Category: Design Thinking

Design Thinking 2019 Interview – Part 3


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What are your biggest Design Thinking/Human Centered Design related priorities?


To address this last question, I would like to start with a quick recap a panel discussion, which I was involved in a recent engineering conference.

We should first run a sanity check and ask ourselves and those who we work and collaborate with: if we  are not prioritizing Human Factors in design… who are we ultimately designing for?

If the immediate answer is not about optimizing for the human experience, then let’s think through our other options: robot overlords? the zombie uprising? an alien invasion? Admittedly, it took the audience just a little while to process the underlying humor. I must confess that being thought-provoking by playing the contrarian card can be a challenging exercise in a public setting.


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In any case, there is a need for identifying unnecessary risks behind the so-called “if you build it, they will come” approach, which can promote technical prowess alone at the expense of human-centered design considerations, and compromise the overall project.

The negative impact of a techno-centric only strategy can manifest itself as: (a) mounting technical debt due to unforeseen usability impairments, (b) re-work, latency and hidden costs, and (c) the sort of opportunity costs in project financials and resource allocation that can deny the implementation of alternative user-friendly options.


Stage-setting and rhetorical questions aside… the business value of design is directly correlated to how we diligently design Quality considerations into any offerings.

This is not just about “left-shifting” practices and procedures to prevent “back-end loaded” issues. It does require institutionalizing Design at the front-end… and throughout the process.


Juran on Quality by DesignBack in the early 1990s, J.M. Juran’s classic, Quality by Design, discussed two angles: a product’s better value and freedom from deficiencies, as well as the degree to which “fitness for use” could be the quality principle connecting them both.

He also made the point about misalignment between product design and the underlying operations & business processes over the product’s lifecycle.

Three decades have gone by and Design-to-Value and Operational Excellence go hand by hand. Most importantly, Design Thinking places the emphasis on “empathy,” which is how we, on the business side, learn and also “experience” what matters to users and stakholders.

In Nokia’s context, Quality Experiences are enabled by capable technologies (e.g. Design Thinking’s technical feasibility) and business model viability.


Nokia at MWC 2019


One of my priorities is to further the scope of Nokia’s QXbD, Quality Experiences by Design. That goal specifically addresses “UseCaseAbility” in a collaborative fashion to craft optimal superior offerings, OSO.

QXbD embraces the qualitative and quantitative nature of the following four dimensions applied to the front and back-end environment continuum over the lifecycle:

  • usefulness and effectiveness
  • utility, consumability and efficiency
  • usability, adaptability and lifelong accessibility
  • affectivity (desirability, adoption, delight, loyalty)

Settling for good-enough and table-stakes customer satisfaction is deemed sub-optimal. And, therefore, design efforts are sized, adequately equipped and optimized to succeed.


Design Thinking 2019 Intevew – Part 1

Design Thinking 2019 Interview – Part 2


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Design Thinking 2019 Interview – Part 2


Design Thinking 2019 Blog Banne

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How would you define your organization’s maturity to Design Thinking?


Nokia Corporation


cropped-Jose-de-Francisco-LinkedIn-3Nokia is a Fortune’s Global 500 corporation headquartered in Finland, which involves in excess of 100,000 employees worldwide. Most of us joined the company in recent years… which I think is nothing short from fascinating.

Nowadays, Nokia is a top B2B player in large scale digital communication technologies. Most specifically: 5G, Internet of Things, Cloud and Software just to list some well-known examples.

R. Siilasmaa’s recent book, “Transforming Nokia,” discusses what it took to pull off the company’s dramatic recovery in the past few years, while noting that this is not the first time that we reinvent ourselves since 1865. His leadership style is characterized by “Paranoid Optimism,” which I’d like to discuss in context later on.


Nokia Studio 3


At Nokia Studio we intertwine disciplines such as Data Visualization, Cybernetics and Behavioral Economics to design state of the art Decision Support Systems for next-generation digital services. These are Human-Machine-Systems (HMS.)

