I have written extensively in this blog series about the power of the TLS Continuum in your organization. Like most of you I read the professional media and books to stay on top of what is going on in our industry. Every now and then you come across a concept which changes your whole focus or makes your mind run a mile a minute. I have just such a concept in two things I have read recently. The first was an article written by Tim Brown and Roger Martin in article titled Design for Action that appeared in the September 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The second is a book written by Tim Oglivie and Jeanne Liedtka titled Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers.
Over many parts of the TLS Continuum blog series I have talked about the importance of creating cross-functional teams. Typically I have suggested that the team membership should consist of those who have a stake in the outcome. Typically this means that we look at the functional areas that touch the process we are reviewing. These two sources suggest that we are missing a valuable resource in our continuous process improvement efforts.
When the organization decides to create a new product you turn to the research and development experts and the marketing experts to design the new product. They utilize the principles of design thinking most described by the staff at IDEO. Design thinking brings about a whole new method of looking at the world. It requires us to get closer to the customer. I have talked earlier about the role of the voice of the customer but this goes beyond that level. Here the R&D people become one with the customer. You need to be in the place of understanding the world from the customer’s view. The Harvard Business Review article suggests we can do that by becoming integrated with the customer’s emotional involvement with your product or service. When you start the continuous process improvement efforts you need to go beyond rattling off solutions and create models to examine the complex problems. The Design specialist is in a better situation to create these models.
When we propose solutions we typically lay out the solutions but we do not create the view of the future state to demonstrate what that new world will look like. Understand as you look at the future you may find some aspects of your model is not correct and that is alright. Your organization needs to tolerate failure as suggested by Deming.
As a result Ogilvie and Liedtka suggest that by bringing in the design experts we change the focus to one based on four interdependent views. The first view asks your team to respond to the question what is? Its intent is to establish a clear view of the current state of the process or nature of your organization. How are we responding to the customer? How are we utilizing the problem solving tools in our toolboxes?
The second question, answers the question what is? That looks at the future very much like we do in the TLS Continuum. If you make these changes how will our process change? How will the customer react to the changes? Do the changes resolve the issues?
The third question is what wows? What do we propose that is going to excite the organization. What do we propose that is going to excite the customers?
The final question is what works? You have introduced solutions and begun the implementation and see how it rolls out to the marketplace.
It is our intent over the next four weeks to take you on a journey through each stage and merge their tools with the ones we already use in the TLS Continuum.