How can Design Centric Thinking help your business take the leap from idea to prototype in a matter of weeks?

Have you ever found yourself sitting in a workshop with a bunch of others trying to ‘ideate or innovate’ to solve a business problem or create a new product or service for your organisation?

Normally these sessions are highly interactive with great energy and inspiration and skilled facilitators. However, what happens next is more often than not akin to deflating your tires after pumping them up – the car remains parked.

Too often the brainstorms result in a list of ideas that post-workshop remain just that – ideas without any impetus to turn them into results.

The Idea Parking Lot

Quay looked into what we saw as a systemic issue and we identified a common thread. Whilst the ideation process is often exciting and creative, it often lacks a supporting process to ‘productionise’ the ideas.

What happened next? The ideas sat in an ideas parking lot and over time people became less interested in the ideation process as few tangible outcomes are realised.

From Standstill to the Freeway

We realised that rapid change and innovation is the key to a successful business in the current marketplace particularly in the digital world, so we looked at how to overcome the ‘flat tyre syndrome’ and move the car out of the parking lot and onto the freeway.

Along came Design Centric Thinking.

Like Big Data, Design Centric Thinking means different things to different people, however at its core is a facilitated, collaborative and highly visual, intense process the focuses on solving a complex problem.

The goal is the creation of a rapid prototype that can be tested in the marketplace – the process does not stop at the idea but extends through to the prototype testing.

Agree on the Problem and Build the Prototype

Before the design begins, a group of cross-sectional stakeholders are brought together to agree on what the problem is that is to be solved and if solved who will be most impacted.

The solutioning then focuses on the needs of those most impacted. The rapid (iterative) prototyping, as a rule, builds out the minimum features required to generate a real benefit for those stakeholders. If the prototype is successful, then it can be developed upon and enhanced over time.

Switch the Hats of Designers and Business People

Design thinking is a way to get business people to think like designers and designers to think like business people. It is typically characterised as a step-by-step process that’s made sexy with the help of multiple whiteboards, multi-coloured pens, designers, music and a well thought out plan to move the teams through the process (optimum is 8 groups of 8 people).

The keys to success are in preparation and planning. Great care needs to be taken in preparing for a design “event” including:

  • Clearly identifying the sponsorship, the stakeholders and the segmentation of the event to ensure that momentum is sustained and
  • Identifying right stakeholder mix is achieved across the groups.

Attention to detail is critical. Make sure the environment morphs as required to match the event. For example, having small spaces with whiteboards for group breakouts that can then combine into large spaces for ‘report outs’ back to the extended group at large supports the flow and ensures that the event runs well.

Think of it as planning an event as that is exactly what it is. These design events normally run from 1-3 days however there is a good 5-7 days of effort in planning and wrap up.

Focus on the Prototype as the End Game

Remember: the end game is a prototype that is tested, not just an idea, so there needs to be a very clear path from conceptual design to physical product or service. In this regard your “builders” need to be a part of the process and often will iterate the build during the process such that a prototype is already built or there is a clear plan for it (including an agreed plan on the testing and what constitutes success) otherwise you will run the risk of a flat tyre!

Our research indicates that those companies that adopt this approach have taken their idea to a prototype project down from 6-12 months to a matter of weeks. This is a significant increase in speed to market, reduction on cost and a fail-fast mantra. Companies who are leading the way in the adoption of Design Centric Thinking include Telstra, CBA, Sydney Trains and IAG.

If you suffer the flat tyre syndrome or lengthy delays to getting things done, we recommend you have a chat with us about how we can apply this approach to helping you solve those complex problems in rapid time with real results.

As project specialists, we develop fit-for-purpose strategy.  Contact us here to find out more about how we work with your teams or call 02 9098 6300.

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About Quay

Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...