Given our focus on game changing innovations, Human-Centered-Design (HCD) happens to be a critical success factor at all stages in the iterative exploration, definition, introduction and broader diffusion of emerging and next generation technologies Design Thinking’s desirability, technical feasibility and business viability are, therefore, well understood critical success factors.


Nokia Studio 4


The Studio’s research addresses how to clearly articulate early desirability coupled with market-pull & outside-in strategies.  Thinking through the business value of design signals the need for removing friction from a B2B journey that involves formal contractual acceptance as the accounting trigger behind revenue recognition.

Geoffrey A. Moore’s classic, “Crossing the Chasm,” and Clayton M. Christensen’s best-seller “The Innovator’s Dilemma” make all of us mindful of the need for addressing the journey between early adopters (FOA, first office application, in the telecoms sector) and adequately scaling in the marketplace.

This means expanding across segments and industries to leverage economies of scale and, therefore, continuous improvement and innovation. Following that train of thought, consistently and predictably delivering superior satisfaction levels in the form of customer delight becomes a decisive and sustainable competitive advantage.


Nokia Studio 5


Our Studio is engaged in large, sophisticated and fluid projects that involve inter-domain undertakings. Successful cross-pollination intersects three dimensions:

  • going wide across domains to take down silos and deep on a domain basis to best leverage our know-how
  • tightly or loosely coupled integration in the value-chain / supply-chain ecosystem
  • in-house and external collaboration in alignment with the above

While purposely implied by the naming, it is worth highlighting that our home-grown QXbD, Quality Experiences by Design, methodology zeroes in on delivering meaningful, differentiated and measurable quality outcomes that are tangible to our customers.

Nokia QXbD has been conceived as a meta-discipline that can be deconstructed and re-shaped on a project and sought-after outcomes basis. We can, therefore, not just start agile but also remain truly lean to effectively get the job done.


Transforming NokiaAs introduced early on, Risto’s Transforming Nokia, discusses the impact of “Paranoid Optimism” which is also explicitly captured in the book’s subtitle. Tactically speaking, that means: leveraging the hindsight that comes from analyzing lessons learned, the thought process that leads to both obvious and hidden insights, as well as applying creative tensions and foresight to flush-out not just one single path forward, but alternative different scenarios for consideration.

In that context, Optimism in design fosters the pursuit of an ambitious game changing scenario. Being purposely Paranoid involves the sort of predictive and responsive monitoring that prompts and guides necessary reality checks and course corrections… and even pivoting in a timely fashion. This acknowledges the ripple effects and moving targets that arise when innovating and/or transforming which, when ignored, can derail any well-intended transformation effort.


Nokia at Mobile World Congress 2019


Interestingly enough, Jim Collins’ painstaking research behind “Great by Choice” outlined that Productive Paranoia is a critical success factor. He exemplifies companies that have consistently delivered 10x results by outperforming competitors in bull and bear market conditions. Jim defines Productive Paranoia as a must-have business obsession, where contingency planning and risk mitigation are of the essence.


Paul Romer, World Bank Chief Economist and last year’s Nobel laureate, makes the case for Conditional Optimism and innovation being the outcome of the marketplace’s “discovery machine.” He differentiates between complacent and conditional optimism.

The complacent kind relies on deploying hard work to make things happen, and keep iterating, while hoping for the best by setting things in motion… also described as blind optimism. Conditional Optimism focuses on proactively finding solutions to problems, and closely monitoring outcomes thru the transformation journey.


Long story short… in Nokia’s context, Design Thinking maturity can be measured by our optimism as we strive to deliver state of the art technologies that augment and expand human possibilities, coupled with paranoid and creative tensions as we purposely obsess with delivering quality experiences.


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Design Thinking 2019 Interview – Part 1


Design Thinking 2019

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When did Design Thinking/Human Centered Design become a priority in your career?

 


Jose de Francisco - LinkedIn 3I recall zooming out every once in a while at elementary school just to grasp the obvious fact that some grown ups would have conceived every single object that exists anywhere in the world… and whatever else was yet to come anytime in the future.

