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My Recent Re-dials to the Design Thinking

by Alexandra Weber

March 21, 2012

Following the great inspirations for each and every new project that I've joined, I often go back and re-think the designs all over again even if the projects had ended.

I've noticed that this particular time I was following the Design Thinking phases in this  recent client engagement that happened to be a Public Sector client.

Great client with very pressing deadline, they needed to obtain a better access to FI-FM reconciliation process for their year end closing.  They were looking for customized report due to some SAP and database existing problems where standard reports were not usable.  Their request was to design the "one report" which happened to be the 60 pages CAFR Financial report but within public sector it means that Financial and Funds Management Modules would re-concile properly with AA-CO-MM-PM-PS applications as well.

Nevertheless, they wanted this report completed if possible within two weeks. 

Sure, we love challenges like that because we know that SAP can produce exactly that and many other reports, but, if and only if, the system is properly configured, master data is created and properly structured, and transactions are harmonized with business process steps conducted in sequence to close their current year.

Well, within a few moments looking at their system, none of those pre-requisites were found.  In fact, they've downgraded the system which they've paid for the upgrade but within many components they've pulled out the OSS notes so they've decided to keep the old release and screen version instead within FI and other business components.   Meaning, appropriate tables and transactional data were not distributed where they had to be, so there was no resource that can come aboard to produce such report out of that system.

That was clearly communicated, and the BTM2 "heat map" was shown to the customer with identified pain points, and steps that need to take place and six phase IT approach, etc...  Customer  basically didn't care and didn't have the time for it, and within two days of my diligent work and hard-core analysis and integrative alternative thinking, I've received very positive recommendations that my knowledge is "right on" but that they don't have the time to dedicate to further development and they would need to continue to produce the Excel designs and reconcilation.

Thinking back in retrospect - what could we do better?  Client clearly stated that they don't have the time because of other more pressing issues.  Designing anything in two weeks without customer's involvement, clear requirements,  understanding of their business processes and different posting practices, and without the initial workshop we cannot do more.  Interesting situation but it could be related to number of similar cusstomers.

As this project is done, I still go back to think some more a bout it.  Furthermore, something about this client just keep popping up in my head again.  This evening, I was looking at the design thinking phases (instead of listening to my kids fighting about the toys), and I've realized that consciously or subconsciously I've followed these exact steps in many of my "fast delivered" projects:

Scoping, 360 Research, Synthesis, Ideation (I actually call this a PROPOSAL or PROPOSITION, INVITATION, etc..), next the Prototyping, Validation, and Implementation.  In fact, that is what I do the best, the solutions and designs "come" spontaneously to me in such order of thinking.

I actually just realized that with this client and with such low interest, I couldn't even pass thru all the phases of the Design Thinking process, before they've actually completely had to go to their busy schedule and more pressing issues.  In fact, I am rationalizing our communication and that point of view, with all the power of the Design Thinking it would be impossible to sync in any better with this situation.  In such cases, we didn't even introduce the IDEA phase of the Design Thinking, we've just completed some minimal scoping and research with some preliminary synthesis given, and client had to leave this requirement with work undone.

Maybe you can only experience something similar in dating or kid's training:  if the person is not interested, the Design Thinking phases would not be executed.  This approach doesn't even work for more then first two phases and the new approach should be considered in the future.  The good thing about this project is that I've offered to do this analysis first before I've trave led to the customer so no more of additional costs would be generated. 

Until the pre-requisite of TIME element is given, the listening would not occur, unless there is additional desire to do so. 

Currently, we don't have the way of managing client's desire other then providing better sales, media and marketing, but we either excuse that rejection with "no time" or with children in school we associate that rejection to the ADHD.  

In either case it is important to address that phase - which brings me to the topic that in our Design Thinking practice we are actually missing one phase which is "Creating the Desire or Acceptance, Agreement" and then constructing the ideas, proposals, etc...

So, here I propose that we re-think our Design Thinking and re-design it with the way to capture the as deep importance of "Desire Factor" which it could be fully required for helping many of our customers and school systems, too.

Would that also have something to do with our sluggish economy and children failing the school systems?  

Alexandra Weber

SAP IBC Delivery

Certified Business Process Expert Consultant

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