Exploring Other Methods. November 7, 4:00 PM Understanding How Design Thinking, Lean and Agile Play within Service Design.
“Since service design serves as the umbrella discipline for delivering service experiences, there are many sub methods to address different types of problems. For example, Design Thinking is helpful on the front end to empathize and identify customer needs where Agile is helpful in software development and digital experience design. This group explores well-known methods and how they play a role in the service design universe.”
I’m back in Chicago and I would first like to thank everyone who joined my session about “Exploring Other Methods” for your participation (full house) and encouraging feedback. I hope to cross paths again in the near future. In the meantime, we can take advantage of LinkedIn to stay in touch. I would also like to express my gratitude to Michael DeJager and Tyler Peterson for all of their tireless help.
Here are the links for a couple of the items that I briefly discussed when providing context for Exploring Other Methods: a photo album of where I work, Nokia’s Chicago Technology Center, and the first version of the Human Factors Engineering Manifesto. Regarding requests about the slideware for my talk… I ran an interactive whiteboarding session with my iPad connected to the projector and I did not produce formal slides.
The discussion’s narrative was centered on how to best approach HSM, Human-Machine-Systems, to craft a compelling Service Experience. In that context, “Human” refers to relevant stakeholders and “Machine” to any technology involved. The “Systems” approach prompts a holistic undertaking which includes Front Stage, Back Stage factors and the continuum across the too.
Service Design is about innovation, whether capability-wise that qualifies as incremental, breakthrough and/or disruptive innovation. Today’s Service Design also entails a wide range of low and high-tech at any point in the process. While this is just anecdotal evidence, when I asked everyone about who can do away without any technology, there was an implicit understanding of the rhetorical nature of my question and, therefore, the obvious pervasiveness of digital experiences.
We are a technological society. Good design is concerned with human factors and crafts technological solutions to enable human experiences that contribute to our quality of life and the quality of the work we do. That is Human Factors Engineering (HFE) reason for being, a field pioneered by Nokia Bell Labs in 1947.
From that perspective, it pays to intertwine any relevant practices and tools for the healthy purpose of figuring out what combination works best for any given Service Design project. While process repeatability is a desired outcome, what makes an interdisciplinary team smart is the ability to mix, match and blend what’s needed for each undertaking.
We can think of it as an a-la-carte menu featuring elements from Design Thinking, Agile and Lean methodologies just to name a popular handful to start with. I did not discuss some other such as Concept of Operations, Goal Directed Design or Outcome Driven Innovation, but I do recommend expanding one’s horizons beyond the aforementioned few. Note that while featuring commonalities, each one works with different optics. A holistic approach to Service Design also requires a composite method, leveraging as much (or as little) as needed from any, and with any needed adaptations.
Rather than summarizing what I shared at Service Design Week, I’m taking this chance to further reflect on those insights. So, given that we operate in highly dynamic environments, why wouldn’t designers also apply dynamic methodologies?
I’d like to think twice about cookie-cutter and one-size-fits-all approaches because Service Design typically prompts problems and opportunities where fixed-gear-techniques that might have worked well in the past can end up betraying one’s confidence: they might no longer serve or be the best fit whichever purpose they were originally conceived for. Design typically takes us beyond our comfort level, and that makes it an exciting profession.
Statistically speaking, the more one does the very same thing, the closer one gets to mastering that craft (e.g. deliberate practice model). But, paradoxically, you also get closer and closer to confronting environmental deviations, anomalies and rare events in an ever-changing world with even-growing moving parts and targets (e.g. black swan model). Besides, Service Design practitioners shouldn’t deny themselves the benefits that come with continuous improvement. So, here is a quick recap: innovation in Service Design’s outcomes and method innovation go hand by hand. As Einstein put it:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
“Innovation is a risky business and the failure rate is high. Traditional approaches to consumer research may exacerbate the problem. There are many shortcomings with traditional research approaches, and one of the main ones is that data collection focuses on what people say they do, rather than on what is actually driving behavior.” – Behavioral Science – Do people do what they say will do? by Innovia.
Tim works for Innovia Technology and will be visiting Nokia’s Chicago Technology Center, Naperville Campus, on Monday, May 8. He is a physicist from University of Cambridge, UK, with a research background on ballistics who has spent the past 15 years addressing human factors led innovation.
