How do you use design thinking?

by Brett Henebery02 Mar 2017
In a recent survey by Deloitte of global human capital trends, 84% of business leaders called for improved organisational learning as a top priority and 44% said it’s urgent.

This comes at a time when transformative forces are reshaping the workplace, and according to Deloitte: “executives see a need to redesign the organisation…driving change for both HR functions and the organisations they serve.”

Across organisations, the L&D challenges are radically different from those faced by previous generations of leaders.

Consequently, the potential solutions may need to be radical too – and this an area where design thinking can help, whether it’s by introducing new innovations or by helping organisations totally rethink their corporate L&D.

Bruce Tulgan is the founder and CEO of RainmakerThinking. He is an adviser to business leaders all over the world and a sought-after keynote speaker and seminar leader.

Tulgan told L&D Professional about how organisations are using design thinking to improve their existing processes.

“Design thinking is probably most commonly applied in corporate learning and development when it is used to teach repeatable solutions to recurring problems,” he said.

“It is a cousin of continuous improvement, but it is usually tied to some kind of “after action review” process, such as is used in the military.”

Tulgan points to an example.

“After an ‘action’ – whether successful or not – decision/action trees are reviewed,” he said.
“These look at what decisions and actions were taken, what were the outcomes, what decisions/actions could have been taken, what might have been alternative outcomes.”

Tulgan said this sort of “after action review” is intended to continually test standard operating procedures and best practices and ensure that “repeatable solutions” are continually reviewed and improved as they are tested in real life against real recurring problems.

However, As Josh Bersin from Bersin by Deloitte explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Unfortunately, the problem is not one of designing better programs or simply replacing or upgrading learning platforms. Rather, there is something more fundamental going on – a need to totally rethink corporate L&D, to shift the focus to design thinking and the employee experience.”

He added that in today’s “always-on, distracting work environment”, people simply don’t take the time to learn unless it feels relevant and it’s embedded in the work.

“When there are thousands of videos and other types of content available online, we need an experience map to help people find and apply just what they need,” he wrote.

“I know many of you are frustrated with the learning programs and experiences you have at work. Ask your L&D department to consider applying design thinking to those problems. I think you’ll find a whole new world of learning will emerge.”


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