Economics/Business

Design Thinking for HR/goals/6 steps to implement/benefits

Design thinking seeks to empathize with problems in order to generate visionary solutions to solve them through a methodology that allows the exchange of ideas and encourages collaboration.

The human resources area has been going through a series of revolutions in the way it works and, today, occupies a strategic place at the heart of business management.

Thus, increasingly modern concepts are introduced in HR and this is the case with design thinking . This is a new methodology that has been implemented in this sector all over the world and helps in the routine of employees.

This methodology is a tool that allows finding new ways to solve problems and achieve the results desired by the company.

Understand what design thinking is

Before applying it in the HR sector, we need to understand the concept of design thinking.

The use of this methodology involves teamwork with a single objectiveproblem solving through critical thinking .

This is an approach centered on the human being and its multidisciplinary nature and aims to lead everyone involved to find truly innovative solutions. 

In this way, decision-making becomes more assertive through an environment conducive to the generation of constructive insights .

Innovating is a constant requirement for companies that want to have a real competitive advantage in the market

Thus, making actions more efficient and targeted really makes a big difference when reaching this goal.

Charles Burnette, an authority on the subject, makes the following statement about design thinking:

“A critical and creative thinking process that allows you to organize information and ideas, make decisions, improve situations and acquire knowledge”.

To achieve this goal, authors on the subject have not yet found a recipe that works for all companies. However, some steps common to the vast majority are these six:

  1. empathize;
  2. to define;
  3. idealize;
  4. prototype;
  5. test;
  6. to implement.

You don’t have to worry about these steps right now, we’ll cover all of them in detail later.

How did design thinking come about?

The concept of this methodology emerged with a business innovation consulting organization called IDEO, around 1991.

The consultancy proposed a differentiated approach to face the problems that its clients were going through and it didn’t take long to become famous in Silicon Valley.

The consultancy was founded by Stanford University professors David Kelley and Tim Brown who are also responsible for the consulting firm.

These same thinkers published the book “ Design Thinking – A Powerful Methodology to Decree the End of Old Ideas ”, which is a must-read for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the subject.

See what the goals of design thinking are

The main objective of design thinking is to foster, design and implement innovative projects within an organization.

This happens through the marriage between analytical thinking and creative thinking, bringing together issues such as: method and ideas; data and targeting; people and technologies etc.

By combining factors that are naturally separate, the vision changes from something simply operational and takes on a strategic dimension . And this is the word that has filled the eyes of many managers today.

The employee’s own behavior also tends to change. He stops being reactive (obeying orders) and starts to think critically about his tasks and how to improve his contribution to the development of the business.

So, in a simple way, some of the goals of design thinking are:

  • identify and investigate complex and ambiguous problems;
  • encourage the emergence of innovative solutions;
  • make complex projects more efficient.

Follow the 6 steps of method implementation

So far this methodology seems like something really transformative, doesn’t it? However, how to use design thinking in the company? This is one of the questions we will answer in this topic

We will start the explanation with the image below that brings the three moments of design thinking, which are understanding the need (immersion in the problem), exploring the solutions (idealization) and materializing the decisions (implementation).

Within these moments, we have six actions that were the ones we talked about earlier and we will talk about it in detail below.

Step 1: Empathize

Before solving a problem for any person (or organization), it is necessary to understand in depth what the problem is and why it bothers you.

The Informal Dictionary brings the meaning of empathy as “Ability to understand another person’s feeling or reaction by imagining yourself in the same circumstances.”

Thus, at this stage of design thinking, it is necessary to understand the specific needs, pains and desires of people .

An example linked to HR is understanding the specific needs of teams already formed in the company in order to open a selection process that looks for complementary individuals.

Step 2: set

After a series of interviews with stakeholders, it is time to define the problem that will be addressed by the team using the design thinking methodology.

It is important to keep in mind that a lot of data can be collected, so the team’s ability to synthesize will be tested. 

After arriving at a clear problem during the analysis, it is interesting to present it to interested parties to check the team’s assertiveness.

This stage needs to be precise, as it will determine the course of ideas and also the scope of the solutions that will be developed .

An interesting tip is to humanize the problems. For example: instead of having a problem like “decrease turnover by 5% in 3 months”, something like “improve employee engagement and motivation to avoid turnover”.

Step 3: idealize

The third stage of design thinking is when ideas start to flow. Here, you already understand the needs of the users (stakeholders) and you also have a very well-defined problem.

At this stage, it is possible to adopt numerous methodologies for generating ideas in order to increase the possibility of having innovative approaches. Some of these are:

  • brainstorm;
  • brainwrite;
  • worst possible idea;
  • SCAMPER

These are just some ideation methodologies, choose the one that has the most potential to generate ideas relevant to the problem.

Step 4: prototype

The design team will now work on a scaled-down version of the solution found in the ideation sessions.

