Can Design Thinking be facilitated online? It’s a question we’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently here at OrangeTrail. Our work focuses on changing the way people work by utilising the collaboration tools they have in new and novel ways. We’ve changed the way meetings happen, made innovation more effective and engaging and improved processes from new product testing to best practice creation. But the one sacred cow we’ve come across, the process we haven’t yet touched, is Design Thinking.
Now we’re big fans at OrangeTrail of Design Thinking for tricky, complex problems. To find creative solutions, bringing together people from different disciplines and backgrounds is very valuable. But here’s the sticking point. More and more companies are finding it difficult to bring diverse groups of people together, either because of capacity problems or travel restrictions. We have a client team we work with who are based on different continents and they have never met in person. Ever. This is far from unusual.
Collaboration platforms are fundamental to how we operate and are the cornerstone of how we enable clients to become more efficient, effective and engaged. That’s why, we’re going to tackle the issue of bringing Design Thinking into the digital realm. We’re creating an online process that retains all the creative power and insight of Design Thinking without all the logistical hassle, expense and inefficiency of trying to get people together in the same room at the same time.
The approach we’ve developed, and are in the process of piloting, is very recognisable to anyone who has been involved in a Design Thinking workshop, but with added benefits. First we can make the process asynchronous as well as synchronous (all together at the same time but not in the same place). This means people can contribute when they are able. No problems with time zones or clashing meeting requests. Everyone can contribute at their own pace.
The use of technology also fosters, we believe, more insightful contributions. Allowing contributions to be done at everyone’s own pace results in people finding a suitable moment in their busy work day to sit down, think and write down their thoughts. This can dramatically improve the quality of Design Thinking. Our online Design Thinking process balances structured narrative contributions with the more impulsive, creative contributions.
So why write this blog? Well we’re looking for a few forward thinking companies to join us in an experiment in online Design Thinking. We’ll take some tricky problems, tackle them together online and share our findings. So who’s going to join us? All you need is a tricky problem and a willingness to experiment. Drop me a line if you’re interested.