Design Thinking For Project Success
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- Avoid common traps that result in projects running late, over budget, and failing to meet original intentions.
- Follow the example of companies like IBM, Tesla and Apple to apply Design Thinking to product and service design.
- Make products and services human centred, truly making a valuable improvement in users' and customers' lives.
- Apply Design Thinking to projects even in a culture where Design Thinking is misunderstood.
- Distinguish between Design Thinking and related approaches to projects like Lean Startup and Agile.
- Recognize situations where project goals need to be better understood before detailed project plans are initiated.
- An interest in producing products and services that are not just creative but have a direct positive impact on customers, clients and users.
“We’re living in a world right now where disruption is constant and the pace of change is unrelenting. We can’t simply manage what is known, we actually have to lead into the unknown.” Sara Kalick, Leadfully VP and General Manager
The faster the world changes, the less likely the assumptions made at the beginning of a project will survive to the end.
Design Thinking is an ideal tool for cultivating the flexibility and awareness to keep projects on track to produce something truly useful.
- Anyone who leads projects as an entrepreneur or within an organization.
To say that the pace of change is constantly increasing was a cliché a long time ago and it’s only more true now. We definitely live in interesting times. Whether that is a curse or a blessing depends on us and our ability to contribute to the production of novel and desired products and services.
This creates unprecedented opportunity but also unprecedented risk to our existing jobs and organizations.
Innovation is the answer to this challenge. Innovation paves the way for that abundant future. As individuals and organizations, we need to be innovative, which means making useful changes.
This is precisely what Design Thinking can help us do. Design Thinking can help you and your organization embrace and thrive amidst rapid change.
At the end of this course, you will be able to spot and avoid many of the traps that cause projects to be late, over budget and off target. Using Design Thinking, you will involve the user throughout the development of a product or service to improve execution speed and minimize waste.
In this course I will explore how Design Thinking contributes to project success.
This course is about how Design Thinking can contribute to Project Management. In this section we’ll look at Project Management itself.
What is project management? So why do so many projects fail? What is scope creep and what are its root causes?
This will set the stage for the next sections of this course, where I link Design Thinking to Project Management.
"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail."
This line of thinking can imply that the first step in any endeavour is a plan.
The two flaws in this line of thinking are the assumptions that you know exactly what the outcome of the project of the plan should be and that you know exactly how to bring about that outcome. For most projects that are truly innovative, neither of these conditions are true.
If a project takes too long, people come and go. New facts emerge. New technologies, new regulation, new competitors, new requirements. This makes scope creep almost inevitable. If your project can be divided up into smaller projects which allow iterative contact with users in between, success is easier.
The magic of Design Thinking is that it can reduce the uncertainty in both outcome and process by introducing this iterative contact.
Design Thinking is a simple concept.
Obsess about what the user will benefit from. Create a prototype product or service based on what you learn from the user - at minimum cost. Test that prototype
Then you iterate, or repeat the process, based on what you learn from the user.
Design thinking focuses on empathy and experimentation to create innovative solutions. It allows decisions to be based on what users really want without relying on gut instincts or evidence from the past.
The principles of Design Thinking have been applied to just about any field you can think of. Because of its widespread use, there are many models of Design Thinking available.
To illustrate Design Thinking, I will focus on the d.School model.
d.School is a Design Thinking institute at Stanford University. It is recognized as a thought leader in design thinking, which they describe as “a methodology for creative problem solving”.
It is possible to be a design company without embracing Design Thinking. Apple is an interesting case in this regard. Clearly it distinguishes itself from its competitors with a focused design esthetic.
The outstanding question is does it Use Design Thinking? Are they showing the necessary empathy for Design Thinking when they delete the microphone jack from an iPhone?
Tesla cars don’t have “model years”.
Tesla production follows a strategy of continuous improvement with somewhere between ten and twenty improvements being made to cars every week.
Tesla could have waited until all these features were already in place, but instead rushed the car to market - satisfying existing demand while still iterating to improve its product.
Design Thinking emphasizes iteration - returning to the end user to see if the developing product will meet their needs over and over. In contrast, the waterfall method is sequential and linear.
Waterfall remains the most popular project method. In this lecture we explore why, and the cost of relying on it too heavily.
Lean startup is another iterative method for development of products and services. The term was originally coined by Eric Ries (pronounced Reese) in 2008, who applied lean management principles to high-tech startups.
The technique is best applied to entrepreneurs or teams introducing new products or services.
Design Thinking is Human Centered - which is to say it keeps the user front and centre to ensure that what is created is truly useful.
In Design Thinking, the first step is to observe the user of the product or service you intend to provide or improve, so that you can develop a strong empathy with their needs.
Even this very first step can be a challenge, since the end-user is typically two or more steps removed from the project team.
An artillery piece has to be very carefully aimed to reach its target. A guided missile doesn’t have to be aimed as carefully because it continuously checks its aim and adjusts.
Artillery is great if your target is staying still. By analogy project management is great when the assumptions up front can be assumed to hold true for the duration of the project
Design Thinking is like the seeker on a missile, keeping your project locked on the desired outcome, even as that outcome is in motion.
Design thinking is both a process and a culture. In this section I will be looking at how you can champion design thinking in your organization.
An innovative organization needs to distinguish between certainty and uncertainty and act accordingly, not stubbornly assuming that the answer is always a detailed, inflexible plan.
Design Thinking isn’t complicated, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Design Thinking means starting without an end-to-end project plan
This can be unsettling to the experienced Project Manager and to upper management. In this lecture we look for ways to move forward with Design Thinking while still respecting the sense of rigour that accompanies project management.
The recommendations embedded in Design Thinking are common sense.
Consult those you seek to serve. Provide tangible, low-cost examples of your current thinking for them to comment on. Improve the product incrementally. Repeat.
The shorter the plan, the higher likelihood of success.
Thank you for choosing this course and for pursuing it right to the end
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