Project Management

Design Thinking & Project Management

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Design Thinking has emerged as a practical methodology for driving innovative outcomes. This blog aims to explore the intersection between Design Thinking and Project Management and to start a conversation on leveraging Design Thinking for contribution to the Project Management practice.

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Integrate Design into Your Organization

In May 2016, I presented a webinar to the PMI Community on the topic "Design Thinking & Project Management"

In this article I address options and recommendations on how to structure User Experience (UX) Design teams within your organization.

Each company or organization is different. How you decide to organize your teams will depend on what works best for your company's goals and culture. The key organizational models for UX Design are: centralized, de-centralized (aka embedded), or hybrid of the two. There are advantages and disadvantages for each model.

1. Centralized Model

In a centralized team model, designers belong to a single unit and are "farmed out" to work on individual projects around the organization. When a particular designer's work is complete they return to the central group and are re-assigned to new work and new projects.

Advantages:

  • Promotes uniform career growth of the design team.
  • Provides emotional benefits of belonging to a group.
  • Advances a coherent design experience across the organization.

Disadvantages:

  • Reduces design to a purely execution function, not fully integrated into the project life cycle.
  • Designers are inserted into a project that was already underway.
  • Designers would not have participated in problem definition, a key activity that designers are well-suited to lead the team through.
  • Perception of designers as outsiders - "not one of us".

2. Embedded Model

In this model, designers are embedded into multidisciplinary teams and report up through local management. Designers are dedicated to a team and each team is devoted to a distinct aspect of the product or software development.

Advantages:

  • Over time, the team forms a cohesive unit and team members respect the contributions of the designer.
  • The designer builds up specific business or domain knowledge and
  • The designer establishes stronger bonds with key stakeholder (and decision makers) involved in the project.

Disadvantages:

  • Designers have no sense of design community for support, they could become lonely.
  • Designers work on their own, likely not collaborating with other designers within the organization.
  • Team members are non-designers who do not speak the same professional language. 

3.  Hybrid Model

From recent experiences, we overcame the disadvantages of the two previous models by evolving a hybrid model with both embedded and centralized attributes. We found that having UX designers embedded in the development teams, but also members of a design group within the organization, worked best. The result had the combined advantages from both models.

In the hybrid model, there is a degree of commitment and engagement desired from the embedded designers assigned to specific projects. In this case, the designer understands the full life cycle and is deeply wedded to the business or domain. Having a centralized reporting structure lets designers to be managed by other designers. This allows for peer design, knowledge sharing across projects and quickly ramping up on a project.

 

I am passionate about evangelizing Design within the Project Management community. I welcome any feedback or comments on this article. 

Connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter @brucegay

Posted on: February 16, 2020 11:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

What Goes on in the Mind of a Project Manager?

Have you ever stopped to think about the common characteristics you have with other Project Managers? In order to explain these to an audience of non-project managers, I generated a user persona to explain the goals, motivations, mindsets, and pain points of Project Managers.

The persona I generated is based off of interviews Aurora Melchor, a UX Designer, conducted with her team as well as additional data points that I added from my circle of colleagues.

GOALS: Keep everyone happy; Deliver value and project success; Predictability

MOTIVATIONS: Wants interesting, fun, and challenging work; Recognition and promotion

MINDSET: Likes problem-solving; Feels the urgency to “get stuff done”; Driven by accomplishment; Often does well “riding the wave” of change

PAIN POINTS: “My day is a fractured experience!”; Inadequate planning and poor estimates; Manual repetitive work across multiple applications; Having to do more with less; Risk, complexity, and uncertainty has increased (VUCA)

 

Let me know your feedback on this representation of a Project Manager.

 - What insights do you draw from the persona?

 - What can non-Project Managers learn from this persona?

 - Is there additional information that you recommend to include in the persona?

Connect with me here on Linkedin, at www.brucegay.com, or follow me on Twitter @brucegay

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Posted on: July 11, 2019 09:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Design Thinking Introduction for Project Leaders

The pace of change and disruption in the business environment demands that we, as Project Leaders, grow and acquire new skills. To be successful, we need to look past the rigor and discipline of managing projects and embrace agility and collaboration, thinking about customers first, with innovation and adaptive leadership.