Tim will share insights from recent projects as well as highlights of work done for Nokia back in 2003. About 15 years have gone by and he will conduct a retrospective to unveil who ended up implementing those concepts in today’s market.
Post May 8 Session Notes – Tim’s talk covered the need for gaining a deeper understanding of people as both individuals and collectives to best inform the design of new products, services and business models. Tim emphasized the value of a holistic approach to problem solving and a focus on behavioral drives. He stated that conventional research solely looking at attitudes and beliefs can miss critical insights.
Nokia’s community can access Tim’s presentation and recording on my work blog.
I am now taking the chance to share my thoughts on this topic and, whether we call it “stated vs. observed behavior” or “reported vs. actual paradoxes,” the point is that those of use working on Human Factors Engineering and/or leveraging Design Thinking cannot just rely on product or service requirements as described by customers and end users themselves.
Therefore, on location ethnographic research coupled with instrumentalizing objects, tools and environments to gather telemetry as they are being used over their useful lives are also of the essence, given user permission as this entails privacy concerns.
“According to Alan Mulally, former Ford Motor Company CEO, Henry Ford said that if, when he founded his company, he had asked potential customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Quote Investigator.
Hawthorne Works was a Western Electric factory in the Chicago area, which is part of Bell Labs’ outstanding legacy.
I’m now inserting a side personal note: I now live Chicagoland and have worked with Bell Labs, now part of Nokia.
More than a century ago, going all the way back to the 1920s and 30s, Hawthorne Works undertook a study to assess what lighting levels correlated to higher productivity levels.
However, research findings revealed that (a) worker’s awareness of being observed in the context of (b) paying attention to their needs in the workplace elevated their motivation and productivity, which trumped other factors such as lighting levels whether they would be set low or high.
I would also like to share another interesting observation. This one involving Bell Lab’s own John Karlin:
“The Times, who refer to Karlin as widely considered the father of human-factors engineering in American industry, relates an amusing story of an earlier project–one that demonstrates his keen understanding of human behavior: an early experiment involved the telephone cord.”
“In the postwar years, the copper used inside the cords remained scarce. Telephone company executives wondered whether the standard cord, then about three feet long, might be shortened.”
“Mr. Karlin’s staff stole into colleagues’ offices every three days and covertly shortened their phone cords, an inch at time. No one noticed, they found, until the cords had lost an entire foot. From then on, phones came with shorter cords.”
Once again, I’d like to thank Tim for his talk and for the also interesting discussions that preceded and followed that session. We both agree on the positive impact of holistic and interdisciplinary practices, which lead to a disciplined and robust approach to defining value based outcomes.
This is about innovative solutions humanizing technology in everyone’s best interest. So, it definitely pays to leverage Behavioral Sciences and Behavioral Economics when addressing serial innovation programs.
“The 21st century human factors organization touches so much more than the usability or ergonomics of a product, playing an integral role as the human-centered umbrella connecting the many facets of product and experience design. How is the human factors function creating a fertile environment for the human experience leveraging design thinking and other methodologies?”
Speaking session on April 25. Focus on Human Factors Engineering: Advancing the Human Factors Manifesto through Design Thinking, Agile and Lean. Design Thinking 2017.
In what way do you believe Design Thinking has made the biggest impact in your human factors work at Nokia?
Your question makes me think of a recent conversation with my daughter who is in junior high. She walked me through a school project asking her to pin point and discuss outstanding differences between her day-to-day life and her grandparent’s experiences when they were her same age.
She talked to my parents and diligently outlined a long list of things that we happen to take for granted today: some fairly simple, some quite sophisticated and far reaching… all innovations on their own right at a given point of time. So, I couldn’t help sharing with her samples of work pioneered by Nokia back in 1947 when Bell Labs set up the first Human Factors Engineering department in the American industry.
I must confess that I also conveyed to her the kind of pride that comes from embracing Human Factors as a discipline and belonging to an organization that has made a difference for the past 70 years. I let her know that we measure HFE’s project results based on outcomes that have a positive impact in either our lifestyles and work practices and that I account for both goals set by design and also unexpected effects that surface over time.
