3 steps to boost productivity with design thinking
Though design thinking has been around for decades, it didn’t catch fire in the business world until the last few years. Companies like IBM, Airbnb, Microsoft, Salesforce, Mint.com, and Burberry are implementing the practice to encourage employees to think more creatively in their jobs. But how can design thinking improve productivity?
According to Charlie Hill, IBM’s design fellow, allows teams to work together in a multidisciplinary way, and at the same time, helps teams work faster and embrace an iterative approach.
Hill’s statement is especially true for one of Skuid’s customers. The company used design thinking to increase its call center reps’ productivity by 750%.
Here are three steps to conduct a design thinking exercise to see similar productivity results:
1. Define the problem and form insights.
In design thinking, before you can start contemplating your solution, you need to clearly define the problem. Then, you can begin to form insights about what might be causing it. Even if you think you know the answer, put yourself in the shoes of those involved. You will often find that what may be obvious to you is not obvious to everyone else, and vice versa.
In the case of our previously-mentioned Skuid customer, the call center reps needed to increase individual productivity. But “productivity” was not universally understood. To understand what productivity meant for users, the company asked questions about the call center rep’s role: What does your work day look like? Show me your current process of answering a call? How do you find the data you need to answer questions? How do you enter data required to close a call? When they come across items that surprised them, they asked “why” until they could get an answer.
In the case of the call center customer, the productivity problem was rooted in a poor user interface that required 15 minutes for a rep to log a single call.
2. Frame opportunities and brainstorm ideas.
At this point, it’s easy to go into “problem-solver” mode. But no matter how obvious the solution seems, it’s important to slow down and explore different angles and ideas, no matter how strange they may at first seem. Some of the most off-the-wall ideas from design thinking exercises can lead to pretty creative and astounding productivity solutions.
For our call center customer, the solution involved a completely redesigned user interface that better fit the call center reps’ needs. Using the information they gathered through user research, they mapped out a data-entry process that perfectly mirrors how their reps wanted the process to work.
3. Implement and experiment.
Now, it’s time to implement your plan and see if you get the results you were expecting. Once you see how your team reacts to the changes, you can tweak your direction if it isn’t quite working. Experiments and fast iterations can be the most critical phase of design thinking, but companies often fail here due to the amount of code engineering required to shift gears quickly. The truth is, it takes trial and error to perfect the idea you came up with, so you need an enabling platform for making these iterations fast and painlessly.
Our call center customer chose the Skuid as their enabling platform for design thinking, because with Skuid they could design and deploy and quickly experiment and iterate. After launching their new application, our call center customer listened to their reps’ feedback and changed the design dynamically. The call center made these changes on the fly with Skuid’s drag-and-drop tools. And the results speak for themselves. Before implementing the new system, the average rep made 8,000 calls per year. With the new redesigned system, the average rep can make 60,000 calls per year—a 750% productivity increase.