After the workshop, Ms. Kuypers documents the output for the engineering team, which then uses a hybrid of agile and design thinking methods to
develop the proof of concept. It’s an approach that she says works well during an eight- to 12-week proof of concept period, during which the team is
developing early iterations of a product.
“From agile, they used the product backlog and sprint plans. From design
thinking, they used frequent check-in calls with the customer to get feedback
and iterate on design and features,” she says. “Often the customer freed up
some of their resources, who would sit with our team and participate in
development. The team almost always was able to build in some ‘wow’ factor
for the customer this way.”
A DIFFERENT MINDSET
As any agilista who has guided teams or an organization through the transition from waterfall knows, change isn’t always well-received. Ms. Kuypers
trains team members in both agile and design thinking methods, and then
lets them develop their own hybrid model as a group.
Ms. Speers advises a specific approach for easing agile teams’ transition
into the world of design thinking: bring together representatives from each
group that will be contributing to the project (e.g., business, development,
product, design, governance) and emphasize the ways design thinking connects to agile principles. For example, both prioritize individuals and interactions over processes and tools, and customer collaboration over contract
In the end, design thinking can help passionate, energetic agile teams do
what they’ve always wanted to do, Ms. Speers says: “create something cool,
clever and relevant.” With a product in hand, the next steps are familiar:
“Ship it, listen to your users, learn and iterate, and carry on doing that for as
long as the product is meant to live.” PM
Design Thinking 101
At its core, design thinking is a creative process that begins by thoughtfully defining the problem to be solved. It can
be used in any industry to drive innovative solutions.
Source: Stanford University Institute of Design
HOW IT WORKS
The design thinking process can vary but typically includes five phases:
n Encourages team members
to be open-minded and
pitch wild ideas
n Helps project managers find
solutions that might not
have been visible before
n Emphasizes user experience
to ensure solutions will
improve the end product or
1. Empathize with the end user through immersion, interaction and observation.
2. Define the problem that needs to be solved. Frame the definition in a way that allows for
3. Ideate possible solutions. Generate a wide variety of ideas and encourage team members to
judge them all equally.
4. Prototype the best ideas. Interact with them in physical form, experience what works and
5. Test the prototypes with users. Observe and collect feedback, then use this to refine ideas.
“Keep some of
—Bob Tarne, PMI-ACP, PMP