Design Thinking has emerged as a successful methodology that organizations use to approach problem-solving and delivery of innovative solutions that delight their customers. Design Thinking provides models for project leaders to be more successful in this every-changing profession.

My webinar from May 2016 outlines the benefits of incorporating design on projects while providing a high-level overview of methods and tools:

 

https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/330087/Design-Thinking---Project-Management

 

Connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter @brucegay

Posted on: February 13, 2019 06:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Design Thinking Resources for Project Managers

"Evolve or be Disrupted"

The pace of change and disruption in the business environment demands that Project Managers acquire and grow new skills. Indeed, we need new tools and models to operate in a more flexible, discovery-driven world. To be successful, our profession needs to look past the rigor and discipline of managing projects and embrace agility and collaboration, thinking about customers first, innovation and adaptive leadership. Design Thinking has emerged as a successful methodology that organizations use to approach problem-solving and delivery of innovative solutions that delight their customers.

This article provides an updated list of resources that Project Managers (and others) can use to become more knowledgeable on Design Thinking. (In no particular order.)

IDEO

IDEO (pronounced "eye-dee-oh") an international design and consulting firm headquartered in Palo Alto, California, has been a leading proponent of applying design thinking methodology to design products, services, environments, and digital experiences.

Frog Design

Frog is global product strategy and design firm founded in Germany and currently headquartered in San Francisco, California. Frog has developed and made available a "Collective Action Toolkit" that helps put design-thinking tools into the hands of local change agents to transform their communities. While this toolkit is more geared to solving community problems, the tools and methods can be applied to problem-solving in the government and business sectors.

Stanford d.school

If there is one place to start learning more about Design Thinking, I would highly recommend the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, more commonly known as the "d.school." The d.school provides an excellent "Virtual Crash Course on Design Thinking" on their website.

Luma Institute

The LUMA Institute provides training programs for learning and applying key practices of human-centered design. Their "Looking, Understanding, Making" approach is very accessible to average people who may not necessarily think of themselves as "innovators". 

Google Ventures (GV)

GV has developed a 5-day process for tackling business questions through design, prototyping, and testing of ideas with customers. A guide for "The Design Sprint" is laid out nicely at their website.

IBM Design Thinking

IBM Design Thinking is billed as a scalable framework to help teams understand and deliver. At the heart of this framework is a is a set of behaviors focused on discovering users’ needs and envisioning a better future, called the "Loop." The Loop is a continuous cycle of observing, reflecting and making.

Interaction Design Foundation

The Interaction Design Foundation is a 16-year-old nonprofit community, founded in Denmark, whose aim is to lower the cost of design education. IDF offers an extensive library of design-related textbooks and comprehensive instructor-led online courses.

Canva

Canva is a graphic-design tool website, that uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. In 2014, the Canva team unveiled the Canva Design School; a new platform, workshop series and teacher resource hub designed to increase the world’s visual literacy.

Design Council UK

Design Council’s stated purpose is to make life better by design. It’s mission is to champion great design that improves lives and makes things better. The Design Council aims to harness design to drive business growth and improve service efficiency, design practical solutions to complex problems, create better, more sustainable places, and to lead and share the latest thinking on design.

University of Copenhagen's Innovation Toolbox

The aim of the innovation toolbox is to support teachers with planning and carrying out innovation & entrepreneurship teaching, both in relation to minor processes and workshops as well as longer-term courses. The innovation toolbox provides an overview to Design Thinking and provides over forty methods to use on projects.

Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI)

HPI is an institute and faculty of the University of Potsdam. Since 2007, the HPI School of Design Thinking has brought together students and academics from different fields to work in multidisciplinary teams where they learn to become innovators and to develop user-friendly products and services.

 

I am passionate about the intersection between Design Thinking and Project Management and welcome any feedback or comments on available Design Thinking resources. 

Connect with me here on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter @brucegay

Posted on: October 21, 2018 07:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

#PMChat - Twitter Chat for Project Managers

 

 

I will be hosting #PMChat ...

Friday February 2nd at 12 pm EST /  5 pm GMT. 

Come join the discussion on how human-centered design can improve customer satisfaction and overall benefits realization for your projects. Looking forward to the dialog.

 

Twitter: @brucegay

Posted on: January 29, 2018 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)
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