Throughout the fast-paced workshop, “Using Design Thinking to Drive Speed, Innovation, and Alignment in Partnering” at the Sept. 7-9, 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston, ASAP board member Jan Twombly, CSAP, and her partner at The Rhythm of Business, Bentley University business professor Jeff Shuman, Ph.D., CSAP, focused on real-life scenarios biopharma alliance teams encounter, such as partnering with multiple partners, non-asset based alliances, and partnering with other sectors that run on much faster clock speeds than is typically seen in biopharma.
“If the end goal is ‘getting there’ despite these complexities, whatever ‘getting there’ has been determined to be will set off an exhaustive testing and learning cycle in a high-uncertainty environment,” Shuman explained. For many, this may involve developing new cultural behaviors for the team, referred to as a “culture of creativity.” In the arts and design world, the expectation is that the process involves creation and change, where art forms of whatever medium are created and altered or edited in a series of steps considered native to the process. But because we operate in a more linear environment, one project or task at a time, the need to pivot and change direction may seem like a form of failure. For some, iteration does not come easy, yet it is integral to the ultimate success of a project.
In the “how” of “getting there,” the first step involves clarifying the motivations, perceptions and beliefs of stakeholders in the inspiration phase, engaging in a process of discovery and inquiry to hone in on the core question to answer. This is especially important when working with multiple partners because each team comes with its own set of corporate cultural values and language.
In working with a partner, Twombly emphasized, work within a framework of give-and-get thinking. “Look at their needs first, what is it you need to do to help them to get what they need, and they will do the same for you. Visualize success and how it is different than what has been done in the past. Then test the idea in a safe situation. Map it out, and role play as a test.”
Drawing from one of the “greatest hits” of business strategy, the workshop focus turned to techniques outlined in Google Ventures’ five-day sprint, which can be used to launch products and build services. The sprint gives a team a shortcut to learning, by starting with a journey or experience map where you map out a problem and pick a place to focus. In the case of biopharma and healthcare, the focus might be on how patients access a new product faster. Following the mapping phase, you brainstorm competing solutions. Next, you move on to making decisions and creating a testable hypothesis. Then comes a prototype, and finally, testing.
“Start with the end. What is the objective? Who are the players?” Jan and Jeff asked the gathering. Jan warned that in brainstorming, most don’t do it well. It’s important to stay focused on the question and come up with as many ideas as possible and then to prioritize.
Part III of our “Design in Pencil” story will discuss how to build an experience map for teams, grapple with issues that arise, and build iteration into the design thinking process.