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Finding Success in Design Thinking

By: Bonnie Coté

Photo of a man and woman using a laptop computer

As we have covered previously, bringing Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, and Agile Methodology together is a powerful way for organizations to accelerate the achievement of customer-centric results across a variety of environments.

Below, we explore three innovative ways to leverage Design Thinking and user experience (UX) expertise to develop creative solutions to common challenges in the retail, medical device, and government sectors. These are but a few of the many ways you can level-up customer products or services by applying Design Thinking and UX in a strategic, well-informed manner.

Challenge: To drive sales and boost brand loyalty, retailers must strive to provide customers with optimal digital shopping experiences. Many customers are discouraged from making a purchase by an unintuitive site or clunky checkout process. A retailer may lose a great deal of business if, for instance, customers are unclear as to how to search for the products they want, or if it takes a dozen clicks to get from a login page to checkout.

As such, it is critical for retailers to craft user interfaces (UI) that deliver intuitive, easy-to-use functionality and streamline the flow of the online shopping experience. Doing so often requires not only aligning marketing, sales, and IT teams around a shared vision but continuously incorporating feedback from various stakeholders to facilitate rapid iteration on the design of a site’s ordering flow.

Solution: A retailer can enhance the functionality of its site by leveraging Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, UX best practices, and competitor research in a cohesive way. By incorporating both internal stakeholder and customer feedback into its current ordering flow, a retailer can create medium-fidelity mockups of custom web pages that streamline the entire checkout process — from “login” all the way through “order confirmation.”

This can help a retailer minimize unnecessary clicks within its ordering flow and eliminate extraneous information from product pages. It can also lead to a simpler UI with a sleeker, more modern design that enhances customers’ shopping experiences through features that make purchasing quicker and easier, including:

  • Auto-fill capability
  • Smart product search
  • Saved customer preferences
  • Recommended products
  • Dashboard quick links
  • Ability to “favorite” items
  • Bulk order processing

Results: By reenvisioning customers’ shopping and checkout experiences, a retailer has the opportunity to:

  • Define its vision by aligning stakeholder and customer requirements.
  • Quickly iterate in a flexible prototyping environment with zero development cost.
  • Design a user-friendly UI that simplifies and streamlines its ordering flow.
  • Reduce the total number of clicks in the purchasing process by up to 45 percent.
  • Customize pages to meet customers’ needs and visual requirements so that time and resources are not wasted on costly upfront development.

Challenge: Delivering effective employee training is one of the most impactful ways medical device companies can ensure they remain compliant with all pertinent regulations. Many conventional processes for doing so are unable to keep pace with the influx of new procedures and regulations on which employees at today’s medical device companies must be briefed. This leads to employees becoming overburdened with unnecessary or outdated training assignments, which in turn compromises these employees’ productivity.

Consequently, it is incumbent upon medical device companies to identify employees’ and managers’ pain-points, develop new ideas for evolving employee training, and prioritize solutions that have the potential to improve compliance through the achievement of better safety outcomes.

Solution: By focusing on the “Define” and “Ideate” steps of the Design Thinking process, medical device companies are able to develop a genuine understanding of the issues employees encounter within existing training regimens. These steps of the process involve establishing several groups of participating stakeholders, giving everyone Post-It notes and markers with which to document pain-points, and categorizing these pain-points into overarching themes such as “lack of training resources” or “ineffective and outdated training content.”

Once these themes have been crystallized, participants are divided into groups to brainstorm solutions to the challenges encompassed by each theme. This brainstorming may generate dozens of potential solutions, including everything from industry best practices to entirely novel ideas. Eventually, these solutions are strategically sorted using a prioritization matrix like the one pictured below. Organizing potential solutions in this way help medical device companies identify high-value options that would be feasible to put into practice.

Results: By working collaboratively to identify the highest-value, most actionable solutions to common training pain-points, a medical device company has the opportunity to:

  • Develop a prioritized backlog of dozens of potential solutions for future consideration.
  • Avoid wasting time and resources on initiatives that do not add value.
  • Create a strong business case for customer-centric solutions.
  • Advocate for — and, ultimately, secure — increased funding for training programs.

Challenge: The core challenge most governments face is one of scale, namely, identifying and implementing solutions that work for as many public sector employees — and, by extension, for as many citizens — as possible. Once it has deployed a successful pilot project, a government must strive to establish a self-sustaining community of practice to support multiple and/or larger-scale initiatives moving forward.

Solution: By establishing repeatable, streamlined processes, a government can create a Rapid Prototyping and Customer Experience Lab (and a supporting governance structure) that enables it to scale its successful pilot projects across its entire organizational infrastructure. This approach involves defining the people, processes, and technologies that are necessary to scale a self-sustaining community of practice, as well as delivering training, coaching, and mentoring to employees across the government. The government must also embed Rapid Prototyping best practices into its Agile project environment. Following these steps ensures this occurs as efficiently as possible:

Results: By standing up a well-designed Rapid Prototyping and Customer Experience Lab, a government has the opportunity to:

  • Accelerate product launches by 20 to 40 percent.
  • Manage multiple Rapid Prototyping projects simultaneously.
  • Achieve long-term strategic goals like improving customer service.
  • Shorten its feedback loop from several days to several hours — or often to near-real-time.
  • Reduce application rework by 60 to 80 percent.

Could any of these use cases be applied to your organization? The short answer is, “Absolutely.” Design Thinking, Rapid Prototyping, and Agile Methodology can facilitate the creation and/or improvement of any customer-centric product or service, even if you are not yet sure what you — or your customers — need most.

Bonnie Cote

Bonnie Coté

Managing Director

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