Thursday, April 10, 2008

Henning Asks Peter Coughlan About IDEO's Transformation Practice

IDEO on transformation practices ...

"Henning Fischer recently had an email conversation with Peter Coughlan, Partner and Transformation Practice Lead at IDEO. They discussed IDEO’s transformation practice and his team’s processes to create a more human-centered design. Peter will be presenting on at our upcoming MX San Francisco — Managing Experience Through Creative Leadership — conference on April 20-22.

Henning Fischer [HF]: What is IDEO’s Transformation by Design practice?

Peter Coughlan [PC]: IDEO’s transformation practice helps clients become more innovative, customer- or employee-centered, sustainable. We do this using some core principles of design and design thinking — building empathy with stakeholders, envisioning a future, prototyping — the stuff that good human-centered design is made of, this time applied to organizations.

[HF]: What lessons has IDEO learned from working with clients in this manner? How has the practice changed over the years?

[PC]: We’ve learned a lot about the difficulty of getting people to change behavior in organizations. So, we’ve really ratcheted up certain aspects of the process — for instance, getting stakeholders to reveal what they really care about, making sure that visioning sessions are as inclusive as possible, and making change as tangible as possible inside the organization, so that people have constant reminders and prompts for behavior change.

[HF]: How do you get visioning sessions to be inclusive as possible without the too many cooks in the kitchen problem?

[PC]: You use visioning sessions as divergent activities — you’re trying to get as many ideas, from as many different perspectives, as possible. So, to extend your metaphor, during a visioning session you’re not yet started cooking — you’re just getting people to contribute ingredients. They of course can have an opinion about what ingredients they like (which is important feedback, and you should gather that feedback in order to help you decide what you’re going to make).

[HF]: In terms of creating tangible changes that serve as reminders and prompts of behavior change, can you give some examples? In the past Adaptive Path has created artifacts like booklets, t-shirts and posters to help refocus client teams. We have found them effective for shorter periods, but they occasionally become part of the furniture. How do you avoid that?

[PC]: What you’re describing is more along the lines of promotional items. What I was talking about is artifacts that give you an excuse to behave differently. One of my favorite examples comes from a hospital that wanted to help reduce their patients’ worry levels while they were waiting for (chemo) treatment. A very simple idea they had was to just go up to patients and ask them if they had any worries, any questions that they could address. It turned out that doing that — going up to patients and asking them questions — was very awkward and difficult to do. So they created an artifact to help them get over that awkwardness — a set of question cards that they shared with patients to help break the ice and provide something to talk about. It turned out to be a wonderful way to prompt new behavior on the part of patients and providers. Even if the question cards do become a part of the furniture, that’s okay — they helped the care providers overcome a fear and scaffold a new behavior.

[HF]: How do you get clients to trust what in the surface is a seemingly simple process?

[PC]: Clients almost never trust the process until they’ve experienced it directly! So we try to build in experiential sessions very early in our relationship so that clients have the confidence to trust us and the process we lead them through."    (Continued via adaptive path)    [Usability Resources]

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