Scaling Design Thinking with the Flexible Product Development Process


Flexible Product Development Process – Introduction

We have been training and coaching in Design Thinking for about three years. We guide teams through the process in workshops, point out pitfalls and actively work on the attitude of teams and organizations. The enthusiasm is there, the learning effect is great and the feedback is often very positive.

One thing made us think again and again: It’s nice to know a Design Thinking Team in the company that takes care of the great new ideas. But how could we deal with a complete change in the way we work?

One thing made us think again and again: It’s nice to know a Design Thinking Team in the company that takes care of the great new ideas. But how could we improve and adapt our way of working so that it fits in perfectly with this approach?

In this article, I will not dive too deeply into the subject of agile working. Nevertheless I would like to point out a few links:

The concrete question of the broad design approach in companies has remained largely unanswered to this day. For this reason we have developed a solution that we would like to share here:

Main problems solved with the Flexible Product Development Process

  1. Design thinking teams are self-directed, free radicals in regular exchange with customers. But largely alone when it comes to technical support and feedback within the company.
  2. Multiple design thinking teams within a company work independently. This can be good as long as there are no touch points. However, if there are points of contact, there is no room for improvement in terms of time, know-how and resources.
  3. A company works on the foundation of a vision or a comprehensive strategy. It is the task of the Design Thinking Teams to implement, enrich or question them in the best possible way. A team alone in a company? Feasible in practice – but difficult. The overarching coordination simplifies the insight and enforces the adjustment more easily.
  4. Finally, the deadlines associated with design thinking and collaboration. Frameworks such as SCRUM, Less and SAFe offer some suggestions for coordinating meetings. In Design Thinking – especially in separate teams – this coordination is missing. If the company is deeply interested in the further development of the teams, the involvement of the personnel in the process steps of different teams or the coordination of user groups and sponsors, this situation quickly turns out to be difficult.


The scaling approach (behind the scenes)

The scaling approach is as simple as effective. We combine design thinking with Kanban. Kanban enables us to create a comprehensive view and scales the Flexible Product Development Process. The combination not only allows a quick entry into the area of scaling, but also the individual responsibility of the teams is maintained. In addition, the approach enables support, coordination, transparency and feedback from cross-sectional instances.

These three elements are the essential building blocks of the process:

  • A uniformly formulated Design Thinking Challenge, which is represented by a Kanban card and contains additional information: Team, status in the design thinking process, information about the original challenge as well as mentoring and document storage.
  • A kanban board built according to the process steps of design thinking. To give an overview of the different team statuses and as a central presentation anchor for the entire company.
  • Defined roles to support a smooth process and the design thinking teams. In addition, static teams help us to take on far-reaching tasks. This includes, for example, coordinating user groups or implementing solution ideas if the Design Thinking Team is unable to handle the task.

Enclosed is our presentation for illustration via Slideshare.


Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

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