Idea Storm Blog – Impact of Design Thinking


This week’s blog revisits a blog I wrote on February 13th 2018 titled – “Idea Storm Blog – Design Thinking ROI and success”. This is because two leading organisations around Design Thinking recently released studies on the impact of Design Thinking.

The first study “The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM’s Design Thinking Practice – An IBM commissioned Forrester study” placed a Dollar value on the benefits their customers have gained from Design Thinking work done by IBM.

Secondly, “EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF DESIGN THINKING IN ACTION” by Darden School of Business, lead by Jeanne Liedtka, studied Design Thinking performance improvements at 22 companies.

“The Total Economic Impact™ Of IBM’s Design Thinking Practice – An IBM commissioned Forrester study”

IBM is a leading Design Thinking company with Design Studios in 42 locations around the world (including South Africa) that have trained 1,600 IBM staff in the IBM tailored Design Thinking process.

Background reading into the story of Design Thinking can be found here:

Summary findings

IBM had a specific Design Thinking practice and IBM asked Forrester to analyze the financial benefits that a company would gain using the IBM Design Studio.

These are all benefits extracted from the Executive Summary:

  • Project teams doubled design and execution speed.

  • Organizations slashed the time required for initial design and alignment by 75%.

  • Project teams leveraged better designs and user understanding to reduce development and testing time by at least 33%.

  • Design Thinking practice helped projects cut design defects in half. Projects were more successful in meeting user needs, thereby reducing design defects and subsequent rework.

  • Faster time-to-market enabled increased profits from net new customers and the higher present value of expected profits.

  • Human-centered design improved product outcomes, reduced the risk of costly failures, and increased portfolio profitability.

  • Cross-functional teams collaborated to share problems and find solutions.

Key areas of IBM Design Thinking’s business impact

  • Design early, design right:

  • Redesign becomes more expensive at each project phase – Design, Build, Test and After Release.

  • Redesigning after releases takes months, year or possibly never, have a high chance of the project being cancelled altogether, possibly damages the brand of the company and definitely doesn’t make a return on investment.

  • Redesigning early can energize the team, discover new opportunities, ensure the project meets user needs and help deliver great return.

  • Key Challenges before Design Thinking:

  • Projects were slow, frustrating and employees were resistant to change.

  • The “No” culture held organisations back.

  • Poor design resulted in diminishing user experience, and ultimately, lost revenue.

  • Key results from Design Thinking:

  • Better design.

  • Reduced risk.

  • Time to market reduced.

  • Reduced costs.

  • Processes streamlined.

  • Energised employees and teams aligned.

  • Demonstrated project value.

EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF DESIGN THINKING IN ACTION – Jeanne Liedtka – Darden School of Business.

The second paper on the impact of Design Thinking is more academic and written within the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.

It studied 22 organisations who achieved success using Design Thinking and the value of this organisation innovation performance.

Key practices of Design Thinking observed

During their research they identified five key sets of Design Thinking practice:

  1. Development of deep empathic understanding of user needs and context.

  2. The formation of heterogeneous teams.

  3. Dialogue-based conversations.

  4. Experimentation of multiple solutions.

  5. The use of a structured and facilitated process.

Five Benefits of Design Thinking

  1. Improves organisational innovation outcomes by producing higher quality solutions.

  2. Improves innovation outcomes by reducing the risk of failure.

  3. Improves outcomes by improving the likelihood of implementation.

  4. Impacts innovation outcomes by improving adaptability.

  5. Impacts innovation by the creation of local capability sets.

Exciting times…

These are exciting times for Design Thinking and people involved in Design Thinking. Not only has Design Thinking been adopted by all the large consulting and IT companies but now research and results are showing the success of Design Thinking.

Is your company doing Design Thinking? How is it working for you? What have been your experiences? I would really value your input…..

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