1. Design thinking is for everyone
One of the biggest barriers people have embracing a design culture is that it’s such a universal term. What design means to one individual may differ greatly from what it means to another, unfortunately for those who have not been exposed to design this opinion is clouded. However, the emphasis of Design Thinking in “The Loop” is placed on the “Non-designers’, it’s aim is to be an approach that everyone is able to adopt in order for them to buy into its values and champion them individually or in teams.
As the lone designer in a team of three technical interns, who had never experience design before, I was left feeling daunted at the prospect of them coming to respect and trust my opinions. However, what makes IBM special is that they did not teach my team and me how to design but instead they taught us different methods and tools within design thinking to start solving problems and experience it first hand — I was left to facilitate this problem solving whilst my team were being exposed to how design is used in industry.
2. Fail fast, fail early
Getting started is more important than being right, failing is maybe even more important when it comes to how we understand a user-centric design approach. 6 weeks sounds like a very short amount of time to afford failure but it was actively encouraged throughout our project through continuous user testing and iteration.
It’s difficult to encourage failure, at the moment it’s not tangible but where others don’t see progress, the design allows us to see a relationship between the product and user being built through each and every setback. This is part of what made being placed within a team of three technical interns unique — It was clear they had never experienced failure so many times but it was equally as amazing to see how they slowly bought into failure being part of our design approach as the relationship with our users started to grow and our solution became clearer.
I believe that having the patience to fail is something that only comes through experience. You have to know what doesn’t work in order to really appreciate what does (and why it does). Designing at IBM allowed my team and me to quickly see these results through failure.
3. Everything is a prototype
IBM design is built around a culture that “everything is a prototype”, the concept of restless reinvention is there to push you to always trying something new. Embracing this concept in a team through your own project takes time, treating your own solutions as prototypes can be difficult for some to understand
— perhaps it’s ego, or the hard work that goes into solutions that prevents people from treating their work as a prototype, either way — it’s difficult for projects to scratch beneath the surface without reinventing it.
What IBM taught me is that the best way to tackle this concept is through a relationship with the user the product is intended for. It doesn’t matter how much work someone pours into a solution (or how badly they think they are right), when you are sitting there in a user test and the user is confused or does not know what to do next you know something has to change, you better be sure your team know it too. Over time, maybe a few weeks, once my team had seen this method in full flow, it became the driving force behind our project and helped us scratch beneath the surface of what we thought was a good idea.
4. Culture above all else
Above all else, no matter what I learnt, the most humbling part of my experience at IBM was the relationships that my project allowed my team and I to build over the course of six weeks. From IBM mentors, clients and our users, it was a really unique experience and something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. The culture at IBM allowed me to be myself, make friends and push myself for the best work I could possibly do.