The current global pandemic tremendously impacted people’s lives, health, family, daily routine and ultimately how business operate. A recent survey conducted by Telstra with global C-suite executives and IT decision makers found that 93% businesses changed their business strategies, IT budget and overall business priorities due to COVID 19.
A deeper assessment shows that most of these changes were knee jerk reactions to accommodate a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). This is comprehensible due to the unprecedented crisis situation. While most businesses have a BCP in place now, the next biggest challenge for leaders irrespective of their vertical is to re-imagine their businesses that not only ensures business continuity but also catalyses competitive advantage going forward.
Overcoming the barrier of Physical Communication
To grow and thrive in today’s world, designing human-centered user experience is crucial. In fact, leveraging Design Thinking approach to drive such strategic shifts is not new. A well-executed design thinking engagement ensures true divergence of ideas during brainstorming and timely convergence to business outcomes like – improving volumes, margins and reducing cost to serve. These coupled with the right stakeholder audience representation helps to create value for businesses and connect with consumers in a meaningful, memorable way.
The reservations, however, arise from the fact that design thinking engagements needs people around. The use of massive charts to draw journey maps, thinking cards to spur discussions, highlighting moments of truths with dozens of sticky notes, and managing constructive chaos among key stakeholders have always been an integral part in such engagements. How can then one expect these engagements to still be effective and reliable for such macro decision-making with humongous consequences thereafter?
Let’s face it, though there are a ton of virtual design thinking tools available in the market for a long time, we tend to avoid them or at least deprioritize their use. However, with the current crisis, the design teams across the globe are now embracing these tools to orchestrate virtual design thinking sessions. In fact, the teams truly adapting to virtual sessions and utilizing these tools effectively will emerge as winners.
Virtual Design Thinking is the Key
Virtual design thinking sessions, when conducted smartly can become the biggest drivers of change – be it managing shifting priorities, realigning business strategies or reoptimizing budgets for businesses across verticals.
In fact, there are various online tools and methods helpful in driving productive and path-breaking workshops for new-age problems in a remote set-up. Below are the steps that should be followed:
- Break the problem into right sized functional blocks
To enable valuable sessions, conduct exercises and discussions with a small audience size of about 8-12 members. This ensures participation while also prevents dominant opinions within a group. It is also necessary to co-create these discussion blocks carefully to accommodate proper stakeholder mapping for each block.
- Manage time and frequency to keep sessions interesting
Any session which stretches beyond 90 minutes becomes disengaging. Hence, 30-90 minutes long sessions on alternate working days gives enough breathing space for pre/post session exercises, surveys, etc.
- Bond virtually
Clarify the agenda and outcomes expected beforehand and keep a timer ON during the interactive sessions. A helpful way to inspire bonding is to encourage video-based conversations. In fact, spending the first 5 minutes in general chitchat, exploring with zoom background options etc. are some of the ways to compensate for the bonding that happens in physical mode.
- Use pre-worked trigger cards and mock-ups
Sometimes researching on best-in-class systems and features from completely unrelated industries proves helpful. For instance, a mock-up from a disruptive news aggregator that crawls the most recent news from various public sources can be an inspiration for envisioning a system to digitally discover new suppliers of a category. This can help drive unmatched and sustainable competitive advantage.
- Leverage cards and categories
After shortlisting the desired features, card-category alignment of optimal workshops must be leveraged to virtually align features with 5 pre-defined system areas. Doing this individually, ensures that all opinions are a part of the considerations and no stakeholder is missed out.
- Analyse together
After the groups define the prioritized features and their correlations with identified systems, the results of the consolidation analysis must be demonstrated to the larger group. Perform this activity through a standardization grid to identify how most features resided smoothly in the business context while some created noise through erroneous correlations. In fact, the system categorization must also be performed together through optimal workshop’s 3D visualized cluster tool to simplify the process what otherwise would be taxing and complex process.
- Persona building questionnaires
The virtual design thinking tool also helps in launching quick online surveys, the assimilation of which leads to creation of in-depth stakeholder personas.
These steps if executed correctly, will help achieve an unmatched visibility as a strategic partner and help drive ROI and business even in such a remote set-up. The beauty in this experience lies not just in the process but in how radically the process translates to well defined outcomes.
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