Project Management

Human nature: Design thinking delivers a competitive edge

Hayley Grgurich

At a time when creative problem solving can make or break a business, design thinking is fast moving beyond the fringe and squarely into the mainstream. By focusing on the people for which projects and products are being built, teams can discover hidden opportunities. Whether teams are using an agile, waterfall (predictive) or hybrid approach, identifying users’ less observed behaviors, subtler motivations and barriers to action can provide a competitive business edge.

For teams and organizations that do it right, design-thinking ROI has been impressive: A 2018 analysis by Forrester for IBM found design thinking over three years can buoy an organization’s portfolio profit by US$18.6 million and trim project budgets by US$20.6 million, all while reducing risk. But as project teams apply design thinking, they could encounter a maturity gap. According to a 2018 Mindbowser survey of people at organizations that use design thinking, only 18 percent of them had training for it.

Four project professionals with strong design-thinking experience share how teams that focus on the human experience can generate the right solutions and achieve maximum value:

Vidhya Abhijith, PMP, co-founder and director, Codewave Technologies, Bengaluru, India

Renata McCurley, PMP, group …


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