The agile manifesto’s first principle, after all, states that the top priority is satisfying the customer. Agile’s iterative approach lets project teams react to changes
and challenges better, and deliver a finished product in a shorter time frame.
Getting to the end faster, however, is only a good thing if it’s the right destination to begin with. That’s why organizations increasingly are pairing design
thinking and agile processes to identify the right solution—and then build a
better product. A process for generating creative solutions, design thinking has
been around for decades. As organizations look to innovate—often while growing into new markets or sectors—in recent years, more have turned to design
thinking to light the way.
Design thinking is essentially about user empathy and developing a solution
based on that, says Bob Tarne, PMI-ACP, PMP, executive project manager at
PMI Global Executive Council member IBM, Lexington, Kentucky, USA. “It’s
a matter of, to what degree do you really try to understand what your user is
doing? Design thinking is saying: Don’t just have a half-hour conversation with
your user to say, ‘Do you want pink or blue?’ Have a conversation about what
challenges them in their day-to-day work.”
Understanding the problem paves the way for executing more creative, useful
solutions through agile processes—in other words, delivering the true customer
satisfaction on which agile is built.
“Design thinking increases the potential that you will build something your
customers want and will buy,” says Susan Kuypers, director, design thinking,
design and co-innovation center, SAP Labs, Palo Alto, California, USA. (SAP
is a Council member as well.) “We know about lone geniuses and startups who
can do this. Design thinking decreases the risk of building something that fails.
It allows the rest of us to approach that ability to build something that becomes
a success in the market.”
Teams successfully using agile approaches might question the need to incorporate design thinking into their process. That type of reaction is exactly why they
might need to integrate the two, says Jacqui Speers, digital solution designer
potential that you
will build something
want and will buy.”
—Susan Kuypers, SAP Labs, Palo Alto,
The agile revolution
always has been about