Design Thinking 2019 #DesignThinking2019
FULL LENGTH TRANSCRIPT VERSION
How would you define your organization’s maturity to Design Thinking?
Nokia 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.
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.
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.
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.
As 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.
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.
Design Thinking 2019 #DesignThinking2019
Design Thinking 2019 #DesignThinking2019
FULL LENGTH TRANSCRIPT VERSION
When did Design Thinking/Human Centered Design become a priority in your career?
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Design Thinking 2019 #DesignThinking2019
“Together with his identical twin brother, Scott, he has laid the groundwork for the future of space exploration as the subjects of an unprecedented NASA study on how space affects the human body, which is featured in Scott’s New York Times best-selling memoir, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery.”
“Currently, Mark is on the Commercial Crew Safety Board at Space X […] and is the co-founder of World View, a full-service commercial space launch provider.”
Endeavour to Succeed. College of DuPage, Department of Physics. February 14 2019.
I managed to attend Captain Mark Kelly’s talk in Chicago just the day before I was leaving for Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress. M. Kelly’s presence and insightful remarks commanded both admiration and utmost respect.
Among many other fascinating topics, he discussed NASA’s “None of US is as Dumb as All of Us“ as a reminder of the negative impact of ‘groupthink‘ in the context of faulty decision making. Most specifically, he referred to dramatic mistakes leading to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, which disintegrated upon re-entry in 2003.
“Large-scale engineered systems are more than just a collection of technological artifacts. They are a reflection of the structure, management, procedures, and culture of the engineering organization that created them.”
“They are also, usually, a reflection of the society in which they were created. The causes of accidents are frequently, if not always, rooted in the organization—its culture, management, and structure.”
“Blame for accidents is often placed on equipment failure or operator error without recognizing the social, organizational, and managerial factors that made such errors and defects inevitable.”
Nancy G. Leveson, MIT. Technical and Managerial Factors in the NASA Challenger and Columbia Losses: Looking Forward to the Future. Controversies in Science and Technology Volume 2, Mary Ann Liebert Press, 2008.
Groupthink is part of the taxonomy of well-known cognitive biases and takes hold when divergent thinking and disagreement are discouraged (and even repressed) as part of group dynamics.
Hindsight is 20/20 and, statistically speaking, ‘black swan’ events are characterized by seemingly random surprise factors. Groupthink can obfuscate the early detection of predictors such as leading outliers and anomalies, which left unattended can overwhelm a given system over time… and be the source of cascading effects and critical failure.
Groupthink’s negative impact compromises any best intentions such as organizational cohesiveness in the spirit of consensus, agility, productivity, timely project progress and de-escalation management.
Often times, there might be neither adequate situational and risk awareness nor a basis for sense making drawing from the comparative analysis that comes with diligent scenario planning.
Individuals and organizational cultures with a succesful track record can also experience complacency. Over-confidence fosters the sort of behaviors and decisioning that served the group well in the past.
Though, when in the mix of a changing environment defined by new parameters under the radar, only operating within the perimeter of a given set of core competences and comfort zones, makes those specific behaviors blindsight and betray the team’s mission and purpose.
Many plans do not survive first contact (or a subsequent phase for that matter) as their implementation creates ‘ripple effects’ of various shapes and propagating speeds. Some of that can be experienced as ‘sudden risk exposure.’ Once passed the ‘point-of-no-return,’ if that challenge is met with neither contingency planning nor the ability to timely course correct, pivot or even deploy a basic safety-net offsetting the impact, the project fails to ‘cross the chasm’ and is headed for what’s technically known as the ‘valley of death.’
This was one of the key issues discussed by Clyton M. Christiansen when I took his Harvard class on the ‘Innovator’s Dilemma,’ and is also a key point behind Risto Siilasmaa’s ‘Paranoid Optimism’ as well Paul Romer’s ‘Conditional Optimism,’ all of which advocate for scenario planning and sensing optimization to be able to calibrate or re-assess the path forward.
“Michael Shermer stated in the September 2002 issue of Scientific American, ‘smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.”
Groupthink can also manifest itself by means of ‘eco chamber’ effects’ as misguided consensus amplifies what becomes a “self-serving” bias. That is, in effect, a closed feedback loop process that magnifies logical fallacies. These can come across as reasonable enough postulates, though if based on rushed judgement and selective focus they can also suffer from ‘confirmation bias.’ This is the case when new evidence is only used to back-up the existing belief system rather than share new light.
In the context of Decision Support Systems and Cognitive Analytics, the above reasoning deficits become root causes of errors impacting operations. That can involve both (a) Human-Human and (b) Human-Machine interactions, as well as impacting programming work resulting in (c) biased algorithms and automation pitfalls when left unsupervised.
Carisa Callini. Human Systems Engineering. NASA, August 7 2017. https://www.nasa.gov/content/human-systems-engineering
Carisa Callini. Spaceflight Human Factors. NASA, December 19 2018. https://www.nasa.gov/content/spaceflight-human-factors
Clayton M. Christensen. The Innovator’s Dilemma. Harvard Business Review Press, 1997.
COD Welecomes Astronaut Mark Kelly. Daily Herald, February 13 2019. https://www.dailyherald.com/submitted/20190201/cod-welcomes-astronaut-mark-kelly-feb-17
Geoffrey Moore. Crossing the Chasm. Haper Collins, 1991.
MIT Experts Reflect on Shuttle Tragedy. MIT News, February 3 2003. http://news.mit.edu/2003/shuttle2
Tim Peake. The Astronaut Selection Test Book. Century. London, 2018.
Scott Kelly. Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. Knopf. New York, 2017.
Scott Kelly. Infinite Wonder. Knopf. New York, 2018.
Steve Young. Astronaut: ‘None of Us is as Dumb as All of Us.’ USA Today – Argus Leader, May 13, 2014. https://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2014/05/13/astronaut-none-us-dumb-us/9068537/
Will Knight. Biased Algorithms are Everywhere, and No One Seems to Care. MIT Technology Review, July 12 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608248/biased-algorithms-are-everywhere-and-no-one-seems-to-care/