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It is a very exciting moment for each team member when the project they are to work on has a well-defined scope and is well-estimated.
Predictability is increased, unexpected project expenses are lowered, and what’s more, the development team can focus on product quality and not on how to determine business logic.
Is there a method that can give you a better chance of achieving all that? Of course, there is. In this article, I will show you how to use it.
In my previous article, I mentioned the importance of architecture and how it can positively influence the project outcome. However, before creating the architecture, there is a significant step that determines the success of your project. It’s called Discovery Phase.
Simply put, the Discovery Phase is a process where you collect and analyze information about your future project. It can be its scope, budget, expected profitability, and timeline, but the most challenging and crucial part is a deep understanding of the business reason.
For instance: you want to create a cloud strategy for your organization. The first thing you need to do is analyze and gather requirements regarding the benefits you can get from that transformation. How do you go about that? You have two options:
You have probably guessed that the second option is much better but before we jump into details, let’s think about what you need to do during the Discovery Phase to make sure you will get your desired outcomes:
Achieving the outcomes above can be tough and demanding work, but without it, the entire project may go astray. Yes, you can use the old-fashioned way, but then all the work is on you. This approach does not require the organization of any workshops and interactions between you and other people, however, you may lose:
Of course, leading and working with a group requires good coordination, planning and experience in reacting to situations that are unexpected (a clash of different visions can cause a conflict that a good facilitator should handle effectively). However, with the right, competent facilitator in place everything should go smoothly.
Luckily, there is one method that will help you organize effective workshops and create products or services designed to resolve real-life business problems where the client is at the center of attention.
One of the approaches that you can use to collect all the crucial information is Design Thinking. It aims at answering critical business questions through five steps:
After 2 to 5 days, you get a tested prototype that is based on your clients’ actual needs.
Step 1. Understand
Focusing on clients’ actual problems is crucial. Thinking only about your revenue (that you may receive from this product or service) can be a trap. Your clients don’t care about your profit because they want to resolve their problems. At this step, you must discover and understand what clients really need and define their real challenges.
Step 2. Sketch
If you have a problem that you want to resolve, the Sketching step helps you with idea creation and spawning. Inspiring ideas enable the drafting of future concepts that can solve a particular problem.
Step 3. Decide
At this step, you can have many ideas about how to resolve the problem you defined, so it’s time to decide which of them are worth developing and testing (probably not all of them can give the desired WOW effect)
Step 4. Prototype
At this stage, you will produce the physical representation of your new idea that should bring about a WOW effect for your client.
Step 5. Test
This step is about testing the prototype and summarizing the whole Design Thinking workshop. The outcome is a validated solution prototype.
Let’s look at some benefits:
Based on my experience, I have come to recognize some common mistakes that negatively and significantly affect the workshop outcome. However, the fixes are relatively easy to apply.
1. Not sticking to the workshop goal
Each stage of Design Thinking has a different goal to achieve, but they all should relate to the workshop objective. It must be short and easy to understand.
2. Lack of a wider agenda
My last Design Thinking workshop took 4 days, and without good planning, it would have been a nightmare to manage it effectively. I generally spend an entire day organizing such a meeting.
3. Not including the development team
Achieving common understanding also requires the inclusion of the development team in the workshop. Usually, a developer doesn’t have the chance to question or clarify some of the requirements since he doesn’t see the big picture or the business context.
4. Lack of a dedicated facilitator
An experienced facilitator who does not have any personal stake or emotional relations to the idea is a must.
Design Thinking promises a lot of what you can achieve in the discovery phase. However, for everything to work, you need to have a well-structured action plan and fully commit to the role or look for another facilitator. If you’re having trouble finding the right person to lead the workshops, contact us, we’ll be happy to help.
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