Participants packed the “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” workshop at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, diving into the 90-minute session to gain insight into design thinking as an innovative strategy that can be applied to alliance management.
Though design as a way of thinking in the sciences was explored as early as the late 1960s, the approach was expanded on by Rolf Faste at Stanford University in the 1980s and 90s. Design thinking was adapted for business purposes by Faste's Stanford colleague, David M. Kelley, who in 1991 founded IDEO, which focuses on a human-centered approach to innovative, problem-solving solutions.
Led by ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University professor, Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, the interactive session drew from IDEO as well as an IBM model that can be adapted to help alliance management teams solve problems at the speed and scale today’s corporate world demands. The workshop was designed to provide participants with proven tools and techniques that can immediately be put to use to align operating processes—or to address any complex problem.
“When you know what you need to learn, you can get smart quickly,” Twombly stated as she explained how the design thinking process defines the problem and then uses the basic framework to arrive at desired customer process and outcomes. Implementation of the solution always involves the needs of the end user. However, iteration, the repetition of a process, is key to assessing outcomes and implementing change. And the iterations change as you begin to think smarter, she said.
“You need to identify assumptions, and then ID info that was derived from that assumption and decide if the assumption was good or bad. But do it in pencil,” Twombly warned the group. “Give yourselves the opportunity to change as needed. Take time out of the process to do this.”
Key points in assessing end user needs and gaining other stakeholders’ inputs:
- Interview with empathy, put stakeholders at ease, talk to invoke stories, give examples, and be specific.
- Question statements—repeat back what you’ve heard to arrive at “yes” in an agreement and move forward.
- Look for inconsistency and for nonverbal cues, such as, hesitation in a voice and areas that need to be worked through.
- Do not ask leading questions and don’t give them the answers—let them come up with the truth of how they think and feel.
- Find ways to work so you can be more efficient and effective.
Twombly cautioned that when working in tandem with another group, act as a joint think tank where you both develop a concept and don’t develop competing concepts in isolation and then fight over them. Think of how others might feel if the proposal they worked on, on their own, was roundly rejected. She then asked the participants grouped by tables to develop three questions that need to be asked of team member.
At this point in the workshop, Shuman began to actively work with the groups. The questions needed to look at “what we’ve experienced that gets at what was wrong with the process.” The purpose of the questions is to generate design strategy from design thinking. Questions developed by the groups included:
- What is frustrating about the ways we collaborate?
- What is the value of meetings?
- What about this process keeps you up at night?
- What do you think is working about the collaboration? What isn’t working?
- How do you feel the meeting is going? Be candid.
- What defines a great collaboration meeting? What does it accomplish?
“Use the questioning process to see what matters and then base your design on it,” Twombly said. “Ask why and how. It’s always good to gather data in pairs. One asks questions and one captures data. Order the answers in a series of needs statements, as in:
Question: Why do we need more efficient acceleration?
Answer: We need greater efficiency to drive the agenda, to get the product to the customer.
Question: If that is why, then how do we get there?
Stay tuned to the ASAP Blog for Part Two of our coverage of Twombly and Shuman’s design thinking workshop, as well as continued blog posts about other informative and provocative sessions that ASAP Media team covered during last week’s 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference at the Revere Hotel Boston Common.