The goal is to create a version that will be able to provide all the information the team is looking for and, ultimately, solve the problem at hand.

An example is creating a form for the preliminary organizational climate test before changing the company’s system.

Once the solution prototypes are ready, we can move on to the next step.

Step 5: Test

This is the phase that will guarantee that the proposed solution will actually have the expected result. Of course, it is not possible to be 100% sure about its efficiency, but the test will leave the corporation in a much safer situation.

During testing, then, several problems are found and the solution is refined or reimagined so that it actually solves the stakeholder’s problem.

Step 6: Implement

After the identified problems are resolved by the development team, it remains only to implement the new system!

Note that design thinking is a non-linear process

Now that you know the logical line of a design thinking process, it’s time to say that it is not a rule.

In any of the steps that we present, it is possible to find a problem that leads the team to go back several places in the process, this usually happens in the test step, as you can see in the image below.

Discover the benefits of design thinking for the company

The expected results of design thinking involve more participatory employees and a more efficient company in general.

See below the main benefits of this methodology!

1. Promotion of organizational culture

In order to get people to collaborate within the company, it is necessary to have an organizational culture that encourages transparency and teamwork.

Not only, engagement is critical for design thinking to really work. 

In this way, this methodology has the ability to stimulate the appearance of several characteristics that every manager wants in their team, favoring the organizational culture.

2. Stimulating thinking outside the box

Stimulating creativity among employees is perhaps one of the main reasons why this methodology is implemented in companies.

Through design thinking it is possible to create a safe environment so that relatively silly ideas can be thrown into the air and inspire real change. 

This type of environment allows differentials to be developed internally and not in the market.

3. Value for money

This is one of those approaches that has great potential and has no cost to implement, after all, it’s just a concept. 

You just need to invest time in educating everyone on how design thinking works.

4. Increased security

Above we said that an important part of design thinking is precisely the testing of the developed solutions. So the chances of them being frivolous are pretty slim.

5. Increased engagement

For the focus methodology of this article to be really effective, something cannot be missing is effective communication and engagement of all those involved in the search for solutions.

Whether in meetings with employees, individual feedback sessions or even in minutes, communication must be a point of care as it is responsible for getting everyone on the same page.

This creates a much more collaborative environment and encourages employees to become more and more engaged in creating a company where they themselves want to work. This point even leads us to the next advantage.

6. Increase in attendance

Even though attendance is a contractual obligation, many companies face problems in getting their employees to show up at their posts on a daily basis.

There are several ways to encourage attendance , but few are as effective as a motivated and engaged team.

In many cases, the lack of motivation comes from the fact that employees do not see a future within the company or do not feel an important part of it.

So this problem solving method is a way to get them involved and change that scenario.

7. Increase in productivity

With more attendance, engagement and motivation, the tendency is for employees to become more productive and generate more results.

Furthermore, the very design of design thinking takes into account the generation of results and the improvement of the creation process. Thus, there is no doubt that the company tends to produce much more.

8. Decreased turnover

Turnover , as well as low attendance , is a big problem for companies that end up having a lot of expenses with new selection processes. 

Not only, the loss of talents and professionals already trained also represents a financial reduction.

Thus, one way to combat this expensive problem is precisely through more active methodologies that engage employees in problem solving.

Engagement goes hand in hand with greater motivation and these qualities can be a great differentiator for your company in the market. 

This makes employees choose to stay in the company even with more financially advantageous proposals.

Design thinking for HR: understand how this concept works in the sector

Now that you have understood well what the methodology we are talking about in this text is, let’s delve deeper into what design thinking in HR is.

HR is one of the industries where this method can really make a huge difference in team building. 

This is because this area is responsible for hiring new employees , once again highlighting the strategic differential.

But process innovation doesn’t stop there, design thinking is a way to escape traditional thinking in any task. 

Thus, HR can insert the methodology in order to rethink tasks such as performance evaluations and even training .

Furthermore, we can still say that this approach has the potential to change HR at its core.

She has the ability to develop a human model of management and mindset focused on developing meaningful experiences.

When we look at the work experience of the HR department’s own employees, we see greater engagement and motivation for daily tasks and a greater willingness to innovate.

Tips for starting this methodology in the Human Resources Department

A few tips can be very helpful when you are implementing design thinking in your HR day-to-day. Check out some of them!

Have real empathy

It is common that, when talking to an individual, the interviewer projects his own life experience and distorts what the candidate is saying. 

This is completely natural, after all, we are only able to understand the facts of life based on our own experiences.

Thus, this is one of the main biases when applying design thinking, and it is important to be aware of the other’s problem.

Miscellaneous baggage only adds

Design thinking values ​​a free place to exchange ideas and experiences. Thus, individuals with different life histories have greater diversity to bring to the table.

This also makes the solutions developed more likely to be truly innovative.

never stop testing

Once the solutions have been developed, the testing phase is what will tell if they are really effective in combating the problem.

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