Reviewed on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
Thank you note.
Special thanks to Nokia’s own Terri Edmudns and Rose Martin for all of the help that went into scheduling and setting up the Studio’s session on Design Thinking.
Our campus was packed with participants and PDC volunteers. I apologize about not being able to complete my thank you note here since I am missing quite a few other names at the time of writing this.
PDC19’s Design Thinking Session.
“Diversity of Thought and Creative Tensions as Innovation Toolset” was the theme of our discussions at the Studio where HCD, Human Centered Design, and HFE, Human Factors Engineering, practices are center stage.
The job in hand.
Nokia’s Venture Studio leverages a meta-methodology combining practices such as Design Thinking and DTV, Design to Value to name some examples.
Our workstyle intentionally seeks “Diversity of Thought” and “Creative Tensions” so that we can better explore and craft genuine creative solutions. The more complex the problem in front of us, the more relevant our line of work becomes.
Our job entails applying a variety of optics, looking for both visible and hidden patterns as well as identifying outliers and anomalies. We expand our range of vision through Cartesian skepticism and unconstrained analysis. Basically, pressing the “reset button” and thinking twice in a matter of speaking.
(Design) thinking twice.
The workflow iterates thru adaptive DPCs, Design & Prototyping Cycles, and converges by pressing the “freeze button” to articulate a constrained synthesis with the information and insights available at that point of time.
A project flow is not necessarily linear. We can move forward, backward and sideways… re-focus, deep dive and zoom out as necessary. But, “paralysis by analysis” is not an option: we are always operating on design and prototyping mode.
Note that we can redefine problem areas and shape technological solutions in novel ways. Nothing is a given. Discovery can lead to transitioning from solving for “problem X” (e.g. known needs and usual suspects) to a new and game changing “opportunity Y” addressing otherwise unsuspected areas.
Concrete scenarios and real options.
On the critical path, the interim outcome is the generation of parameterized “A/…/N options” and decisioning models that guide and inform: value, priorities, benefits, risks and trade-offs, which feed the valuation model.
Diversity of Thought takes true diversity and interdisciplinary teamwork, coupled with “outside-in” and “inside-out” feedback-loop cycles, dismantling silos that otherwise impose arbitrary boundaries, paralysis by analysis or the latency and suboptimal effects of design by committee.
About Nokia PDC 2019.
Nokia PDC’s scope goes beyond formal training to cross-pollinate and facilitate serendipity. All of that involves know-how sharing, new connections and networking activities to better collaborate.
At the back end we experience growth at individual, team and organizational levels. Thanks again for the opportunity to be part of this conference this year.
“This year, we not only explore deeper clarity as to the definition of Service Design but take a step back and evaluate what differentiates Service Design, areas of priority, and aspects that remain continuous across all avenues of HCD, human-centered design.”
“While the focus will be the native principles of Service Design—backstage players, service strategy, blueprinting, co-creation, customer centricity—we also acknowledge a singular definition may not be appropriate as the market transforms.”
“The more interesting pieces of Service Design include the narrative as organizations evolve in the experience economy, heavily reflected in our theme: Vision to Transformation.”
“From first hearing about this “HCD thing” to garnering buy-in and quick wins, scaling, getting C-Suite support, redesigning services & infrastructure, and design transformation all the way to the goal of futures design.”
Reviewed on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
Desing & Innovation Advisory Board.
Thankful and proud to be part of the Design & Innovation Board, a think tank supporting the following conference series: Design Thinking, Digital Product by Design, Experience Design and Service Design, which have become premiere events for those passionate about know-how sharing, quality design and networking.
Early small success or lengthier big bang?
Service Design 2019 took place this week in Chicago. I facilitated a session on how to spot design intervention opportunities for the purpose of lining up early wins as proof points that demonstrate the value of good design.
See my faciliation deck above in the embeded SlideShare. Note that the visuals are not necessarily self-explanatory. They were crafted as the backdrop for our discussions.
