Game 4 of the ALCS is in the books and the Astros had yet another hiccup on their march to back-to-back championships as Boston took the game on an unbelievable play to end it.  Even with this loss the Astros are still only three wins away from going back to the World Series. Yet our sports-themed week continues but from a more tangential angle today as we pay tribute to Morice Fredrick “Tex” Winter, one of the greatest basketball minds over the last 50 years. Winter’s greatest development was the Triangle Offense, which he convinced a nascent Coach Phil Jackson to use in Chicago. They then jointly convinced Michael Jordan to implement it on the court and the result was six National Basketball Association (NBA) championships. Jackson and Winters then headed off to the LA Lakers and convinced both Kobe and Shaq to use and the result there was another three NBA championships (Jackson and Kobe won two more after Winters retired and Shaq left LA). Winters and the Triangle inform Part II of why design thinking should be used to innovate in a compliance program.

In Winter’s New York Times (NYT) obituary, Phil Jackson said, “I wasn’t a very good coach and didn’t have a lot of knowledge, and he had a lot of knowledge. He’s like the mind of the basketball gods.” Michael Jordan said of Winter, “I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game of basketball. He was a tireless worker, always focused on details and preparation, and a great teacher.” The Triangle Offense focused on process and fundamentals, over playground moves and was a forerunner of the space and pace offense at Miami with LeBron James and the motion offense currently used by the Houston Rockets.

I thought about Winter and his passion for process in innovation in the context of the recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, entitled “Why Design Thinking Works”, by Jeanne Liedtka. Yesterday I began a consideration on why design thinking can be such a powerful tool to create a fully operationalized best practices compliance program. Today we consider some of the steps you should take in that process.

According to the Interactive Design Foundation, there are five stages in design thinking which they derive from the model proposed by the Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. It is the leading university when it comes to teaching Design Thinking. The five stages of Design Thinking, according to Hasso-Plattner Institute, are as follows: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Liedtka notes that each step has “a clear output that the next activity converts to another output until the organization arrives at an implementable innovation.”

This change comes through the customer experience or the discovery process, which in the compliance world translates to the employee experience and is a key reason that design thinking is so successful. Liedtka identifies three areas. The first is immersion and this allows the designer to consider the project from the perspective of the end user. The key is to understand the user’s needs which may not be expressed and may also reflect the designer’s own biases. Further, in addition to data a designer may take into account, immersion “in the user experience provides raw material for deeper insights. In sense making, the designers take the most important data inputs and literally have all key stakeholders comment on it. This commenting takes the form of small notes or questions which can be put on Post-It notes. These notes are then aggregated, sorted into clusters and mined for insights. In the alignment prong, the synthesized information is then put into “possibilities” rather than constrained by the status quo. This allows truly innovative ideas and solutions not to be overtaken by “safe incremental ones.”

The next step is idea generation. It begins with the step of emergence where more participants work to build on the ideas generated from the final phase of employee discovery. It is not a negotiation of ideas and concepts of differences. The key here, as Liedtka notes, is that “Champions of change usually emerge from these kinds of conversations, which greatly improves the chances of a successful intervention.” The final step in this process Liedtka labels as Articulation. In it, take all of the ideas which have come through the process to this point and “question their implicit assumptions.” Liedtka believes that if these assumptions are not challenged, then the persons advocating the ideas will only do so from their perspective of “how the world works”.

Liedtka states that at the end of the idea generation process, “innovators will have a portfolio of well-thought-through, though possibly quite different, ideas. The assumptions underlying them will have been carefully vetted, and the conditions necessary for their success will be achievable. The ideas will also have the support of committed teams, who will be prepared to take on the responsibility of bringing them to market.” Liedtka labels the final step as the testing experience. It is not simply a confirmation of the design but rather “It’s about users’ iterative experiences with a work in progress”. In this phase, Liedtka identifies two components. The first is pre-experience and it is “creation of basic, low-cost artifacts that will capture the essential features of the proposed user experience. These are not literal prototypes—and they are often much rougher than the “minimum viable products” that” you can test with your employees. The next step is learning in action and these are real world experiments to not only test viability but to help reduce your employees fear of change.

Tomorrow I will have some concluding thoughts about the use of design thinking in compliance and hopefully report the Astros have started their three game run.

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© Thomas R. Fox, 2018