When the Magic Starts
The magic starts to happen after our first warm up exercise. In this, we ask the team to do a little role playing by working through a challenge where they learn the design thinking process by assuming an identity we give them. We ask them to write out their fears and hopes, or in a similar exercise, what excites them or causes concern when faced with a new project – again, one that we’ve designed and given them to work from as a specific person in a role. Everything we do is designed to mirror real-life situations as much as possible.
By doing this three part exercise, they begin to understand how they’ll be working when we get to the user interview sessions. We want them to practice empathy with the users and we want them to understand the absolute necessity of establishing rapport with the users who come to talk to the core team – always lead by the Primary Interviewer – so that they will honestly and openly share their pains and challenges with us.
At a very recent boot-camp we saw a hesitant core team member completely turn around after he lead an interview session as Primary. He followed the blueprint as taught and every question gave him fresh new insight into the problems facing the analyst he was speaking to.
Ah Those Aha! Moments
And that’s what we’re looking for! We’re looking for those “aha!” moments when a person or team responsible for the creation of a mission critical application comes to the understanding that having this person to speak to as an ally is where educated guesses become truth and positive direction. And we see this in each and every session we do, especially the ones where we’ve been able to create a cross-functional team to work with. We put business and IT shoulder to shoulder. We show them how to look at the problem from many different angles and how to iterate visually, which is the way our brains work most effectively.
In some of these sessions we’ve had the teams we shoot for – 4-6 core team members from different areas of the company. In others we can only get one or two people to dedicate the time with us. We’ll turn these down if we don’t feel that the team will be able to make the decisions needed to move forward because we want success.
Having access to stakeholders and sponsors is one of the keys to making this work best. Having them on the core team is a huge bonus as well because then we know we have their attention and involving them in the research and design process gives them firsthand knowledge of what goes on in the heads, and at the desks of those who they support or manage.
Here’s a quote from one of my favorite architects, Richard Neutra, from his book Survival Through Design published in 1954, that to me really sums up what we accomplish by using this special brand of design thinking we’ve created for you:
“Human beings must be served and they are reached by design not only as ultimate consumers; in the process they must be won over as co-performers and working crew.”
What it Boils Down To
When we work in these teams; us IBers, your IT representatives, your users or Subject Matter Experts, the report writers, the stakeholders and sponsors, we build a synergy that continues on long after that initial two day session is complete. We get important work accomplished because we involve people, not just tech. We define and strike a balance between creativity and logic. We write our project expectation statement on a large sheet of paper and tape it to the wall so that we can refer back to it every time we make a decision if course-correction is needed.
We practice nonjudgement. We listen to what others have to say and feel is best. We collaborate and we respectfully challenge assumptions and the “well, we’ve always done it that way” attitude with bright new ideas born from the team dynamic we create when people from different backgrounds, with different mental models come together with a purpose.
And when the IBers leave the site, we leave knowing that we’ve been a force for good. Sappy? You might think so, but the results come in declarations like, “What you taught us has completely changed the way I think about and write reports for my people.” Or “We were equally pleased at how the sessions went and took away a great deal of knowledge in the process.”
BI and analytics applications exist to help businesses thrive in this economy where the fast eat the slow. In a world where Gartner predicts that BI gets at best a 30% adoption rate in companies across the board, we yell “Not good enough!” and we lead companies in a repeatable methodology and practice to turn that around, and reap the rewards from their BI investments.
Have we counted you as a success story yet? If not, maybe it’s time we spoke, and set up a plan to turn you around so that your users can thrive in their environments, and do what they come to work to do – be productive members of the team and know too that they’ve been a force for good.
Register to watch the 3-part Design Thinking for BI and Analytics series here.