In any case, I am happy to re-engage to further discuss. Please feel free to follow up on LinkedIn. We can schedule calls or just meet if we happen to be in the same area.
We explored how to scout and identify opportunities for early-small-wins, and how to purposely convert those into success stories: tactical building blocks that generate traction and momentum across organizations. That is also known as the “string of small pearls” strategy.
The end goal is to roll them up to build the case for Service Design. Each one alone might not be significant enough to suffice. But, in aggregate, they define a pattern that would amount to compelling evidence.
The chain reaction can activate a larger movement down the road. This is an agile and scalable path, which is different from confronting a “big bang” approach from the get go.
Scenario planning around how the “string of small pearls” and the “big bang” would play out (and which one applies) takes an understanding of market conditions, sought-after outcomes, resource levels, organizational behaviors and strategic thinking.
Let’s follow up.
Once again, thanks to those of you joining and actively participating in my session. I am also grateful for all of the positive and encouraging feedback that followed, which keeps one motivated to be further involved.
I would also take this chance to acknowledge the hallway discussions and this week’s messages over LinkedIn, which I will take the time to address as soon as possible.
Design and Innovation.
Marisa White, Principal Analyst for Design & Innovation, kicked off the conference by making us think about the degree to which “design” has become the new word for “innovation.”
That thought also leads to the difference between incremental and breakthrough innovations. The former delivers a performance improvement that is anchored by a known paradigm and benchmark, e.g. something just got significantly better.
The later entails a game-changing paradigm brought about by true new capabilities, e.g. “I-didn’t-know-I-could-do-that.” Good design can evoke either or both effects.
Raising beyond customer satisfaction.
In any case, as Vince Kadlubek, Meow Wolf CEO, put it in his thought provoking keynote, there is a need for exploring experiences that go from…
… (a) the expected “satisfaction” level that comes from dealing with “the familiar” and by operating whthin one’s comfort zone, core competency, or under what you would come to expect…
… to superior satisfaction surfacing as (b) the sort of “delight” that participatory empowerment, personalization, excitement, and going beyond the obvious deliver while invoking the unexpected.
Surprise-factors (or X-factors) and purposeful “wow-effects” happen to be part of the design mix in the appropriate size and context. Emotional Intelligence (affectivity value, behavioral response and engagement levels being some examples) becomes part of the basket of things making Human Centered Design different from other professional disciplines also involved in design matters.
This is not an endorsement of the capricious, smoke-&-mirrors, whimsical, vaporware, hype, bells and whistles, and/or pretentious shiny objects… but the realization that effective design integrates cognition and emotion to better serve, engage and delight.
Last but not least, there is a need for acknowledging the long road, good work and efforts of the Service Design 2019 team for what turned out to be an excellent conference. Thanks again to: Marisa White, Principal Analyst; Max Ribitzky, VP Partnerships; Aubrey Wells, Partnerships Director; Montana Byrd, Senior Event Coordinator; Michael Mechaly, Audience Development Manager; and Regina Vargas, Marketing Associate.
“[They] lost their quality leadership to new, aggressive competition. The most obvious consequence was lost of market share (…) [due to] quality features that were perceived as better meeting customer needs [and] they did not fail in service as often.”
“Loss of market share is not the only reason behind [it] (…) a second major force has been the phenomenon of life behind the quality dikes. We have learned that living in a technological society puts us at the mercy of the continuing operation of the goods and services that make a society possible (…) without such quality we have failure of all sorts (…) at the least these failures involve annoyances and minor costs. At their worst they are terrifying.”
“A third major force has been the gathering awareness by companies that they have been enduring excessive costs due to chronic quality-related wastes (…) about a third of what we do consists of redoing work previously done (…) lacking expertise in the quality disciplines, they are amateurs in the best sense of that word.”
J.M. Juran’s assessment on Quality issues in the 1960s-70s.
What follows are some of the insights driving the work that I’m doing on reviewing, leveraging and updating QbD (Quality by Design) in the context of today’s fast growing and all-encompassing digitalization.
