Having worked in strategy consulting and developing innovation capability in tech organizations and healthcare I have come to realize that traditional design thinking methodologies need to evolve to address the current pressures businesses face. We need new ways to tackle the new issues we face.
Tangible output: Teams lack an active path to execution. Often I find that teams build big visions but lack the tools to develop clear roadmaps for making concepts real and bringing products and services to market while ensuring product-market fit.
Fast turnaround: There is a disconnect between the time it takes to conduct more traditional design research and strategy vs. the time pressure that startups and scrum teams face to deliver solutions that meet near-term business outcomes.
Efficiency: High-performance teams produce little waste. The fidelity of product and technical prototypes matches the phase of learning. We need to start building only what is necessary to validate at each stage of product development rather than launching a product that doesn't solve a deep problem.
Rapid progress: In my work I have led teams to develop a steel thread of the end-to-end system within 5 days. This is no superpower or technical feat, but a change in mindset. Instead of sequentially building perfected modules, teams can implement a “walking skeleton” - it might be duct tape and glue behind the curtain, but it lets a user walk through the product’s core activities and meet their most important desired outcomes. This shifts a team’s frame of reference from “we’re still building the system” to “now we’re just adding features”, and enables the team to more rapidly test assumptions and generate value.
Measurable impact: Design, strategy and innovation teams are pressed to provide more quantitative evidence that demonstrates the impact of their designs. This includes being more confident on what user problem we are solving as well as solving it in the right way.
Scalable infrastructure: I often see teams focused on one-off initiatives and constantly reinventing the wheels as far as tools and methods. I have found that there are a finite number of tested simple tools that teams can use over and over again without having to reinvent them. I believe in the power of operationalizing and standardizing these tools.
Human capital: In my career, I have experienced the power of helping organizations with an external point of view- coming into an organization with a fresh perspective, working on a project that is visionary and leaving the team to push through to execution. As an employee, I have experienced being on the other end and have come to realize that is much harder to then implement methods and tools at scale from within as well as change the culture so that innovation happens in everything we do every day.
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