagues need to create collaborative spaces to generate input. By building on the data received and adapting it in a feasible way, we might see improvements that we had not previously considered: new constellations of existing features, new growth potentials, and possible integrations into networks and systems. related and correlated.

Related: Creative Problem Solving Strategies For Testing Your Business Idea

Development strategy

The reasons for a new concept, or the redesign of an existing concept, are at the heart of the design process as it is commonly practiced in design offices and design thinking departments. However, design methods and approaches should play a key role in strategizing for the implementation and leveraging of the valuable contributions collected. By evolving strategies to bring a concept to life with a design approach, we can ensure that we retain those values ​​and meet the purpose of a project. Layered visualizations of complex systems, models and scenarios are used to communicate effectively with teams, stakeholders, leaders and investors.

To respond to the complexity of a project, we need to see how the parts and functions of the overall system are related and coincide. We cannot test and evolve the whole body, but we have to find key aspects that help us understand how the tilts can impact other aspects and the whole structure. In this way, we can make the impact of a complex structure predictable. It’s important to honor the details and stay clear of assumptions. We need to compare all the contributions or comments we receive, the target people and groups and even the area we are tackling. When working on organizational design projects and implementations, an effective strategy is to let a team from one department design for another department and then themselves. By changing roles, they learn the needs that the other party wants to see implemented as well as the constraints and new perspectives.

Strategy development examines competitor analysis, function trees, roadmaps, development matrix, risk analysis, and exit strategies. With the design approach, these modules evolve around human considerations, values ​​and expectations.

Related: Design Thinking Isn’t a Process, It’s a State of Mind

Neither too small nor too big

The above can be practiced not only in large consulting programs, but also in small internal teams. Leaders at different levels can infuse techniques and approaches into their respective teams at all scales and create a culture of shared innovation as well as effective and engaging ways to collaborate within their organization. The “how to do it” and the understanding of the nuances require support, a tailor-made strategy and supervision of progress. Innovating or evolving from the inside to the outside is far more effective than suggestions from external projects or external innovation poles of large companies. “Inside out” works at all scales, and any company that wants to evolve in a sustainable way must change or meet new challenges.

Designing how we evaluate concepts and purpose is crucial for startups in all phases. Many of them fail when new stakeholders take hold and old values ​​and goals are disrupted by different ambitions and approaches. In established organizational structures, it is crucial to see where the barriers to change processes lie. Innovation skills need to be placed at the intersections of different departments that own and lead. They should function as a network of ambassadors from different units, creating a dynamic balance between the overall framework and individual interpretations or specific applications.

How do we bring all of these perspectives together, connect and engage? The past year has been a great online collaboration experience, which can boost coaching, implementation and monitoring of all of the above. Having mentored undergraduate and graduate students, as well as executives in startups and traditional industries, I can see that anyone can assimilate and practice strategic design interventions.

It is not visualization skills that are a prerequisite for applying design processes, but an open mind, analytical and systems thinking. The people I mentor apply what we have developed together, infuse the process into their work and engage the people around them. This creates a healthy work culture, committed collaborations and positive results.

Related: Why Design Thinking Won’t Solve All Your Innovation Problems


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