We are talking about user friendly systems optimized for ease of use, effortless operability and, first and foremost, for any of us to better interact with each other in context whether we happen to be present in physical, virtual or hybrid environments. We all leverage devices, tools and process at our disposal… which we sometimes modify and adapt or just create new ones. Note that all of this also means fostering our diversity, cultural values and collective well-being.
Nokia’s vision zeroes in on the human possibilities of a broadly connected world, jointly with a path forward that is sustainable and continuously optimized. This entails a firm belief on the value of humanizing a new wave of emerging technologies and the notion of transparent infrastructure that become pervasive and ubiquitous everywhere: 5G, cloud systems and the Internet of Things being some examples.
Human Factors’ multi-disciplinary approach is driven by putting people first and understanding and shaping technology as the means to an end (instead of just expecting users to conform to capricious implementations that show disregard for elegant sophistication and ease of consumability and overall use. Therefore, Design Thinking’s dynamic research approach equips our team with what I call “rigorous plasticity” – this being my flavor of a methodology driving (a) a user centered mindset and (b) a workstyle densely packed with the type of serial ingenuity that makes HFE a source of innovation and differentiation.
Design Thinking is clearly applicable in solving complex problems and catalyzing creative thinking. How do you feel Design Thinking has transformed the overarching human factors engineering organization?
At Nokia’s Lean Ops Program we apply Design Thinking to projects characterized by large scale end-to-end systems integration. We work with leading edge technologies to address network operations in the telecommunications sector, which happen to be among the most complex, distributed and multi-layered systems across industries.
We are conscious of the fact that the source problem statement and point of view that we start a project with might not necessarily be the ones that best solve and deliver breakthrough innovations at the back end.
In essence, multidisciplinary “co-creation” and “early induced pivoting” in the research and ideation processes make Design Thinking’s iterative and adaptive flow a solution driven engine. My experience is that it also creates what’s known as a backlog of “real options” in innovation management, while augmenting development capacity and overall solution quality.
How have you gone about blending design thinking, agile transformation and lean start-up methodologies in your human factors organization? There are certain similarities to each mindset, but how do you resolve discrepancies?
This can be best addressed by means of an example: our team doesn’t focus on Lean Startup’s Minimum Viable Products (MVP) as such since we place the emphasis on the greater value that comes from addressing the whole, this being a conventional Lean principle. Our language embraces the early generation of Minimum Viable Solutions (MVS) instead and in sync with Design Thinking’s holistic approach to an optimum user experience through the solution’s shelf life.
This mindset shift is not just about semantics. Note that it accounts for the sheer size, scale and scope of the end -to-end systems we work with in the Lean Ops program. Moreover, it factors solution lifecycle’s requirements because consumability is expected to evolve over time.
Let’s keep in mind that the high-tech sector is characterized by a rapid succession of technologies and alternative approaches often abound. Add to that the fact that the telecommunications industry is capital intensive and competitiveness relies on sizeable investments in long term projects… and in fast changing markets. Therefore, Design Thinking is of assistance with work on future proofing solutions as we work with end goals in mind, including repurposing and recycling at the solution’s end of viable life.
What value do you believe IQPC’s Design Thinking 2017 will deliver to experienced practitioners like yourself?
I’d like to first thank IQPC for engaging me as a member of the event’s Advisory Board early on, and for the invitation to discuss some of the work that we do at Nokia Applications & Analytics Group in the area of Human Factors at our Cloud Innovation Center.
Design Thinking 2017 has been structured to enable formal and ad-hoc opportunities for any of us to exchange insights, practices and experiences in an open, approachable and engaging forum. This reflects the pluri-disciplinary and diverse nature of the work that we all do, which sets Design Thinking practitioners apart from conventional silos and rigid frameworks.
Design Thinking is a soft methodology that explicitly calls for consistently going beyond our comfort zone so that ingenuity’s X-Factor comes to the surface and makes a difference project after project. With that in mind, the event’s agenda and speaker roster transpires the courage that it takes to approach each single project as a new endeavor worth diving into, and to do so in the midst of ambiguity, uncertainty and changing conditions while counting on Design Thinking as a serial innovation practice.
First published by the International Productivity and Quality Center, IPQC.
