Innovation and Creativity are two important factors for any organization to identify new solutions and meet challenges. Where creativity is the idea generation, innovation is the implementation of those ideas for better processes and procedures. Innovation is vital for sustaining competitiveness and requires strong and engaged talent. As HR has a critical role in developing an engaged talent, it is prudent to design innovative solutions. So, how can HR design systems and solutions that foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration within the organization? ‘HR Design’ is one approach that serves the purpose, by aligning HR with Design Thinking. This enables HR to think beyond the traditional approach and focus on intended outcomes and experience. Design Thinking brings an innovative approach to HR by changing the way it organizes work and provides solutions in creating superior employee experiences. It transforms HR from a “process developer” to an “experience architect”. Design thinking for HR is what TQM for manufacturing as it helps the former create an easily adaptable culture and drive organization competitiveness. Being people-centric both HR and design thinking focusses on customers, with empathy as a crucial element of practice. Empathy is a core principle of Design thinking which makes it relevant for HR especially when dealing with employee issues. The HR design approach can further be used to improve on many areas of HR, including recruiting, onboarding, performance management, workplace design, and L&D. This can be utilized to deliver talent capabilities linked to HR and business strategy. Having known the relevance of design thinking to HR let’s explore how it can be used with various domains of HR to deliver value.
Recruitment – Many of the recruiting challenges can be addressed through a human-centered approach, helping recruiters improve on processes and workflows. Where Empathy can help the hiring team to ascertain the expectations of candidates and recruits, ideation and prototype help to identify new solutions in improving the overall human experience. It helps you identify the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of the interviewing experience.
Onboarding process – There is a truth in the saying that “First Impression is the last impression” and the impression new hires make on their onboarding is an analogy. HR should develop and maintain a connection with new hires from selection until onboarding to create a feeling of trust amongst them. Empathizing can help to know and understand them better and creates meaningful onboarding experiences with less reliance on hectic paperwork and time taken procedures.
Employee Relations – This is the responsibility of HR to create and maintain a positive relationship with the workforce to keep them loyal and engaged. With an empathy-driven approach to design, HR can easily address disputes and issues, concerning all parties. This is also beneficial in developing suitable policies and procedures and address employees’ doubts and concerns related to them.
Training and Development – The principle of design thinking can be applied to T&D in deeply understanding and implementing a performance solution in line with employee’s needs. Bringing a human-centered approach to L&D through design can help in continuous improvement, overcoming challenges, and design an engaging, meaningful, and lasting learning experience
Exit Formalities – Employees are brand ambassadors for an organization. While most companies remain busy creating a better candidate and employee experience it is equally important to improve on exit experience. As the business landscape becomes uncertain exits and layoffs are inevitable. In this Covid situation, there are headlines everywhere about layoffs and job cuts. It is unfortunate to part ways from people, but HR can mould this experience by treating them with respect, care, and dignity. HR can strive to create a great experience by understanding the feelings and apprehensions of employees during exit which could help in designing a suitable severance package and compassionate outplacement support.
Vendor Management – This is one of the important functions for HR especially when a key process like payroll, compliances are outsourced to external agencies. The concept of design thinking can be applied to build empathy around the needs of both vendors and partners. This helps in identifying problem statements, brainstorming ideas, and alignment of intended services to achieve organizational goals.
Design thinking can also be used to improve other areas of HR including performance management, compensation and benefits, and workflow design. Companies like Apple, Google, Cisco, IBM, and many others have already adopted the concept of design thinking to develop innovative HR solutions
There is a change in the business landscape that is transforming the way we solve problems, and design thinking is one such approach that promotes involvement across different functions and develops a collaborative approach to the organization. Continuous testing of what works and what doesn’t leads to the creation of a happier, efficient, and effective workplace. This offers a huge advantage in attracting and retaining quality talent and positions the organization as an employer of choice. Hence design thinking offers a powerful tool to build talent capabilities linked to business and develops a conducive organizational culture.
So, how open is your HR to align with Design Thinking in delivering talent capabilities.
Design Thinking has become a buzz word in the field of engineering and business. Design Thinking is a new concept which aims towards tackling complex issues through a human-centric approach. Because of its solutions-oriented design, many businesses are using it to innovate and develop new products or services. It can not only help in improving the user experience for a particular gadget but also address social problems (ex- water conservation efforts from government agencies, tackling malnutrition problems in children, The Sternin’s work in Vietnam). Many organizations, whether public, profit, not for profit is using design thinking to develop better products and services. But the best aspect of design thinking is that it is not only confined to businesses or social problems but can also be used at a personal level to develop solutions for our day to day problems. Appropriate use of logic, intuition, and reasoning can help us implement design thinking to handle any life situation.
Life is full of challenges, and none of us is exempt. However, life situations of every individual are different, but there are common challenges and conditions which create suffering and end in disappointment. But these are the instances which help us learn and become a better person if we tackle them appropriately. If we see from a development perspective, our life challenges give us an opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement if we embrace them joyfully. We can easily overcome them and become the best version of ourselves by handling them tactfully with patience. We are talking about the application of design thinking in solving our life problems because it helps us identify our problems, brainstorm bold new ideas to make a better impact on our life. This leads to fruitful results making our lives more agile, happy, and contented. Let’s explore how we can align the concept of design thinking with our life’s challenges-
Empathize – This is the first stage where you encounter the situation. It might be any condition or challenge of your life like/ career, love, relationship, business, health, or financial issues. Applying design thinking to the situation, we empathize with ourselves to know why the situation has developed, how and when it is impacting us, and our behavior. In short, we visualize the situation, pattern; identify the relations and implications of the same.
