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Creating teamwork together with Design Thinking 

April 22, 2020

Best to test was the motto of our last team event. It was about using the Design Thinking method for team collaboration. Many of our colleagues (presales, consultants, project managers) from Technical Services were already familiar with this method from the idea generation process in product development. And so everyone was curious to see how Design Thinking can be applied to the design of team collaboration.  Translated with (free version)

Specific preparation with a business game  

Using an example, the participants were familiarized with the method. In the so-called "Wallet Project" the development of a new type of wallet suitable for everyday use was specified.

In small groups, problems with conventional wallets and requirements for "the perfect purse" were compiled. These were then presented to all other participants, resulting in a long list of problems and requirements. Afterwards, the requirements were clustered and evaluated by the entire group. The individual parts did not take longer than 15 minutes. Based on this, the small groups created their prototype in another 15 minutes and then presented it to the entire group. The best idea was selected jointly. This was done in no time at all.

From problem analysis to the first prototype

Now we had to translate what we had learned into our task. The goal of our business game was to improve the cooperation between teams.  

Thus we concretized the topics related to the problem definition again in small groups with the help of interviews and exchange. The results were documented on sticky notes and presented to the entire group. Even at this early stage, it became clear that similar findings existed in the different groups - but in some cases, completely new aspects were added.

The many different individual topics were then clustered together in the large group. Subsequently, it was evaluated which ideas should be used for improvement. We democratically agreed on the most important issues and, based on this, we compiled the ideas for prototyping.  

Most important to all was the further work on the issues of "sharpening the service portfolio offered" and "strengthening the understanding of roles in the department" in order to create a basis for the standardization of processes.

The prototype

As a prototype, a checklist should first be drawn up listing all formal and informal details of a customer project for presales, consulting and project management. This creates smooth transitions between the phases from lead generation to billing.

For successful collaboration, it is also important to define roles for the individual team members and make them transparent. In addition, it must be clear to everyone which tasks need to be completed at which points in the process. This topic was worked on in another workshop. 

Our conclusion

The time slot of a few hours is very short for developing new approaches, but all the more intensive. However, the Design Thinking method is ideally suited to taking in the needs of all participants with all the details, developing a common focus and then developing creative solutions to the complex problem. By testing further prototypes in fixed deadlines, we will achieve our goals step by step.  

Design Thinking - the method used to generate ideas in product development - can be wonderfully used to develop creative approaches in a structured way even for complex problems in completely different areas, and thus generate innovative solutions in a short time.

Design Thinking – the fast way to usable results

In general, Design Thinking involves the following steps:

  1. Define the Problem - The first step is to identify the problem and make it comprehensible to all parties involved.
  2. Needfinding & Synthesis - The next step is to identify the needs, views and emotions of the people for whom the solution is being developed.
  3. Ideas - After the problem and needs analysis, the insights gained are structured. The aim is to first gather as many ideas as possible. The most promising idea is then used for further development.
  4. Prototyping & Test - During the subsequent creation of the first prototype, care must be taken to meet only the most important requirements and to visualize the idea. In the test phase, the entire team evaluates the prototype, collects feedback and identifies starting points for further improvements. If necessary, the process then starts all over again.

Design Thinking is characterized by constant reflection and is guided by four principles: 

  1. Human centered
    Everyone should get involved - everyone will be heard. New ideas are built on the ideas of others. This creates new impulses as well as a common understanding and commitment to the solution.
  2. Failure culture
    Fail early and often! Errors are desirable - because by allowing errors already in the development process, ideas can be developed into solutions.
  3. Make and prototype
    The rapid development of prototypes makes results quickly tangible. They can be tested and evaluated quickly - making complexity easier to manage.
  4. Agility
    The team is always on the move: After exploring and reflecting, there is always an action for the design thinker. Through constant reflection, new insights are quickly created and tested again.

Our authors have very different professions and come from different areas and locations of Sycor. All write from their personal point of view and from their personal experiences.

Lisa Hartmann

TS Project Management

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