Making choices in organizations is not always the best way

The ability to use empathy in the context of problem solving or satisfaction of needs of people can carry us up to design thinking.

But how do we define a problem is the most important element for trying to solve and to achieve advances in design thinking!

The problems are always linked to a social system that is a complex set of interacting human relationships in many ways. For example, in an organization, the social system comprises all persons working for it, its partners, customers and other external bodies, as well as the relationships between them all.

An organization must be receptive and be committed to the changes that arrive from outside, but this implies often a huge capacity to solve problems, because the behavior of a system member, has influence to a greater or lesser extent, in the performance of the organization.

This is also why the boundaries of a social system are difficult to determine given the trade generated by all individuals or groups. The culture of an organization is part of a larger system, which is the society where this organization develops its activity.

Marty Neumeier said “design is rapidly moving from poster and toasters to include processes, systems and organizations”.

That is, design thinking in organizations, no longer refers only to a product or service, but rather to the projection of a user or customer in the various subsystems in which they are inserted.

This leads us to think about problems and culture of innovation in organizations and somehow also about the impact that design thinking can have in organizations.

If on the one hand it seems to be true that people depend on the culture, since this gives them stability, security, understanding and the ability to respond to a particular situation, on the other hand, people react to change because they fear insecurity.

Then when trying to reconcile these two situations we note that the definition of the problem requires a very specific architecture.

We are talking about the organizational structure and culture of the organizations, about communication and workflows and about business strategies. If we want to avoid frustration when we pursue the idea of a business or organization guided by design thinking we have to think about transparency, better performing and in trust.

We know that the elements of an organization have a constant fear that the system becomes unstable; they fear that their security is compromised and won’t understand a new process nor do they know how to respond to new situations, when they are targeted by a design thinking approach.

It is not a question of observe and gather information about a consumer product, even if this definition of the problem is people-centric. It’s about to define the problem in terms of behaviors of the various systems and of their relations.

“When I get invited by CEOs to talk about integrating design thinking into their organizations, they listen attentively. As they understand what it is, the cautious ones argue that the core of their business is just too important to expose it to the risks of design — and maybe we could experiment with design in some minor part of the business off to the side. My response, typically, is to argue that the core is the most critical place for utilizing design thinking in order to save the core — and their whole business — from the inevitable poor consequences of exploiting the current rather than exploring what might be. But that argument rarely works.” – Roger Martin

To overcome that fear, the first step that the leaders and managers must give, is try to understand the differences between how they walk in business and the prospects of designers about, how to solve problems.

Business decision makers tend to follow a very analytical process, making decisions by understanding all the options available, which entails time consumption and a difficult management of information deemed relevant. The desired analytical rigor is indeed only true if the information is relevant and acceptable in the decision-making process.

Design thinking points the construction of prototypes and interaction of ideas as a way to learn. Synthesize the interdisciplinary information and develop concepts that can be translated into further steps of action. When we embrace constraints, the rules are constraints, we show the evolution of work through design.

When we discuss the question of decision-making or choice of possible alternatives it is important not to allow ourselves to be reduced to the analytical “old school”.

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