Define – Once we identify the situation we try to identify the incidents which trigger the situation, for example, if I’m not feeling energetic during the day, is it because I slept late, last night, or didn’t exercise today. My fatigue feeling activates my senses to identify any situation that leads to such behavior and can help me avoid such incidents.
Ideate – After identifying the real problem we now can work to find out ways to overcome them in the best possible manner. Here we can brainstorm to generate ideas to address the situation, like working on a morning routine, setting up a bed-time alarm, etc. The intention is to address the problem by generating as many solutions and compare them to select suitable ones. You can ideate on the possible ways that you can take to achieve a bigger objective (i.e. resolving the problem statement)
Prototype – This involves the selection of the most appropriate course of action after evaluating all the ideas or solutions identified in the last stage. In the above example, we will focus to see the alignment of identified ideas with the user, whether they are in sync with user lifestyle, daily routine, personal or professional commitments. Based on this we can apply fresh insights to advance or modify the identified solutions.
Test – This is one of the most important steps of the design thinking process. It helps us identify which solution works best for the user. Considering the above problem, the person decides to work-out in early hours, but is not consistent because of a busy morning routine. It means that the identified morning work-out solution doesn’t work for him. Similarly, some activities are energizing, while others can drain energy in your daily routine. Hence this is the step that tests out things and helps us know what works or whatnot.
We should keep in mind that design thinking can be applied to solve any problem of life which helps us in building our future. Think about the technology world that always strives to develop more unique features and applications for their gadgets to meet consumer needs. It keeps them busy ideating, prototyping, and finding innovative solutions for developing more advanced user-friendly products and applications. Likewise, we can apply design thinking to any of our life challenges by continuously defining, prototyping, testing, and making adjustments until we are happy and contented with the results. So, let’s design our lives and address all of it’s challenge with the gift of design thinking.
We at HRletes apply the same concept to our clients’ need and help them provide customized solutions with quality deliveries.
Design Thinking is a creative process for problem-solving. It has a human-centric approach and helps identify new ways of seeing and understanding a problem. It is a solution-based approach because it focusses on finding solutions rather than focusing on fixing the obstacles and limitations. It focuses on people first by knowing their needs, understands related problems, and come up with effective solutions to meet their needs. In other words, design thinking is a process to come up with meaningful ideas to solve peoples’ problems. Design thinking has evolved from a range of different fields like engineering, business, and architecture. However, this applies to any area based on the processes and methods used by the designer.
We keep on facing problems in our lives/ and desire to solve them, but it is sometimes difficult to find the right solution or even where to start. That’s where the “design thinking” ideology comes in, as it helps to solve complex problems by approaching it from the user’s perspective. Design thinking is explained in various design and business schools across the globe. It has helped many businesses to become more customer-centric and come up with new and innovative solutions. It helps organizations develop better products, services, and internal processes.
Design Thinking Process
As mentioned above, the design thinking process is highly progressive and user-centric. It is foremost to know the principles which form the base of the design thinking process. Christoph Meinel and Hary Leifer of the Hasso – Plattner Institute of Design, Stanford University, California has laid down four principles of Design Thinking as listed below-
- The Human Rule –
- The Ambiguity Rule
- All design is re-design
- The Tangibility Rule
Based on the above four principles, The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (aka the d.school) describes design thinking as a five-stage process as below-
- Empathize – Involves understanding the users’ needs in their frame of reference. It marks the first stage of the design thinking process as it helps to identify the wants, need, and objectives of the users. To do it appropriately, the designer sets aside all his/her assumptions and understands the user on a psychological and emotional level to gain a real insight into their need and wants.
- Define – Its time to identify the problem statement based on the information collected in the empathize stage. You analyze the users’ needs and problems and synthesize them to develop a problem statement in a human-centered manner. Instead of defining the problem as per our wish, like “We need to get our client base in small and mid-size businesses” a much better way to define the problem would be, “Small, mid-size and many startups need HR support to run their operations at a nominal cost”. It is from this stage that the designers gather great ideas and establish features of products and services to address users’ needs. This stage advances the designer into the third stage by asking meaningful questions to explore ideas for solutions: “What business-aligned services we offer to benefit the SMBs in their smooth operations”.
- Ideate – This stage challenges our assumptions and triggers to generate ideas. The problem is apparent at this stage, and it’s time to brainstorm ways to identify solutions. The knowledge background from the last two phases helps us identify the feasibility and quality of ideas to find innovative solutions. The point is not to get a perfect idea, but rather to come up with as many ideas. It’s advisable to use sketching as it becomes easier to communicate the idea.
- Prototype – This is an experimental phase intended to find the best solution to problems identified in previous stages. The solutions are investigated and are further accepted, improved, or rejected based on users’ experience. This stage helps the designer get a clear idea of problems, still to be addressed before the final interface with the user.
- Test – This is the final stage wherein the designers test the best solutions identified during the prototype phase. It is time to revisit the problem statement and make sure the end solution is meeting the needs identified in the initial stages. Designers also make some alterations and refinements to develop a more user-centric solution. This stage also redefines one or more further problems and moves you to earlier stages making the design thinking an iterative process.
Thus, the design thinking process tackles problems by empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing solutions, and brings ideas to life, eventually resulting in successful products or services. It also fosters creativity and innovation towards complex problem-solving in a highly user-centric way. Design thinking process can be used at every level of business and also by individuals to develop better alternatives for both business and society.