By Cyndee Miller
Everybody deserves a little attention now and again—some small sign that someone out there is actually paying attention to what they’re saying.
And for companies, there’s a payoff to focusing on the people at the receiving end of their projects and products: A 2018 analysis by Forrester and IBM found that applying design thinking over a three-year span can boost an organization’s portfolio profit by US$18.6 million and trim project budgets by US$20.6 million.
Alas, that’s not always how it works in the real world. “The most common mistake I see is when teams already have the solution fixed in mind before they even talk with their customers,” says Juliano Muniz, PMP, program manager at Poly in São Paulo, Brazil.
But projects can’t really deliver benefits unless they satisfy customer wants, needs and expectations. Look no further than 2019 PMO of the Year winner Fannie Mae. After the 2008 housing market crash, U.S. homeownership was on the decline. Part of the issue: all that cryptic government-speak that’s par for the course in the highly regulated mortgage market. Looking to build a more user-friendly experience, the mortgage buyer’s EPMO rolled out Ask Poli, a chatbot that pulls from thousands of pages of dense policy material to answer lender questions in plain English.
In the healthcare industry, patient feedback might be just what the doctor ordered. At Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Brisbane, Australia, CIO Russell Hart sat in on an appointment to observe firsthand how the patient and the clinician interact with ICT systems. He got a big dose of reality, witnessing that the physician had to constantly switch back and forth among different screens and apps to access and discuss the patient’s various lab results.
"The patient struggled to follow as the physician kept clicking between different screens," Mr. Hart told PM Network®. So he expanded the project’s scope to consolidate info into one interface.
And then there’s my personal favorite: Dolce & Gabbana. Rather than adopting identical project specs for each of its locations, the Italian couture label collaborates with different architects to create a bespoke environment that speaks to the local fashionistas. For its boutique in Rome, Italy, for example, the company transformed a 16th-century palazzo into an homage to the Sistine Chapel—complete with Gregorian chants and a 4-minute animation of undulating Roman gods and cherubs. The result? An immersive digital experience that’s as over-the-top as the luxe label itself—and just what its fashion-forward customers crave.
How are you incorporating design thinking and customer-centricity into your projects?