In October 2016 we held our first ‘Design in Business’ course in Melbourne in partnership with DesignChain. The course, authored by Craig Martin and Helen Palmer, looks to take Design Thinking and apply it in a business context, both in terms of solving real-world business problems but also in a way that can be integrated within mainstream disciplines such as Business Planning, Architecture and Analysis.
Design Thinking is certainly one of the hot topics for Business Executives around the world, and many are no doubt trying to work out if a) they should be doing it and b) whether they can get tangible value from it. At the end of the course I was presented with the opportunity to look at Design Thinking from these two lenses and put these questions into action. Playing the role of a Business Executive, I analysed the three groups’ final presentations and reviewed their Design Concepts they had generated in response to the Case Study brief that they received on Day 1 of the course. I wanted to make sure that my analysis would be relevant to any real world applications so I felt it was important to get into the mindset of the type of Stakeholder that the groups could expect to encounter back in their organisations.
I was genuinely surprised and extremely impressed with the quality of the outputs that they had managed to pull together during the course of the week. All three groups gave strong presentations on the solution that they had created and after taking in all of the presentations, there were 5 key things that I took away about the Design in Business process that they had been through:
- The solutions (outputs) were all Viable, Feasible and Desirable and had clearly been designed with these 3 key pillars in mind.
- All the solutions were customer-focused. The groups had clearly understood and identified challenges and problems that their target customers were facing. They were not tackling a business problem from the business perspective; they were viewing the problem through the viewpoint of the customer.
- Innovation leads you down many different paths! All 3 groups had the same Case Study Brief but the direction they took and the solutions that they ended up with were all in stark contrast to one another.
- There were tangible outputs at the end of the Design Process. I was concerned that the outputs wouldn’t have the level of detail and rigour needed to have a meaningful conversation with the business about taking their concept forward but I was wrong. The outputs were all thorough, robust and detailed enough to move to the next phase in delivery.
- The level of practicality in everything that was created was very high. The outputs were actionable and tangible and ‘real’ and were formulated in a way that other business functions would be able to take and move forward with.
I left the room that afternoon with a much clearer idea of how the tools and techniques covered in the course can not only fit in to, but also add significant value to, businesses that are looking to remain competitive in the world of business today. The things that I already knew were associated with Design Thinking such as human-centricity; empathy and innovation were all there. However it was the combination of these things with a level of rigour, practicality and integration to other disciplines that left me really enthused about the potential of this course to equip our attendees with a valuable set of skills to add to their toolkit.
For more information about the Design In Business Course, click here.