Applying Design Thinking to Companies’ Current Framework


Applying Design Thinking to Companies’ Current Framework

Over the last two months I have attended three SharedServices events and listened to a variety of sessions over the three or so days for each program (a dizzying number of truly inspiring sessions and an overload of important information from coast to coast). Attendees were buzzing and often the words design thinking would come up. In fact, it seems like it was popping into every other conversation. Design Thinking….an exciting methodology that everyone was talking about, but what was it really?

Collaboration is Key

In my quest to dig a little deeper into this methodology I set out to learn from others that had already put this methodology in place and the first thing that struck me from speaking with those practitioners was that collaboration is key and everyone’s opinion matters. It’s identifying the problem and coming up with real solutions. It sounds cliché for how to get anything done, but often the seemingly simplest things turn out to be the most difficult to put into practice. This is done by people that are actually dealing with the problem or affected by the change or outcome. Leadership doesn’t lay out unachievable roadmaps with no idea of what was going on in the field. This gives people more ownership over the solution and fosters accountability organically. Maybe it’s the millennial in me but the more I heard about the methodology the more I loved it.

Design Thinking is Agile

One of the things that is great about design thinking is that it is so agile. Teams come together, discuss problems and come up with solutions quickly. If the solution fails, teams don’t have to wait for the nextcompany C-Suite board meeting to make decisions and get things done. They have the collaborative foundation, the agile mindset and a desire to solve the problem relatively quickly. This is something that I think all companies wish to achieve but not all are able to do.

Establishing Accountability

Defining key stakeholders early on can help with the success of putting this into practice. You need people that will step up if the solution is failing and rally the troops to come up with new ones. What I have learned over the last few days is that it is important to choose a variety of people and not just the few that often have their opinion heard. I joined a mock exercise hosted by ISG at SSOW’s HR Shared Services event in Miami where small incentives were given for people to speak up, this got people excited! Putting together small incentives for the wall flowers to collaborate I thought to myself isn’t a bad idea and could extend even outside of the design thinking framework.

Taking it back to My Own Office

When I arrived back to the office after the series of events I started to think about how we could put design thinking into play within my own team. The first step was to identify what problem we should try and solve first through this methodology. The conclusion? A more user friendly mobile app for our events. The app we have has great points and clear room for improvement, and its usability affects both our internal stakeholders and our conference attendees. So it’s a natural fit for a new way of solving problems. And, as we’re just rolling out our 2020 roster of events, this is the perfect time for collaboration. But who will the key stakeholders be? I’ve identified where it can be used and will bring it up in our next meeting. Luckily I work for a company that fosters collaboration and lets all voices be heard, so this shouldn’t be too hard to implement.

Stay tuned for part two to see how this all turned out and don’t forget to check out our 24th Annual North American SharedServices and Outsourcing Week program for real life examples on how design thinking helped other shared services organizations and how it can help yours too!

Have a great design thinking story to tell or want to join one of SSOW’s events? Reach out to me at I would love to hear from you!