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 Chuck SchaefferDesign Thinking Applied to CRM

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How Design Thinking Aids Customer Strategies and Customer-Centric Business Models

Design thinking is nothing new, however, it is relatively nascent to enterprise applications. The cognitive design practice driven by organizations such as IDEO has heralded design innovations such as the computer mouse, ergonomic keyboards and a plethora of innovative objects. Organizations such as the Stanford d.school and IBM have since built upon design thinking principals to create frameworks for highly complex projects and enterprise applications.

Design thinking is an evolutionary (iterative), human-centered design and problem solving method that applies deep empathy for users and collaboration among a broad team. Instead of designers working alone, they team with other stakeholders which makes the process symbiotic with agile methods.

But how's this really different from what we've been doing?

Design thinking is an alternative method of problem solving that focuses on how to achieve a human-focused goal (often in the form of a better future situation) as opposed to how to solve a discrete problem.

For example, in a CRM context, a typical goal is to track more customer information. A design thinking goal is how to apply more customer information to deliver relevant, personalized and contextual communications which create positive emotional responses with customers.

With enterprise software and CRM applications, design tends to focus on software and not people, aesthetics and not experiences, and be applied near the end of the deployment or software development life cycle. It also follows more of an analytical or scientific method whereby a problem, scope and parameters are defined and designers or problem solvers follow a fairly linear path to find an acceptable or optimal resolution in the shortest time frame. Design thinking doesn't try to constrain scope and isn't so linear. In the normal course it can take frequent unplanned back steps or circular paths. Steps can occur simultaneously and be repeated. This lack of progressive progress can come as a shock to project managers not in tune with this approach.

Another big difference is that design thinkers use both divergent and convergent thinking to expand ideation and possible solutions. Divergent thinking creates a more expansive solution set of ideas and alternatives to be explored. Convergent thinking focuses on getting to the optimal or correct solution. Design thinking begins with divergent thinking in order to get more perspectives and options, and then applies convergent thinking to narrow to the ideal solution. A primary benefit of this approach is that it is encourages nonconformist thinking, defers judgment and is more likely to uncover an "a-ha moment" that will identify a powerful advantage or benefit that would otherwise not have surfaced.

Design Thinking

Instead of a traditional software design approach which applies an engineering mindset first, and then turns to design near the end of the process when considering the user interface or other aesthetics, design thinking keeps design front and center from beginning to end and is much more focused on the user's experience.

Here's the synergy with CRM.

The balance of power in commerce is shifting from sellers to buyers as customers are more connected, informed, empowered and demanding. To respond, business leaders are turning to new customer strategies such as customer experience management and even wholesale company transitions from product centric to customer centric business models. At the core of these shifts lies the customer, and the challenge for business leaders is how to engage and solve for the customer. It's an ill-defined challenge and will require new thinking and problem solving that is less quantitative and more focused on human behaviors and inventing a new future. Design thinking is uniquely suited for the challenge.

Next page: Design Thinking Implementation Approaches >>

 

 

 

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Good design solves a problem with a result that achieves an emotional reaction. This is powerful in business as we all know that people are emotional and buyers make buying decisions based on emotions.

 

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