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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Big Bang Delivery is Dead

Does a Specific Mind-set Drive Passion for our Work?

Reflections on PM Congress 2019 (TU Delft)

Design Thinking Introduction for Project Leaders

Comparison of PM Approaches - Help Needed

Does a Specific Mind-set Drive Passion for our Work?

I am reflecting on my experiences attending multiple PM conferences over the last couple of months. My aim is to identify and share emergent themes that are bubbling up across the project management profession.

Moritz Sprenger's "Voices in Project Management" retrospective on the PMI EMEA Congress had a topic that stood out to me. Mortiz made the keen observation as to why we are passionate about our profession, it is the PM mind-set.

An excerpt from Moritz’ blog post: “I have realized for why I am passionate about the profession of project management: It’s all about mind-set. The people I met [at PMI EMEA Congress] in Dublin had these things in common: Personal drive, the willingness to communicate, being results-driven, working passionately towards personal goals, and foremost: curiosity. These are exactly the traits that distinguishes a good project managers."

Project Manager mind-set. Is that what attracts us to the profession?

I would love to hear if others agree whether it is the mind-set that drives passion for Project Management?

Posted on: June 11, 2019 06:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Comparison of PM Approaches - Help Needed

Fellow Project Leaders - I need help validating the information in the chart above comparing management of communications, quality, and risks across PMBOK, PRINCE2, Agile and Lean approaches. 

I plan to use this summary as a starting point to show areas where incorporating design methodologies on projects could show benefit.

Feedback is most welcome.

 

Posted on: December 31, 2018 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Professional Development Day Volunteering

Last week, the PMI Pittsburgh Chapter held its annual Professional Development Day (PDD). The volunteer organizing committee rallied around the theme of "Adaptive Delivery", which served as a common thread woven though our speaker's topics and presentations.

The PDD is our chapter's largest event of the year and after staging it in the city's suburbs for the past 5 years, the event returned to downtown Pittsburgh. We found the central location boosted attendance and we actually had to cut off registration in advance of the event.

I played the role of both volunteer organizer and session speaker, so I had the unique vantage of what was going on behind the scenes as well as on stage at the PDD. 

Here are some observations that I made leading up to and during the day of the PDD:

  • It takes a lot of planning and volunteer hours to pull together an event like PDD or PM symposium - but it is well worth it!
  • Having a clear chain of command and defined roles and responsibilities keeps things moving along.
  • Having a balance of "thinkers" and "doers" on the volunteer committee is key. Too many of one type would cause issues.
  • The networking opportunities were awesome! I am now closer to my fellow committee members and had the chance to network with sponsor companies and well-known speakers. 
  • While it sometimes seemed like a second job, we could have fun too!
  • Spending social time with the speakers the day before the PDD made them feel more connected to our chapter. 
  • Reading survey feedback from attendees is both very humbling and rewarding.
  • Lastly, volunteering the PDD is a great way to become immersed in your local chapter's activities and recognize by the chapter leadership team.

Looking forward to an event bigger Professional Development Day (PDD) in November 2019!

Posted on: November 12, 2018 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

#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)

Design Thinking & Project Management (repost)

Design and design thinking is "old news."  As Project Managers, we are late to this party. 

If you have not yet seen my webinar on Design Thinking & Project Management, here is a link:  https://www.projectmanagement.com/videos/330087/Design-Thinking---Project-Management


Design thinking has emerged as a major trend for how innovative organizations are approaching problem-solving. Design thinking encourages innovative solutions by drawing on approaches from engineering and design, and combining them with ideas from the arts, social sciences, and the business world.

Design Thinking is ...

1)  People-centered. Empathy is at the core.

Empathy gained through user research is at the center of design. The PM and project team should strive to include all project stakeholders and customers in the process, starting from project initiation. The goal is to get immediate and timely feedback from the customer and make changes and revisions along the way.

2) Extensive interdisciplinary collaboration.

A common challenge across projects is communication. Words, and the meaning behind them are often misunderstood. Different people with different backgrounds and experiences use language differently. Design Thinking tools and methods, like sketching, mind maps or physical models, can be extremely useful. They force people to remove imprecise words and organize around a “synthesized” picture to describe the concept. Additionally, people are terrible at recall, but we’re awesome at recognition. Project Managers should utilize these tools and methods to bring people together and work more effectively.

3) Highly creative. Strives for diverse viewpoints.

As a PM, you should staff your project team with people that possess different perspectives for the best results. You absolutely need people who think differently, but to be efficient, you need to find ways to communicate, prioritize, share in decision making. Seek out staff that can “think laterally” and are willing to try connecting ideas that might not seem to intuitively go together. 

4) All about doing and being hands-on.

Design Thinking is about taking ideas and concepts and quickly giving them form. Whether a napkin sketch, a prototype carved from foam rubber, or a digital mock-up, the quick-and-rough models that designers constantly create are a critical component of innovation. When you give form to an idea, you begin to make it real and can elicit emotional responses from end users and customers. You have to make in order to learn. 

5) Iterative.

Lastly, Design Thinking is iterative. You and your team will never get it right the first time.

As part of your project management process, you need to embed the cyclical process of prototyping, analyzing, and refining a product or service. Your team needs to secure timely feedback from the customer in order to make iterative/incremental improvements along the way. My advice -- the iterative nature of design is not as costly as not doing it at all.


A few closing thoughts on this topic:

  1. Design Thinking is not magic. There is rigor to it. You can learn it. You can practice it, you can get better at it.
  2. There are many design models to choose from and no single process or toolkit serves every case. As a PM, you need to understand whatever model you are using and account for it in your project planning and execution. 
  3. Design is a set of tools to solve problems. If you do it well, it is a sustainable activity that can transform your projects and your entire business.

 

I am passionate about evangelizing Design Thinking within the Project Management community. I welcome any feedback or comments below. 

Posted on: February 12, 2017 11:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)
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