“Bell Labs created the very first industrial Human Factors Research department at an American company, back in 1947. The department was quite small, containing just one specialist: John Karlin. Human Factors Research is sometimes known as ergonomics, but the way a human interacts with a machine or a system goes beyond simply physical space.”
“Industrially, the practice of Human Factors Research combines psychology with engineering in order to refine a system and make it more usable, friendlier, more efficient.”
“Karlin headed the HFR department from 1951 to 1977. Charles Rubinstein, who appears in this film, took over the department in ‘77. Human Factors Research at Bell Labs went well beyond that minuscule core staff of the 1940s: by the 1970s, the department had a staff of over 200, and by the time this film was made, staffers numbered more than 400.” – Designing for People, AT&T Archives.
Nokia’s community fosters Bell Lab’s heritage by embracing Human Factors Engineering as an innovation engine. We are gearing up for this year’s company event on HFE, which will be held on December 6. This event is sponsored by the Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council and here is the agenda:
We would like to thank all of the speakers most sincerely for their contribution to this conference. This is a private event for Nokia’s worldwide workforce. The live webcast and the recodings will be made available on NokiaEDU, our professional development organization.
“At Nokia, we’ve always been excited by where technology will lead us. Our business has evolved to adapt to a changing world for 150 years, but what we stand for remains true. Our vision is to expand the human possibilities of the connected world. We continue to reimagine how technology blends into our lives, working for us, discreetly yet magically in the background. Today, we’re shaping a new revolution in how people, businesses, and services connect with each other, creating new opportunities for our customers, partners, and communities.”
“We’re weaving together the networks, data, and device technologies to create the universal fabric of our connected lives – where new applications flow without constraint, where services and industry automate and run seamlessly, where communities and businesses can rely on privacy, security, and near instant response times, connecting through the Cloud. Our distinctive Nokia approach to designing technology for people guides us as we prepare the way for the Internet of Things, and ready our networks for 5G. We create intuitive, dependable technology, to help people thrive.”
Introducing Lean Ops – Integration & Decision Support System
“Over the past year, #maketechhuman has featured debates about the exciting promises and ominous perils of humanity’s tech-driven future.”
“Leading thinkers, from technologists and academics to entrepreneurs and philanthropists, have shared their thoughts on how we can ensure that technology and society positively reinforce each other.”
“Now #maketechhuman is publishing an e-book to push forward the dialogue that’s unfolded in its articles, podcasts, videos, and events. Whether you’re new to the conversation or have been following along all along, you’ll find that debates around the future technology and humanity often center around five hotly contested fronts:”
- “Artificial intelligence—the most all-encompassing of all technologies;”
- “Privacy—how we’ll redefine it and protect it in the all-digital age;”
- “Security—how we’ll deal with an array of emerging digital threats;”
- “Equality—how technology can create and distribute this crucial element of human lives;”
- “Connection—the main reason any of this matters. We’re going to need each other, no matter what the future holds.”
“The #maketechhuman e-book breaks down these topics and explores the burning questions that technology presents in each case. Will artificially intelligent machines take our jobs? Is the Internet bringing us closer together as humans or further apart? Is safety from cybersurveillance worth the privacy tradeoffs? But the e-book doesn’t just ask questions, it also features solutions put forth from experts from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde to Internet pioneer Vincent Cerf.”
“As we produce equipment that enhances digitalization, we believe it’s our responsibility to ensure our communications technologies are used to respect, and not infringe, human rights and privacy. We strive to apply appropriate safeguards to protect people’s personal data against unauthorized use or disclosure.” – Addressing human rights and right to privacy..
“We enhance the power of connectivity by creating product offerings that help overcome missing broadband connectivity, improve the resilience of communities to extreme weather changes and increase public safety. Our product offerings also support the battle against climate change.” – Improving people’s lives with technology.
“Rapidly advancing technologies require humans to make critical decisions in increasingly dynamic and complex environment. Human factors studies human interaction with increasingly intelligent and automated engineering systems to address safe, efficient and cost-effective operations, maintenance and training” – Areas of Ingenuity – Human Systems Integration at NASA Ames Research Center.
“SVS works closely with scientists in the creation of visualizations, animations, and images in order to promote a greater understanding of Earth and Space Science research activities at NASA and within the academic research community” – Scientific Visualization Studio.