Unlike most fortune tellers I can predict with near 100% accuracy that your company is going through a digital transformation. Digital transformations are big. Digital transformations are complex. Digital transformations are long, multi-year programs. You and your competitors are in transformation in order to keep up with rising customer expectations. Customers expect frictionless omni-channel experiences.

In the past, nearly all companies organized around channels. You have departments for customer service, sales, marketing, and product. Each department has their own goals and agenda, which eventually turned into silos of operation. These silos often adopt a myopic view of the world and lose site of the customer. They only focus on hitting their key performance indicators, which rarely (if ever) relate back to a customer's purpose for using your product. These silos are one of the main reasons your digital transformation will likely fail. According to a McKinsey & Company global survey, approximately 70% of digital transformations fail. What will happen to your company when your digital transformation fails?

In most digital transformation projects, the goal is to design a product or service that users and/or customers will love. Traditionally the design team will employ user-centered methods, such as conducting user research and usability testing. These methods are still essential to the design process, but when it comes to impactful collaboration, they only really scratch the surface. There are many issues with these methods:

  • Customers and users are treated as lab mice. They’re studied and used for validation but never actually involved in the ideation necessary to solve their own problems.

  • Customers and stakeholders never cross paths in a meaningful way. This inhibits stakeholders from building real empathy and gaining an understanding of their needs and pain points.

  • If stakeholders don’t fully understand their customers, the direction and guidance they give to the design and development team won’t take the customer’s needs into consideration. The customer’s perspective could be lost in the final solution.

What if I told you there was one simple thing you could do to help smash down silos and keep focused on your customer? What if that simple thing significantly reduced your digital transformation failure risk?

The best way to avoid this risk is to make users and stakeholders part of the entire design process; not just at certain touch points. This can be achieved through co-production.

Co-production is a practice within human-centered design in which customers and stakeholders take active roles in designing and building solutions. They're challenged to take on new roles, such as sketching solutions, testing prototypes, and even sometimes building the product. They become an integral part of the entire design process, instead of just observers.

Now I know what you’re thinking - “How is that possible? Users can’t code! Stakeholders can’t design!” But in the proper environments and equipped with the proper tools, yes, they can!

At Pega, we encourage empathy and collaboration using design thinking methods and practices. We co-design interfaces based on user research and involve our end-users in the session whenever possible. Our low-code App Studio environment allows client stakeholders to configure the interface and the user experience directly in the system that is used for the final product. This validates the technical capabilities and lets us test the product at the early stages of development, ironing out any design issues or technical deficiencies. All this is done transparently, with the client involved, not only as an observer but as an active contributor to the design and development of the new solution.

The value of co-design and co-production goes beyond efficiency.

It allows the team to align diverse perspectives behind a strong product vision that not only achieves business outcomes, it also puts a strong emphasis on desirability and user satisfaction by promoting complete alignment across all stakeholders during the design phase. There is a lot of value in bringing all the interested parties in the same room and building a product vision together. Design thinking tools and methods help us achieve this alignment that is otherwise very hard and time-consuming to reach.

Besides breaking down organizational silos and aligning all stakeholders via a powerful product vision, design thinking levels the playing field by using simple, cost-effective tools: paper prototypes, throwaway solution sketches, and process maps. The goal – besides being cost-effective – is to allow each individual to contribute their vision, independently of their software experience. Gone are the days when the design department receives instructions via email and creates a fully fleshed-out design before aligning with the product owner. In a design thinking scenario everyone works together using all available tools, and the team selects winning ideas to go into the final product brief.

Get your stakeholders together and get going.

While digital transformation can be a risky and difficult process, design thinking helps us tackle customer expectations in an easy to reproduce, low-risk fashion by using commonly available tools, testing ideas before implementing, and aligning everyone behind a well-articulated product vision. You can start doing this today by getting your users and stakeholders in the room and getting their feedback on your best ideas.

Learn more:

To learn more about design thinking in digital transformation, check out how Pega employs it to deliver value to our customers:

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