Aiming For Innovation: Living Design in a Business World

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Information about Aiming For Innovation: Living Design in a Business World

Published on December 12, 2009

Author: bmevans



Co-presented with Krista Sanders ( at the BayCHI December 2009 meeting. Here's the abstract:

In this session we will talk about design thinking and how it relates to software product development in general, and to HCI design in particular. We will also explore the values and methods of strategic ideation and see how they can be applied in various real life/real work situations.

Working in a product development environment we often find ourselves grappling with tricky, squirrelly problems. Requirements are often vaguely defined and frequently change as new information emerges about the market, our competitors, etc. How do we design for the right solution when objectives are unclear and requirements are shifting? Moreover, how do we get all the stakeholders to agree on the same outcomes?

A traditional business approach might dictate the use of logic and a clearly defined process such as a SWOT analysis to build parity, while a design thinking approach might consider the end user’s goals and seek out an innovative solution that aptly fulfills their needs. This presentation will show that the two solutions become more effective when combined, and offer an optimal solution that adheres to both user and business requirements.

Aiming for Innovation: Living Design in a Business World BayCHI :: December 8, 2009 presented by: Brynn M. Evans Krista Sanders

Dr. Charles Burnette “Design Thinking is a process of creative and critical thinking that allows information and ideas to be organized, decisions to be made, situations to be improved, and knowledge to be gained.” This quote captures the essence of what design thinking is. We’ll be focusing today on this marriage of creative and critical thinking, and how businesses can benefit from this.

58 billion paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S. According to Global Green USA. Source: Nate Beaty Let’s start with a basic illustration of a squirrely, wicked problem (no clear definition, conflicting stakeholders, different priorities, never really know when you’re done): The problem is that there’s a huge amount of paper cup waste. -58 billion paper cups each year in the U.S, which are mostly non-recyclable (because of wax lining on the interior). How do you solve this problem?

1) SWOT 2) Prioritize 3) Business plan 4) Execute Source: h p://www. A typical business approach might go something like this: 0) start with the root of the problem – the paper cup 1) perform a SWOT analysis: identifying the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats among competitors 2) prioritize list of features to match best competitors (parity) 3) think up a business plan 4) execute

Solution? paper “I am not a paper cup…” h p:// And the end result might look something like this lovely porcelain masterpiece? It looks like a paper cup, but it’s not a paper cup. OK, great. So we have a new cup design.

KeepCup Solution? Hot coffee. Cool Planet. h p:// Or there’s this: the Keep Cup! Kind of looks like a piece of candy –- cute, right. Oh, and you can special order one with your favorite color combinations.

BYO cup Solution? Saving the planet, one coffee at a time.. h p:// One more: the BYO cup! This comes in three lovely shades of paper cup and three sizes. And again, kind of looks like a paper cup. (I always ask myself: What is the interest in mimicking the look and feel of the paper cup so closely?) The biggest problem with all three of these “so called solutions” is that they merely incremental improvements over the paper cup — not that different from other reusable mugs — and fail to address the root cause of the problem.

The problem runs deep Source: Ernst Vikne The problem actually runs deep. Reusuable mugs implicate the customer in the transaction, when it’s coffee shops, conference centers, office buildings, etc., that continue to provide paper cup offerings as the default. The burden of change should not remain exclusively on the consumer. Thus, to solve for this problem, we have to think beyond SWOT analysis to the larger institution of coffee drinking. We have to understand the ecosystem in which coffee is served and consumed.

Morning routine. Source: holas84 For starters, everyone has a morning routine, which typically involves brewing a pot of coffee and enjoying it with the newspaper (in a ceramic mug!). But a good number of people take an extra cup with them on the road...

Commuting culture. Source: Terence T.S. Tam and Jory Or stop along the way at Starbucks, Pete’s, Happy Donut, McDonald’s... Our commuting culture promotes on-the-go coffee drinking, and these coffee institutions play right into that convenience factor.

