Imagine you’re part of a hospital trauma unit team of nearly two dozen nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists. You’re always “at the ready”, anticipating spikes of emergency victims pouring in from car accidents, gunshot wounds, and other traumatic events.
It’s a real pressure cooker and rapid response times rule the day. Chaos and confusion can reign as a variety of team members scramble for information while making urgent life and death decisions.
At times like these, it’s crucial to know who’s in charge and to have protocols in place that prevent the communication breakdowns that can mean life or death.
Design Thinking to the Rescue
Design Thinking, a proven problem-solving approach, paved the way for two ER nurses to design and implement the use of an orange vest that would designate the medical team lead so other medical experts wouldn’t overstep their boundaries at times when every second counts.
This simple tool allowed everyone on the medical team to clearly identify the leader, quickly assemble the team, define their roles, and provide immediate support – without missing a beat.
Nurse Christina Toppozini and Senior Nurse Educator, Kerry-Lynn White introduced this innovation at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Canada.
Their orange-vest innovation is now used in other hospitals in the U.S. and is but one example of the effectiveness of Design Thinking.
What is Design Thinking?
Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, an international design and consulting firm in Palo Alto, California, states:
“Design Thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
User experience is the focus of IDEO’s Design Thinking practice. It’s rooted in the innovative practices that drive new product designs often found in consumer goods.
Three questions form the criteria for a solution based on the Design Thinking approach:
- Is it desirable from a human point of view?
- Is it technologically feasible?
- Is it economically viable?
Design Thinking empowers people who aren’t trained as designers (like the nurses) to use creative tools to address a vast range of challenges. The ideas can run the gamut from simple, low-tech solutions to the complex.
Who Uses Design Thinking?
Large Fortune 500 Corporations, like GE, IBM, Kimberly-Clark, Cisco, and Apple are among those who drive organic growth initiatives with Design Thinking to guide product development, improved processes, and well-delivered services.
Leading Healthcare Providers, including Stanford Medical, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Kaiser-Permanente all employ innovation units to create better patient products, experiences, and operational efficiencies.
Big Strategy Consulting Firms, such as Deloitte, Accenture, and McKinsey have recently hired design firms to gain the Design Thinking edge to better serve their clients.
Harvard, Stanford, Darden University of Virginia, and other, top executive education providers offer Design Thinking boot camps and courses.
How it works
There exists a variety of Design Thinking models, the most widely recognized being Stanford’s d.school framework. The process looks linear but it is actually dynamic and iterative. It begins with the needs of the person(s) whose problem you’re seeking to solve in 5 phases:
The premise is to seek to understand the user’s journey (the high and lows of their experience), and then, to brainstorm, quickly prototype the idea(s) in days/weeks, (not months/years), refine with feedback from the user and co-create the ideal solution. Human-centered, the design is fully based on users’ wants to create their best experience.
General Electric (GE) used the Design Thinking approach to improve both patient and staff experience with their MRI machine design. Objectives of increased patient comfort, operator confidence, image consistency, and staff MRI satisfaction were made possible through an in-depth study of a way to reduce a child’s fear of the body scan machine by converting it into a visually-inviting “playground/amusement park” experience. The before and after images illustrate what research and creative problem solving did to make the MRI experience both comfortable and fun.
Design Thinking in Human Resources Design Thinking is gaining more interest in HR as a way to innovate better end-to-end employee experiences, with the end goal being differentiating and reinforcing a unique employer brand designed to attract and retain top talent.
My webinar, Retaining High Performers with Design Thinking for HR, provides examples of how talent managers can continuously improve, meet, and exceed employees’ expectations (as internal customers) to minimize turnover and increase organizations’ effectiveness by eliminating unproductive tasks and processes.
The Design Thinking process offers possibilities for innovation and efficiency across every arena of life, potentially without end. Best of all, it’s a technique that’s available to everyone with the drive and a vision.