I am dusting off my research from 2010 on the 3Q Model. Back then I was a senior manager at Alcatel-Lucent’s Solutions & Technology Introduction Department. My current role is Senior Studio Director at Nokia Software’s Solutions Engineering. Note that the scope is End-to-End Solutions. These are holistic system-wide (cross-sectional and longitudinal) undertakings intersecting different domains to deliver the higher value of the whole. I have discussed QbD for Digital Transformation projects at the Design Thinking 2018 event and at the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) conference on CQR (Communications Quality and Reliability) back in April and May of this year. Interestingly enough, both events were held in Austin, Texas.
QbD was first coined by Juran, a renown pioneer of quality practices, whose work on that specific topic started in the mid 80s. He linked Quality to customer satisfaction and reliability as the two dimensions to focus on:
“Features” were defined as “quality characteristics,” which meant properties intended to satisfy specific customer needs. That would also include “promptness of delivery,” “ease of maintenance,” and “courtesy of service” to name some examples. “The better the features, the higher the quality in the eyes of customers.”
As far as reliability and, therefore, replicability and consistent performance, “freedom from deficiencies” conveyed the fact that “the fewer the deficiencies the better the quality in the eyes of customers.” A “deficiency” is a failure that triggers dissatisfaction, which calls for incurring higher costs to redo prior work.
“Fitness for use” was mentioned as an attempt to capture the above two together. The so-called Juran Trilogy entails Quality Planning, Quality Control, and Quality Improvement.
More than three decades have passed since Juran started to work on “New Steps for Planning Quality into Goods and Services.” Let’s decompose QbD’s acronym at face value and distill its essence.
As a designer, my belief & practice system focuses on “serial innovation” consistently delivering superior value. This is achieved by means of purposeful and elegant solutions equipped with capability models and optimal functionality leading to Quality Experiences.
Customer Delight, rather than just satisfaction, being the sought after outcome. This applies to both small and large undertakings, and as A. Kay, a pioneer in graphical user interfaces, best put it, “simple things should be simple, complex should be possible.”
Following that train of thought, “Designing Quality into Solutions” should become center stage to: (a) collaborative and iterative ideation, (b) agile development, (c) continuous delivery and (d) the dynamic diffusion of (e) new and mass-customizable digital services for consumer and enterprise markets, as well as no-for-profit. Overall, QoB is key to Operational Excellence.
In a world where “Continuous Improvement” leads to incremental and breakthrough innovations, Quality’s critical KPI, Key Performance Indicator, can be expressed in terms of measurable advances in QoUX, the Quality of the Users’ Experiences. These are lagging (outcome) metrics that are far from static because they evolve within and over lifecycles. Therefore, reliability is not just applied to production operations, but also to the solution’s consistent performance and serviceability over time and under changing scenarios and events.
Given Quality’s unequivocal narrative around the “experiential” paradigm and, therefore, human-centric-optics, QbD’s best work should optimize for user “delight,” which is defined as superior “satisfaction,” rather than just aiming for requirements compliance.
It is very tempting to rally around core competencies within comfort zones that exist, and then settling on just aiming for “customer satisfaction” around “must-meet” baseline requirements. Though, that might not suffice given the necessity to innovate and better compete by leveraging unique sources of sustainable differentiation.
Let’s now state the obvious: “designing” Quality Experiences into digital solutions is best addressed by means of Human-Centered methodologies that optimize for (f) users’ “acceptance criteria” and (g) the kind of “adoption levels” that foster user base growth.
The opposite approach would risk the adverse effects (and hidden costs) that can be incurred when technical myopia leads the way. A. Cooper’s “The Inmates are Running the Asylum” captures that very well. His book is referenced below.
Just for the record, the year is 2018 and we are gearing for a pervasive digital world dominated by software defined systems. The 4th Industrial Revolution’s floodgates are set wide-open.
