Creative Leaders Explore Three Areas of Prototyping

Despite all our planning and analyzing and controlling, the typical church’s track record at translating its rhetoric into results is not impressive.

In the business world, researchers estimate that only somewhere between 10% and 60% of the promised returns for new strategies are actually delivered. The reality for many churches would be between 10% and 30% – tops. Practices that consume enormous amounts of time and attention mostly produce discouraging results.

All the empty talk is making it harder and harder to get anything to actually happen. Churches expect the staff to be member-focused while the majority watches. When a staff or volunteer actually takes a risk, they are punished if it doesn’t succeed. Ambitious growth goals aren’t worth the spreadsheets they are computed on.

Getting new results requires new tools – and design thinking has real tools to help move from talk to action.

Design thinking is actually a systematic approach to problem solving.

Design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process; done right, it will invariably make unexpected discoveries along the way.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Change by Design by Tim Brown

The myth of innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified and developed before being realized as new offerings and capabilities.

This book introduces the idea of design thinking‚ the collaborative process by which the designer′s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people′s needs not only with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. In short‚ design thinking converts need into demand. It′s a human−centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative.

Design thinking is not just applicable to so−called creative industries or people who work in the design field. It′s a methodology that has been used by organizations such as Kaiser Permanente to increase the quality of patient care by re−examining the ways that their nurses manage shift change‚ or Kraft to rethink supply chain management. This is not a book by designers for designers; this is a book for creative leaders seeking to infuse design thinking into every level of an organization‚ product‚ or service to drive new alternatives for business and society.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Iterate – Leaders who thought like designers would see themselves as learners.

Leaders often default to a straightforward linear problem-solving methodology: define a problem, identify various solutions, analyze each, and choose one – the right one. Designers aren’t nearly so impatient, or optimistic. They understand that the successful invention takes experimentation and that empathy is hard won. So is the task of learning.

For example, the IKEA way of business we know (and love!) today didn’t originally start out that way. Almost every element of IKEA’s legendary business model – showrooms and catalogs in tandem, knockdown furniture in flat parcels, and customer pick-up and assembly – emerged over time from experimental response to urgent problems.

“Regard every problem as a possibility,” was IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad’s mantra. He focused less on control and “getting it right” the first time and more on learning and on seeing and responding to opportunities as they emerged.

Prototyping at work is giving form to an idea, allowing us to learn from it, evaluate it against others, and improve upon it.

Anything tangible that lets us explore an idea, evaluate it, and push it forward is a prototype.

Techniques borrowed from film and other creative industries suggest how we might prototype nonphysical experiences. These include scenarios, a form of storytelling in which some potential future situation or state is described using words and pictures.

Prototypes should command only as much time, effort, and investment as is necessary to generate useful feedback and drive an idea forward.

Prototyping is always inspirational – not in the sense of a perfected project but just the opposite: because it inspires new ideas. Once tangible expressions begin to emerge, it becomes easy to try them out and elicit feedback internally from management and externally from potential customers.

In the ideation space we build prototypes to develop our ideas to ensure that they incorporate the functional and emotional elements necessary to meet the demands of the market.

In the third space of innovation we are concerned with implementation: communicating an idea with sufficient clarity to gain acceptance across the organization, proving it, and showing that it will work in its intended market.

There are many approaches to prototyping, but they share a single, paradoxical feature: They slow us down to speed us up. By taking the time to prototype our ideas, we avoid costly mistakes such as becoming too complex too early and sticking with a weak idea too long.

Tim Brown, Change by Design

A NEXT STEP

Quick prototyping is about acting before you’ve got all the answers, about taking chances, stumbling a little, but then making it right.

Prototyping is a state of mind.

A prototype is a simple experimental model of a proposed solution used to test or validate ideas, design assumptions, and other aspects of its conceptualization quickly and cheaply, so that the leaders involved can make appropriate refinements or possible changes in direction.

Long used in the design of “things,” prototyping is increasingly used to work on designing experiences or other non-material objects.

To explore a current situation at your church that can be improved, work through the following prototyping exercise:

Select a situation consisting of multiple elements and nuances that a guest encounters at your church. For example, a guest family with a preschool child visiting for the first time.

Prepare any accessories (props) needed to recreate the scene where the action takes place. Use cardboard, tape, or any cheap material at hand to create the “sense” of the action a guest is going through.

Make a list of the roles people are involved in and define the sequence and time required to enact them.

Replay the situation three – four times. Each time, try to understand the emotional layers of the situation. Then add elements you forgot at the beginning.

Video record the re-enactment, playing different roles each time. Assign one team member to observe and take notes.

After the exercise, watch the video and listen to the observer’s notes. What parts of the process can be changed to make the experience more enjoyable to the guest? What types of training are needed for your volunteers to make that happen? Are there any physical or space layouts that can be improved?

Leaders who practice design thinking are energized by the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with constant change. These leaders don’t accept the hand-me-down notion that cost cutting and innovation are mutually exclusive, or that short-term and long-term goals are irreconcilable. They reject the tyranny of “or” in favor of the genius of “and.”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 98-3, released August 2018


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

Good Design Gets You in the Game…

…great design is the game winner.

Welcome to the world where design is king.

 

In the old days, designers were an afterthought, the people at the end of the production process. Engineers would hand over something that was functionally effective and have the designers make it look good. Those days are over.

Today, design is about experiences as well as products. It’s about services as much as it is hard goods.

Design is now differentiation.

Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and author of “Rules of Thumb,” puts it this way: Today companies use design to:

  • create distinctive products and services that capture their customers’ imaginations
  • restructure their corporate operations
  • unveil new logos and uniforms that express a fresh corporate identity
  • develop new communications tools that connect with customers and shareholders
  • build corporate offices that encourage and enable collaboration
  • collect and share information across a global platform

Design is a way to solve deep-seated social problems. And design is a money saver, a way to simplify products and make them easier and less expensive to manufacture and sell. Across the board designers have defines a way of seeing that adds to the delight of customers and the profitability of companies.

Application to ChurchWorld

You probably already understand this on some level. You understand that the design of your website says more about you and provides a quick glimpse of your “brand”. You know that the little – and not so little – things like the design of your logo and your letterhead, the print pieces you use, the “flow” of your worship experience all communicate instantly what your church is all about.

But if you are still a design novice, and want to learn more, here are Webber’s three ways to begin to crack the design code:

  • Reading – you may be a word person and you want to try to learn about seeing. Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” Tim Brown’s “Design Thinking,” Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation” and “The Ten Faces of Innovation,” Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s “Designing for Growth,” and Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” are required reading. Get one of them today; start reading it tonight, and put it into action tomorrow.
  • Viewing – You need to practice seeing. Go to an art museum; browse a furniture showroom gallery; check out the latest model cars. The more you look at objects like these, the more you appreciate great design. You’re not buying, so don’t worry about price. Look carefully at the lines, interior detailing and design, and the small things that make a big difference. “Seeing” is a critical skill for aspiring diagnosticians – like you.
  • Shopping – Go out and find an assortment of small objects that go in your home or office. Look at OXO products; visit an IKEA store. When you pick up one of these objects, you will immediately understand what “consumer-centered design” means. Go to an office supply store and sit in an Aeron chair. Look at the latest products from Apple: iPhone, iPad, the latest MacBook Air. Go to an antique store and see what great design looked like in the past. Take a virtual shopping trip to your heart’s content. When you have collected these objects (or examined them enough), what do these products have in common? Are they as good to look at as they are fun to use? Is there an emotional content to their design?

You don’t have to buy anything to get the idea. But you do have to buy into the idea:

Design is everywhere, and increasingly, design is everything.

 

What is the Foundation of Design Thinking?

It’s the willing and even enthusiastic acceptance of competing constraints.

The first stage of the design process is often about discovering which constraints are important and establishing a framework for evaluating them. Constraints can best be visualized in terms of three overlapping criteria for successful ideas:

  • Feasibility – what is functionally possible within the foreseeable future
  • Viability – what is likely to become part of a sustainable business model
  • Desirability – what makes sense to people and for people

A competent designer will resolve each of these three constraints, but a design thinker will bring them into a harmonious balance.

This pursuit of peaceful coexistence does not imply that all constraints are created equal; a given project may be disproportionately by technology, budget, or a mix of human factors. Different types of organizations may push one or another of them to the forefront. Nor is it a simple linear process. Design teams will cycle back through all three considerations throughout the life of a project, but the emphasis is on fundamental human needs – as distinct from fleeting or artificially manipulated desires.

That’s what drives design thinking to depart from the status quo.

Questions for ChurchWorld leaders:

  1. What are the constraints facing you today?
  2. Can you classify them into the 3 categories listed above?
  3. How will you balance them?

inspired by and adapted from Change by Design, by Tim Brown

Change by Design

Creating an Experience Blueprint

The past few posts have given you a basic understanding of some of the foundations of guest services. Now it’s time to go back to school – design school.

Becoming an Experience Architect

One of the game-changing concepts related to guest services comes from Tim Brown’s book “Change by Design”. Brown, the CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO, has challenged my thinking about design in a number of ways: it’s not just for creative industries or people designing products. Design thinking is most powerful when applied to abstract, multifaceted problems that address a wide range of issues and concerns.

Problems that the typical church encounters every day!

Here’s a great example from one chapter on the design of experience:

Design has the power to enrich our lives by engaging our emotions through image, form, texture, color, sound and smell. The intrinsically human-centered nature of design thinking points to the next step: we can use our empathy and understanding of people to design experiences that create opportunities for active engagement and participation.

Wow-that’s a lot to think about! In the world of serving the church where I work and live, the concepts of designing for experience are so important, yet so often totally overlooked. Brown goes on to talk about 3 “themes” of the design of experiences:

  • The experience economy – people have shifted from passive consumption to active participation
  • Best experiences are not scripted at corporate headquarters but decided on the spot by service professionals who create an authentic, genuine, and compelling experience
  • Implementation is everything-an experience must be as finely crafted and precision-engineered as any other product

Just as a product begins with an engineering blueprint and a building with an architectural blueprint, an experience blueprint provides the framework for working out the details of a human interaction, including emotive elements, from beginning to end.

It captures how people travel through an experience in time. Rather than trying to choreograph that journey, its function is to identify the most meaningful points and turn them into opportunities to positively impact the individual. What might be a source of discomfort or pain is now an opportunity for an experience that is distinctive, emotionally gratifying, and memorable.

The experience blueprint is at one and the same time a high-level strategy document and a fine-grained analysis of the details that matter.

It’s time to create an Experience Blueprint for your Guest Services!

The Spaces of Design Thinking

Design thinkers know that there is no one “best way” to move through the process.

The continuum of innovation is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. You can think of them as:

  • Inspiration – the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions
  • Ideation – the process of generating, developing, and testing
  • Implementation – the path that leads from the project room to the market

Projects may loop back through these spaces more than once as the team refines its ideas and explores new directions.

The reason for the iterative, nonlinear nature of the journey is not that design thinkers are disorganized or undisciplined but that design thinking is fundamentally an exploratory process; done right it will invariably make unexpected discoveries along the way, and it would be foolish not to find out where they lead.

– Tim Brown, Change by Design

Leaders in ChurchWorld need to be design thinkers…

What spaces are you moving through today?