The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part two

This is part two of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking in the past couple of weeks. Part one is here.

Within these two posts, I want to provide my thoughts, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, one that in my opinion, is urgently needed.

These two posts are not intended as a mapping of the present DT landscape, they are reflective posts coming from what I researched.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks. It has not been easy and often I found a level of confusion that kept forcing me to dig some more and I’m still not sure I have the answers, perhaps just lots of open questions. I think design thinking seems presently fairly messy and I feel is in need of a complete reset.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, more of the present practices and then where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and is lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise” and “hype to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present. Continue reading

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The limitations, criticisms and new pathways for Design Thinking – Part One

Let me summarize where we are today in design thinking. In the past couple of weeks, I have been spending a fair amount of time on investigating design thinking.

This is part one of my thoughts that came out of investigating and researching design thinking

In these two posts, I want to provide my outcomes, bridging the present and pointing towards a better design thinking future, in my opinion urgently needed.

The ‘product of my work’ itself is presently being worked through to be available as an e-book in the coming weeks.

The intent of the e-book is to offer a practical, direct takeaway of design thinking, the present practices and where it is possibly heading. I tried to go linear, gone circular, gone holistic and at times ballistic and sought out tactical and strategic design, recognizing how its orientation has moved through product, service, experience, business model and lifting design into new ways of orientation at tactical and strategic levels.

As I found out from my research, there is an awful amount of “noise and hype” to work through to find the past, present and future positions of design thinking. In summary, I think design thinking is undergoing a revolution, a certain maturing but it is littered with a very messy, highly competitive present.

I am suggesting that perhaps design thinking is a current ‘burning platform’ and the term ‘design thinking’ is so loaded it might need to be reworked under different banners to allow it to evolve as it equally needs to be restated and deepened in its skills, practices, uses, and methodologies. Continue reading

Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation

SurrondedFinally I am completely surrounded. I have that feeling of being somewhat overwhelmed, I can’t twist and turn any more, it simply will not go away. Do I throw myself off the building or decide to listen a little longer? It really is forcing me to think.

Today it seems whenever I pick up a business book each chapter has a section on it. Also I seem not to be able to not fall over all the articles extolling its virtues, I mindlessly “Google it” and you can see your whole life flash before you, if you decided to investigate this seriously.

What am I talking about?  Well nothing other than Design Thinking. I know, most of you are so heavily into this you feel you might as well ‘flip’ over to the next article but are you, really?

Continue reading

Client Engagements – Full of Whipped Cream and Lumpy Gravy

So why did I call this blog post “client engagement- full of whipped cream and lumpy gravy?” Often both are ‘heaped’ onto the poor (final) solution found underneath the client- consulting engagement process. Both are layered on to mask the truth that the ones responsible don’t really understand how to make this process really work.

Managing innovation suffers from this an awful lot. We do need to understand all the ingredients that make up innovation, often we just try to’ top’ them off, failing to understand everything that needs to become part of the final solution.

I’m sure many of you have witnessed or been involved in poor client- consulting engagements. Often the root cause of poor end results within this process stems from a poorly structured engagement briefing process – my lumpy gravy. This creates the effect of creating many problems in delivering back not the best advice or solution to the real problem, offering up the lashings of whipped cream to cover up the bland solution dish underneath.

The engagement process does still rankle for me as it causes many of the difficulties and tensions within the emotions that many projects seem to swing through –  trusted and distrusted — loved and despised — all in equal measure where many variations could be reduced with a little thinking and challenging.

Avoiding some of the pitfalls

So I thought I’d take a  look at some of the problems within the client – consulting engagement process that can mask what is really lying underneath.

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An Ideal Innovation Client Engagement Process

Some years back I came across a visual suggestion of what a client engagement should entail. I had been for years ‘casting around’ looking for something that gives the process a good structure and clarity. So I reworked it for my ‘ideal’ way to approach the client engagement process needed for my innovation work and made it into this visual.

Take a look below as my preferred way to approach innovation in any engagement.

The critical discovery phase I regard as vital

For me, the more you invest in the pre-contribution, the discovery phase, the higher likelihood of better results that meets both the ‘known’ and ‘unseen’ innovation issues. The problem or dilemma we all have engaging with clients is that ‘until the clock is running’ and we have a signed commitment, these investments in scoping are often (perhaps always) understated by the client, misunderstood by the advisor and no fees or solutions have been generated.

Nobody likes that but it is often a mistaken false economy.

Partly the client can  get too close to the (immediate) problem and can’t “see the forest for the trees,”often never recognizing the intangibles that make up so much of innovation. Also partly they don’t have the complete picture or don’t invest enough time themselves in thinking this through thoroughly enough before they seek external help.

On the advisory side, OK, we all have gone though (sometimes painfully) adjustments in scope but often those final proposals made without a proper discovery become a real sore spot by others within the organization, let alone within the clients. Also not knowing before you ‘jump’ in does not help build relationships or deliver the results expected

Also as an example, those with less vested interest in the result but only are responsible for the corporate procurement part, often like to judge the milestones against payments and apply sometimes their restricted knowledge against this suddenly ‘rigid’ (cast in stone) proposal, allowing for little flexibility.

The better the discovery phase, where ‘skin’ on both sides is in the frame, the better. You reduce conflicts and loss of time in any renegotiation and give more time to the project, not in justifying changes and the reason for increasing costs.

The argument for this pre-investment is more relevant for innovation work

My argument to overcome this is making a request, often as a ‘must have,’ of getting some client investment in Dollars or Euro’s for investing in a more robust “discovery” phase as shown below, in its two distinct parts. This becomes especially important for innovation as it can reveal much unseen or poorly recognized as that essential needed value to be the real difference in successful innovation or not. It can also offer real value to the client for evaluating alternatives and (revised) agenda setting for the  work going forward on a more complete view and clearer mandate of scoped work.

Agility’s ideal approach to the innovation client engagement process

Then and only then, you generate the scoping document and the clients attention, engagement, better identification of the places for return on investment and general satisfaction, rises significantly.

This process makes sense to me

Hopefully it does for you as well? As for the clients, well realistically it is sometimes a tough sell and you run the risk he takes the discovery and goes elsewhere. This would certainly not be the first time this happens, irrespective, unless you have some form of lock-in and I find MOU’s always should incorporate a clear mutuality in them to reduce this risk and allow for that greater horse power of combined intellectual property emerging from this discovery investment.

So it looks on first view complicated perhaps?

I think as you explore the stages of Discovery, Generation, Conversion, Diffusion & Acceptance its steps offer a clear client engagement roadmap and expectations can be managed through this. I feel it raises the confidence within the relationship.

Sadly I’ve lost the original one somewhere deep in my files, when I find it I’ll attribute this accordingly, as it gave much of the structure shown above and it just resonated with me. Sometimes switching computers messes the essential brain source!