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My Recent Re-dials to the Design Thinking

My Recent Re-dials to the Design Thinking

Thursday, March 22, 2012, 3:00 AM


Following the great inspirations for each and every new project that I’ve joined, I often go back and re-think the designs all over again even if the projects had ended.

I’ve noticed that this particular time I was following the Design Thinking phases in this  recent client engagement that happened to be a Public Sector client.

Great client with very pressing deadline, they needed to obtain a better access to FI-FM reconciliation process for their year end closing.  They were looking for customized report due to some SAP and database existing problems where standard reports were not usable.  Their request was to design the “one report” which happened to be the 60 pages CAFR Financial report but within public sector it means that Financial and Funds Management Modules would re-concile properly with AA-CO-MM-PM-PS applications as well.

Nevertheless, they wanted this report completed if possible within two weeks.

Sure, we love challenges like that because we know that SAP can produce exactly that and many other reports, but, if and only if, the system is properly configured, master data is created and properly structured, and transactions are harmonized with business process steps conducted in sequence to close their current year.

Well, within a few moments looking at their system, none of those pre-requisites were found.  In fact, they’ve downgraded the system which they’ve paid for the upgrade but within many components they’ve pulled out the OSS notes so they’ve decided to keep the old release and screen version instead within FI and other business components.   Meaning, appropriate tables and transactional data were not distributed where they had to be, so there was no resource that can come aboard to produce such report out of that system.

That was clearly communicated, and the BTM2 “heat map” was shown to the customer with identified pain points, and steps that need to take place and six phase IT approach, etc…  Customer  basically didn’t have time to look at our methods, and didn’t have the time for more discussions on this, and within two days of my diligent work and hard-core system integration analysis and high-value alternative thinking, I’ve received very positive recommendations that my knowledge and recommendations were “right on” but that they don’t have the time nor resources to dedicate further into it, as they were facing more pressing issues during the closing time where Excel designed reconcilation was their defaulted method.

Thinking back in retrospect – what could we do better?  Client clearly stated that they don’t have the time because of other more pressing issues.  Designing anything in two weeks without customer’s involvement, clear requirements,  understanding of their business processes and different posting practices, and without the initial workshop we cannot invest in nor make it possible.  Interesting situation, but it could be related to number of similar cusstomers.

As this project was

done, I still go back to think some more about it.  Furthermore, something about this client just keeps “popping up” in my head again.  This evening, I was looking at the design thinking phases (instead of listening to my kids fighting about some toys), and I’ve realized that consciously or subconsciously I’ve followed these exact Design Thinking steps in many of my “fast delivered” projects:

  • Scoping,
  • 360 Research,
  • Synthesis,
  • Ideation (I actually call this a PROPOSAL or PROPOSITION, INVITATION, etc..),
  • Prototyping,
  • Validation and
  • Implementation

In fact, these phased solutions and designs “come” spontaneously in play when we evaluate the issues and requirements.

I actually then realized that with this client and with such low interest, I couldn’t even pass thru all the phases of the Design Thinking process, before they’ve actually completely had to depart with their busy schedule and more pressing issues.  In fact, I am rationalizing now our communications and that point of view, with all the power of the Design Thinking it would be impossible to “partner” any better with this situation.

In such examples with our clients, we didn’t even introduce the Idea Phase of the Design Thinking, we’ve just completed some minimal scoping and research with some preliminary synthesis given, and client had to leave this requirement undone for now.

Maybe we can relate this to something similar in dating or kid’s training:  If the person is not interested, the Design Thinking phases would not be executed entirely.  This approach doesn’t even work for more then first two phases to occur, and the new and modified approach should be considered in the future for these types of quick engagements.  The good thing about this project is that I’ve offered to do this analysis first before I’ve traveled to the customer so no additional costs were generated for preliminary analysis.

Therefore I’ve concluded:  Until the pre-requisite of TIME element is given, the listening would not occur or last, unless there is a extra desire and passion for something created.

Currently, we don’t have the way of managing client’s desire and passion phases,  other then providing better sales and marketing or media examples.  We either excuse that rejection with “no time” or in cases with our children in our school systems, we often associate that lack of egagement to an ADHD factor. 

In either case it is important to address that “missing” phase and component – which brings me to the topic that in our Design Thinking practice we are actually missing one phase which is “Creating the Desire or Acceptance, Agreement with Passion”, and then constructing the rest of Ideas, Proposals, etc…

So, here I propose that we re-think our Design Thinking scenarios, and to re-design and to capture this importance of  “Desire and Passion Factor” which it could be fully required for helping many of our customers and also our schools and other organizations as well.

Would that also have something to do with our sluggish economy and children failing our school systems?

Let’s be more passionate in all we do! 

Alexandra Weber

SAP IBC Delivery

Certified Business Process Expert Consulta

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