July 2020 | Commentary | Viewpoint: Logistics & Supply Chain Analysis

Four Behaviors of Design Thinking

Tags: Demand Planning, Customer Service

The pace of change inside an organization should be faster than the pace outside. This can be especially difficult in the supply chain, where it seems like keeping up with customer demand is next to impossible. Your solutions need to drive faster, more efficient production and delivery, and your competitors are just as hungry to meet that demand as you.

Mohammad Ansari, Senior Manager of Global Innovation, Brambles-CHEP, 800-243-7872

To safeguard customer loyalty and drive sustainably innovative supply chain solutions, some supply chain experts are turning to the design thinking methodology. Design thinking focuses on four key behaviors that are equally important; neglecting any one of them can unnecessarily increase risk for businesses.

Behavior 1: Framing to solve the best problem. Design-thinking principles ensure that innovations meet market needs, balancing risk with reward. The initial step is not to find an answer, but to uncover questions. This helps to discover unmet needs, which leads to hypotheses to test with customers.

The early objective is to spend as much time as possible with customers. Bringing them on-site or going directly to them is vital, because what people say and what they believe are often quite different. Continuous customer interaction helps identify the greatest problem to solve, which then produces the greatest solutions.

Behavior 2: Ideating cross-functionally to drive breakthroughs. After defining a problem statement, new ideas are generated from hundreds of smaller insights, which can come from anywhere. Experts in the same domain or function develop solutions that are typically incremental and build on the past.

Breakthroughs require a fundamentally different perspective provided by utilizing both internal cross-functional teams and external resources, such as academia and startups.

Innovation challenges, via an internal communication platform that every employee has access to, can inject energy into an organization to solve a focused and specific problem.

The platform allows for sharing new ideas, building upon others' concepts, and voting for favorite solutions. Innovation challenges can be completed internally and externally to gather ideas that would otherwise be restricted by using siloed teams.

Behaviors 3 & 4: Iterating to test for new learnings and immersing the customer to propel quicker adoption. Concepts are then iterated with customers, via controlled pilots, so that teams can gauge customers' reactions to understand what they think and feel.

To sort out where to invest, all innovations must be desirable (customers want it), viable (it will be profitable), and feasible (it can be built). Hypotheses are tested via a heavy dose of experimentation with full customer immersion.

Confirmation bias can be a challenge during testing. When an idea is vetted, it is human nature to find evidence to support the idea and subconsciously ignore all refuting evidence. This leads to solutions that seem great but ultimately fail. To address this, adopt the mantra of falling in love with the problem and not the solution.

Design Thinking Drives Innovation

For most customers, novelty is not a key factor. They want relevancy, and the design thinking approach safeguards this by helping to ensure that customers are involved at every step in the process. Design thinking provides a real opportunity to accelerate the pace of innovation for customers at much-reduced cost and time risks to the core business.






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