Coffee culture is social Source: h p://www. Additionally, coffee drinking is a social affair! People often go out to get coffee with their coworkers in the middle of the afternoon or with their friends after school. Out shopping at the mall for the holidays! All these things happen outside of a normal routine. Which is again why paper cups are so convenient. You never know when this social opportunity might crop up — and let’s be honest, travel mugs are big, clunky, and ugly.

Paper cup waste is a symptom According to Global Green USA. Source: Nate Beaty Now that we’ve poked around in the problem space, we’ve learned that: our problem is no longer a problem of paper cup waste. Paper cup waste is a merely a symptom of a much deeper problem that coffee drinking happens in a complicated social ecosystem. Redesigning a single cup won’t solve this problem. A real solution will involve redesigning the entire system.

Problem Space 1. Understand 2. Point of View • user behaviors • pick a problem and context • identify all the • take a slice factors/players that’s relevant, in a system useful, interesting • explore their • explore that requirements, problem from constraints, alternative expectations perspectives† † For a different perspective, see h p:// To tie this into the design thinking process, we’ve been exploring the problem space of the paper cup problem. This is essential for understanding the situation and looking at it from different points of view. Tim Brown reminds us that: “you must understand culture and context first before you even know where to start to have ideas, before you ever begin brainstorming”

Problem Space Solution Space 1. Understand 2. Point of View 3. Ideate 4. Prototype 5. Iterate • user behaviors • pick a problem • brainstorm • sketch • inspect and and context adapt • mockup • identify all the • take a slice • explore • reframe factors/players that’s relevant, alternatives, • build in a system useful, possibilities, choices • redefine interesting • test • explore their • explore that • evaluate • reprioritize requirements, problem from constraints, alternative • replan expectations perspectives The other part of design thinking is to understand the solution space: ideate, prototype, and iterate (FAST!) “Finding a solution is about learning by making. That we’re not trying to think about what to build, but that we use building in order to think” –Tim Brown

Problem Space Solution Space 1. Understand 2. Point of View 3. Ideate 4. Prototype 5. Iterate analytical intuitive These two phases show how the analytical, critical thinking and creative, intuitive thinking are both involved in the design thinking process.

analytical, deductive; + intuitive, abductive; + “configuration” Roger Martin, Rotman School of Management, author of: e Design of Business: Why Design inking is the Next Competitive Advantage Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Managment, emphasized this in his work. Design thinking requires some portion of analytical, some portion of intuitive, abductive thinking, and they need to be married together in what he calls the “configuration” phase. This is where business thinking comes in: Business thinking is required to get an actual product to market successfully, since designers aren’t trained in this. This shows how design thinking is really a holistic form of thinking about how to solve problems.

Jess McMullin “Good design... is at the intersection of business and human goals... it’s not just about users, and it's not just about business it's about balancing both.” This is a great quote that supports this notion.

Paula Thornton “Design thinking is not about solving design problems... it’s about solving problems with design.” h p://twi And the second quote, from Paula Thornton, reminds us that design thinking is about using design to solve problems, not about solving design problems.

60% of prescription-drug users have taken medication incorrectly. According to a recent poll conducted for Target. Source: Jessica Shapiro h p:// In our next example, we want to illustrate a complete problem to solution cycle which illustrates design thinking in action. How do we solve this problem, that people are taking their medications incorrectly? What is the root cause of this problem? Are users not receiving adequate training? Are the pills not distinct enough? Is the error in the pill bottles? Labels too small to read? Debra Adler did her master’s thesis on this problem.

Observation Source: Davies + Starr h p:// Let’s examine the pill bottles themselves. Everything is competing for the user’s attention: Inconsistent labeling. Branding trumps all. Confusing numbers. Poor color combinations. Curved shape is hard to read. Tiny type. It’s easy to see that this labeling may be causing people to take medication incorrectly. Why has no one addressed this design? It turns out that, other than a child safety lid (added in the 70’s), the overall design has remained unchanged since World War II.

What’s changed since WWII? h p:// But a lot has changed since WWII! We now have cell phones, TV, Internet, Cars, fancy aircraft, and we sent a few people to outer space — no biggie. Yet no one had taken on the pill bottle. Eh, priorities, right?