Low and high tech perform best when playing a supporting role. Technology enables “Services” which justify it, otherwise the so-called Chasm and Valley of Death wait around the corner. It pays to emphasize that “Services” are defined by “Use Cases.” So, it shouldn’t take much effort to see that “Use(case)ability” (“usability” being the proper term) is a CSF, Critical Success Factor. “Fitness for use” in other words.
Let’s take that further and couple “usability” with designing for usefulness,” “utility,” “consumability & serviceablity” as well as “affectivity” because perception and human affects orient satisfaction and dissatisfaction levels.
QbD cannot be put to work without adequately addressing Human Dynamics, which entails psychological (e.g. cognitive models, information architecture) physiological (e.g. device form factor, workstation ergonomics) and social dimensions (e.g. network effects increasing value for users.) That happens to be the SoW (Scope of Work) of HFE’s (Human Factors Engineering) interdisciplinary teams in Design Studios… and the topic of my next post on QbD’s Intellectual Capital.
A few more thoughts…
In spite of one’s day-to-day work and/or belief system being either closer to or removed from the kinds of jobs and tasks that make tech human, it makes sense to engage in meaningful outcome oriented and goal driven practices by applying HCD, Human-Centered-Design. The purpose is delivering quality and achieving customer acceptance and delight, given that customers are human beings. That is the reason why Design Thinking has outgrown the field of industry design and is applied to a wide variety of domains and disciplines nowadays.
Tech’s roller-coaster industry is packed with well intended technologies that fail. We all know that this is a fiercely competitive environment in constant change. Though, it is also true that, in many of those cases, UX, User Experience, professionals were not engaged at any part of the process, or were purposely involved at the back-end, or were called to come to the rescue in the eleventh hour. That leaves no room for Design to make a difference. Superficial changes just amount to bells-and-whistles and shiny-objects to disguise the underlying quality issues that are likely to re-surface at some point.
QbD’s top objective should be excelling at effectively & efficiently addressing our customers’ acceptance and adoption criteria. That remains true even in the context of full automation. Humans still get promoted and demoted (or fired) based on those system’s performance. D. Newman’s recent article on Forbes magazine rightly states that “you cannot run your business without people (…) you cannot operate technology without people (…) research have shown that people are a critical component for digital transformation.”
Today’s best practice calls for “reverse engineering” solutions by working from that human-centered understanding around Human Machine Systems (HMS.) That is substantially different from only relying on a far riskier “if you build it, they will come” model and its costlier brute-force mindset.
When dealing with challenging, intractable and complex projects, overlooking that fact typically results in exponential project risk and plenty of the, otherwise, avoidable zig-zagging course corrections ahead (e.g. opportunity costs in financial analysis and hidden and latency costs in systems engineering.)
Agile’s iterative development and ability to pivot shouldn’t be a refuge for either subpar or no design effort, but a vehicle to best implement QbD and augment development capacity while minimizing technical debt. This is why this revision of QbD for today’s tech industry calls for Design Sprints to lead the way.
Last but not least, before dismissing this QbD revision as a philanthropic and humanistic only endeavor, I suggest deep thinking around its (1) business criticality and (2) contribution to risk mitigation.
J. de Francisco
Bell Labs, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff
Nokia Software, Senior Studio Director @ Solutions Engineering
A. Cooper. The Inmates are Running the Asylum. Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity, Sams Publishing, 2004.
D. Newman. 3 Reasons People are Critical for Digital Transformation Success. Forbes, June 2018.
J. de Francisco. IEEE ETR 2018, Emerging Technologies Reliablity Roundtable – Human Factors Session (2). Innovarista: Innovation at Work, July 2018 innovarista.org
J. de Francisco. IEEE ETR 2018, Emerging Technologies – Human Factors Session. Innovarista: Innovation at Work. May 2018 innovarista.org
J.M. Juran. Juran on Quality by Design: the New Steps for Planning Quality into Goods and Services, The Free Press, 1992.