Design thinking is an overall approach that focuses on customers and covers every field and process step that spans empathy, definition, ideas, prototyping, and testing. When you think about how to incorporate design thinking into your company’s innovation program, it may be helpful to develop a set of design thinking considerations, especially those that specialize in this moderate mindset.
From a process perspective, design thinking is very similar to the traditional innovation pipeline, developing raw ideas into concrete business solutions, but incorporating customer-centricism and ideally customer engagement into the whole.
Here are five considerations to help you design a design thinking workshop to help you plan.
1. Design thinking provides principles, not processes
First, it’s important to remember that design thinking is an approach, but it doesn’t define the tools, techniques, or target results of an idea session. It adds elements of customer centricity, creative experimentation, multi-functional collaboration, and quick iteration, but does not specify the entire process or the software that might be involved.
You can think of this as a set of guidelines for connecting both the upstream of the process in the idea session and the upstream of the process in terms of customer empathy and problem definition, and downstream points in terms of prototyping and testing.
This provides a common framework to help ensure customer commitment throughout the idea, design and development process and transform your thinking from an “inside-out” R&D mindset to an “outside-in” customer-centric mindset.
2. Adapt the exact type and scope of the idea workshop to your business goals
Based on your business goals, there are a variety of ideas workshops that meet your needs. If you’re in the early stages of the overall idea process, you can capture customer challenges and market opportunities. Later, you can get a long list of practical and viable project ideas from the group and quickly navigate to a short list of priorities. You may want to go further and get a set of desirable designs, features, and features for one or more specific solutions.
The key is to think about where you are in the innovation pipeline and what workshops will help you move on to the next phase. a) Business challenges, b) long lists of ideas and a short list prioritized, or c) do you want to collect specific solution requirements, designs, and features? Or is it all above?
It’s also important to set the right scope for each session in terms of key areas of focus and what ideas you’re looking for. For example, are you genuinely interested in technology-related ideas, or do you accept business, process, or technology ideas? Are you interested in tactical, step-by-step ideas, or both of them are strategic and destructive ideas?
Once you know the scope of these workshops on the type of workshop you want to run and the type of ideas you are looking for, it will be much easier to communicate this to your intended audience and stakeholders. This is a great way to set expectations and show everyone the same page before the session.
3. Define the clear role of the participants and adapt them to the main areas of focus of the workshop
Because the workshop type and scope are defined in the top level goals and objective statements and six to eight main focus areas or subtopics, use these main focus areas to select the most appropriate subject experts and sessions from both the employee group and the customer group.
Workshop facilitators do not have to be experts on the subject of the workshop topic itself, but must be familiar with promoting these types of sessions, ideally have dozens (or hundreds) workshops under their belts. They should be responsible for the entire end-to-end process, including pre-work and post-work, and have the main points for managing strategic outcomes from the workshop.
When choosing workshop participants, aim for a cross-functional team that can provide insights from different perspectives and backgrounds. The beneficial side benefit of these types of workshops is that they are excellent at promoting consensus among diverse groups and are very useful not only for coordination within the organization, but also for working with customers and partners.
4. Ensure that the process is high quality, repeatable, and flexible configurable
For quality and consistency, it is important that the innovation workshop process is repeatable and standardized. It is also important to have a workshop process that is highly configurable and tailorable to each specific session level to meet the needs of each client or session.
To accomplish this, it is useful to think of a workshop as a series of modular steps that can be loosely or tightly coupled as needed. For example, methods such as understanding business requirements, identifying ideas, discussing, prioritizing, and understanding the capabilities and capabilities of solutions are all self-reliant and can be combined as needed based on the nature and duration of the workshop.
It’s important to have robust processes and templates, understand the timing of each process step based on the number of participants, and understand whether the session is in face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid format.
5. Make the software part of the process, not the process.
When you think about innovation workshops, idea sessions, and design thinking sessions, one of the natural reactions is to quickly jump into software selection. I’ve written about the importance of software in the idea process in “More Post-It: Software Case Studies in Digital Innovation Sessions.”
Software is a powerful enabler, but world-class idea sessions are made up of equivalent parts of people, processes, and technologies, and simplicity is the key. The software should be almost invisible, easy to log in, easy to enter ideas, and easy to vote for. In event-based sessions that last two to two days, it is important that the software has a quick learning curve and does not require a large amount of pre-configuration or long explanation during the workshop.
Therefore, in many cases, you need to look for completely different types of software solutions or modules, as opposed to a full-featured enterprise innovation management platform. This is what I call a multimodal idea and helps to set the rhythm of innovation. This allows one software package to be used for an ongoing enterprise-wide idea process, and another package or module for event-based ideas. If you are working with an enterprise innovation management vendor, be sure to review modules or features that are specific to these lean event-based sessions.
Finally, don’t over design think it
Finally, the principle of design thinking may be a powerful way to ensure that you stick to your customers throughout the process, but it is important to think overly design or rely solely on design thinking companies or innovative software companies ultimately the final solution.
Intuitively, not every process step has to be nirvana of design thinking. For example, a carefully placed 30-minute idea capture session (where individuals enter ideas in their time using their laptops) is an excellent way to capture numerous ideas from a group and speak to everyone and lead. Fruitful elevator pitches, group discussions, and subsequent voting.
The most productive idea workshops and the best customer experiences are sophisticated and optimized workshops with unique DNA consisting of strategy, human resources, processes, and technology, through years of experience.