Intriguingly, even simple items would look intricate and complex enough to me when noticing all sorts of tiny details. At that early age I wondered if a single individual could possibly come up with all sorts of different objects… and if everything had been designed from scratch at some point.

So, I vividly remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the staggering scope of what it would actually take to recreate my surroundings if I were to conceive each thing, big and small, on my own. That was mind-boggling and really hard to conceptualize back then.

The next minute I would put my mind at ease by zooming back in whatever contraption I was assembling. That typically involved a patchwork of worn out plastic bricks and school stationery items. All good enough to hold stuff together and to go a bit beyond squarish shapes. Other times, I would just draw what I couldn’t build and fantasize about it.

Either way, the entertaining game of making something interesting came with a kid’s craftsmanship pride. My father took notice and always displayed unconditional parental encouragement. So, he became the human my gadgets were centered on.


Jose de Francisco Design Portfolio


Admittedly, my early design work was directed by what I was personally interested in. In hindsight, operating within one’s belief system only while striving to deliver a signature design… might, or might not, match what is really needed. That becomes a hit or miss scenario, rather than adequately setting up a project for success.

Basically, success was based on the chance around (a) one’s own thinking was in lock-step with (b) consumer sentiment, (c) production economics and, most importantly, (d) the context of the end-user experience, instead of researching those first.

While “flying our on jets” (aka dogfooding) equips us with invaluable first hand insights to better design, we need to be aware of the fact that the designer might not necessarily share the optics and expectations of the target users. What’s obvious to us might not be that clear for everyone else, and the opposite is also true.

Purposely optimizing and professionally obsessing for and about meaningful human-centered outcomes was an acquired taste. Fortunately enough, role model professors and peers, coaches and mentors made all the difference.


Escola Massana and Library


Prioritizing and intersecting psychological, physiological and sociological considerations became an unequivocal expectation throughout my undergrad studies in Industrial Design at Massana Centre d’Art i Disseny. The most influential professors came from the worlds of architecture and industrial design, as well as fine arts, history and journalism.

The compelling effectiveness of people-first problem-solving was solidified by a grad degree in Human Factors Engineering at BarcelonaTECH. Dr. Pedro Mondelo, the program’s director at UPC, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, emphasized the delivery of lean (efficient) and highly productive (effective) systems, which was best achieved with human-centered and customer-focused methodologies. I’m glad to share that I was part of the 1991 class, the first one in Spain.

Things definitely came together for me by 1994. My paper on design and ergonomics for INSHT’s publication (Department of Labor, Government of Spain) addressed those and other related topics in context.


MIT IDSS Advisory Board Member


A few years later, I joined the MBA program at Chicago’s DePaul University as a Honeywell Be Brilliant Scholar, which introduced me to Behavioral Economics and seminal studies on choice, valuation and decision-making. In my view, Behavioral Economics is integral to Design Thinking’s Business Viability principle.

More recently, an MIT certificate on Big Data & Social Analytics focusing on the field of Human Dynamics and Social Physics brought along data science’s ability to scale Human-Machine-Systems. I have had the privilege to serve at MIT’s Advisory Board for IDSS, Institute of Data, Systems and Society, over the past few years, and I am now grateful for the opportunity to join CMP’s Design & Innovation Advisory Board.


Nokia Studio - DSS Design 1


As a Nokia Studio Head and Distinguished Member of Bell Labs, I pay my respects to those early BL pioneers who assembled the first interdisciplinary team devoted to Human-Factors-Engineering in the high-tech industry all the way back in 1947.

The Studio at Nokia’s Software Group thrives as an open collaborative environment involving customers and partners. Our workspace displays legendary Bell Labs artifacts as a proud reminder of our community’s ingenuity and source of inspiration.

BL’s leadership and foresight also coined the “creative technologist” job to overcome the kind of technical myopia that silos can inflict, and also stated “Designing for People” as the mission to innovate. BL is now part of Nokia’s family and joins the vision to deliver thoughtful technologies for a connected world that is “Expanding Human Possibilities.”


Nokia Studio 1.jpg


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