Prototyping “ If it doesn’t make sense, it’s art. – Andy Warhol Adler’s first redesign was antique-looking and ornate. It was beautiful, but not functional and didn’t solve the real problem people were having. We have to keep in mind that function over form is what’s important in good design, and design for the behavior you’re trying to support, enhance, or modify.

The Solution? Source: Davies + Starr h p:// She eventually changed the bottle packaging in several important ways. She made a flat surface so that labels would be easier to read, and she applied basic rules of design to the label (proximity, size, color, whitespace). Additionally, she introduced color-coded rings for different members of the family, to help prevent accidentally taking someone else’s medication. While this looks like product-only solution on the surface — much like the travel mug redesigns — it became much more than that.

Don’t we already know our users? Enter business thinking Target soon approached her and wanted to integrate her solution with their pharmacy. This decision required a number of business considerations along with a systems-wide change. Some of these changes included training employees on the new product, introducing a new label printer, manufacturing new pill bottles, etc.... This is a great example of the “configuration” phase Roger Martin was talking about. And sure enough, Target’s pharmaceutical drug sales increased 14% in the next year.

Business User Goals Requirements What’s interesting is that Target’s business decision to change was driven by Adler’s innovative design — driven by the user’s needs. You can imagine that a very different solution would have been reached if Target had started with business requirements and tried to work towards a user solution instead.

Richard Bolland & Fred Collopy “When we couple design process experts with business content experts, we create a capacity to envision and realize futures that are both desirable for people and viable for organizations.” Bolland and Collopy capture this nicely in their quote: “When we couple design process experts with business content experts, we create a capacity to envision and realize futures that are both desirable for people and viable for organizations.”

“ Tim Brown “Put simply, [design thinking] uses a designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” Same with Tim Brown: “Put simply, [design thinking] uses a designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”

Other Examples Source: h p:// Up until now, we’ve been talking about design thinking as applied to product development. But it can go beyond that. This video shows a radical new approach to protesting: protesters realized that typical protests invoked the “mob versus everyone else” mentality, and that the mob usually loses. Instead, what’s the goal of a protest? To inform people of an opinion or point of view. Why not try a different approach? This protest makes protesting fun and strives to educate instead of teach.

Challenges in a business world Source: Stefano Corso Hopefully this resonates with you, and that you already practice elements of design thinking in your own work. Of course, there are challenges in a business world.

User experience can be compartmentalized Source: Richard Yuan We know that user experience teams can often be siloed away from product, engineering, or design teams.

And locked into hierarchies Source: Giant Ginkgo And that hierarchical organizations can make it hard to get new ideas approved.

Getting started Source: Dhanesh Ramachandram So while we cannot provide a formula to help you, we can give a few tips for getting started.

Until it becomes clear, ask why Source: Guy Mayer Take the time to ask WHY; Be sure to fully explore the problem space before moving to the possible solutions.

Think beyond tasks Source: Andrew Carr The user’s journey starts long before they click that button or start that task. If this woman is having a miserable, cold experience on a pier 10 minutes before she becomes your user tester, that will absolutely influence her experience with your product.

Sketch, Prototype, Iterate, Move Fast! Sketch, prototype, and iterate fast! When you have a good idea, mock it up and give it to your users for feedback! Go through as many ideas as you can — and certainly don’t limit ideas in the early phases of ideation.

Encourage visual thinking Work in a visual way to think about problems from other perspectives.

Create design walls Source: If you put your ideas on a design wall, people will come by to talk to you about it! It’ll be like your own private water cooler.

Take a new perspective Source: h p:// ing-perspective/ And if you still get stuck, take a new perspective. Try thinking about your design problem from the object’s perspective!

What other problems could benefit from a design thinking approach? Here are a few ideas we came up with: - Solar panels, Wind farms, Search, Customer Relations Management (CRM), the lending system, health care, Microsoft ;)

Aiming for Innovation: Living Design in a Business World BayCHI :: December 8, 2009 presented by: Brynn M. Evans Krista Sanders / @brynn / @newhighscore Thank you!

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