Guitar.jpg Design Thinking and Music
Design Thinking is widely used to solve wicked problems and design user centered solutions.

In this context Design Thinking is almost like music. When you start learning to play the guitar you’ll instantly see that most rockbands use a special type of chord, called the “power-chord”. This chord consists of only three tones which basically is the minimum of tones you need for a chord, yet it sounds very powerful. The power-chord needs three tones to sound good, Design Thinking needs the three tones “Desirability, Viability and Feasibility” to develop something outstanding. However one chord alone doesn’t make a great song but indeed it often only needs to or three of these to write the next hit. In Design Thinking the iterations that are applied throughout the process ensure outcome and validation oriented results. This combination of tones and number of chords makes the overall solution to a problem sound great and meaningful to suppliers and consumers.

What’s the Challenge in DT Engagements?

After years and an many, many Design Thinking inspired engagements, we frequently felt that the “Desirability” aspect is a prominent part of (especially shorter) DT engagements whereas “Feasibility” and “Viability” apparently need a dedicated strum on your guitar or otherwise they won’t be heard.

As a matter of fact we’ve assembled a multidisciplinary team consisting of DT coaches, Business Developers, Consultants, Project Managers, Implementers and Researchers to identify how the three tones of Design Thinking can be best played in a slick project setup.

And besides Design Thinking there are a lot of other approaches to learn from. As a result, this idea is about defining a Design Thinking inspired Innovation Project Methodology that encompasses elements from start-up approaches, lean, scrum and of course DT and more classical project management techniques.

A Blog Series about how to run DT inspired Projects
With this blog we kick of a blog series where different contributors describe certain elements of the concept. We try to cover the full range from theory and background, to explaining the concept and elements as well as to share project insights about how we’ve applied the methodology in real life.
This blog explains the overall concept of the approach. Besides this one you can expect the following blog articles from the following authors:


But how to play that DT Song?

When talking about music, and now talking about DT we also need to talk about waves. Every sound or noise we hear can be represented by a wave. This concept led us to the thinking that maybe a wave might help us to find a good representation of the concept on how to ensure Desirability, Feasibility and Viability is considered during an engagement. Here on the left comes version 1.

The figure reminded us of a roller coaster, in fact DT sometimes feels like one when it takes you out of your comfort zone, however in this case we also built a more structured picture to show the concept. Hence, the following figure shows the different building blocks needed to get the sound of your DT engagement right.

DT inspired Project Methodology 2.JPG
The concept consists basically of six building blocks. At the bottom you can see the (rough) assignment of the building blocks to the different tones of DT (Desirability, Viability, Feasibility). We’ve added “Delivery” to emphasize an outcome driven and value generating approach. Of course the three tones aren’t disjunct and the boarders are fluid, but the concept shows this relationship that is needed to not forget something. All phases underlie iterations and include short implementation sprints.

Problem Statement
It starts with the definition of the problem statement together with the customer and vendor. There are several techniques to define this which will be explained in a future blog.

Design Thinking Workshop
The initial DT workshop has several objectives. Of course it is about understanding the problem space and ideating and designing the solution space. But there is more to it, which we call positive side effects. These include a very special form of a kick-off, to learn DT if needed, build group momentum and buy-in for the potential project. Design Thinking can be applied in many different flavours, some of these are mentioned in the slide above.

Minimal viable Product
Often, the teams design a visionary but also complex future state on how a solution to a challenge could look like. It is needed to decompose this vision and prototype into a minimal viable product and user stories, which are a consistent and usable starting point for users and suppliers. It lays the foundation of the first implementation sprint that surely starts an exciting journey.

Backlog Requirements
Leveraging SCRUM techniques, the minimal viable product and user stories get further decomposed into requirements. The requirements can be prioritized and serve as an input for the subsequent implementation sprint.

Implementation Sprint
Short implementation sprints allow the team to build something meaningful without the need of complex blueprints. Working prototypes help to validate the solution further with potential users. This input is used to initiate another iteration of the approach.

Project Scoping and Planning
Once decided that an idea should turn into a project, there are DT inspired techniques that help to design the project plan comprising activities, deliverables, time dependencies, resource requirements, stakeholder management. This building block is part of the iterative cycle, therefore the design of the minimal viable product and the prioritization and selection of requirements for the implementation sprint impact the project planning.

We will provide further details about each building block in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned, at the same time we’re very much interestedin your feedback, what’s your experience?

For now, we wish you and your family and friends all the best for 2015 and beyond.

Kind regards,

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