If you’ve been following our recent series on Design Thinking, you’ll know it’s a powerful approach to problem solving that spurs innovation and growth by combining what is desirable from a human perspective with what makes the most sense technologically and economically.
In Mobility Minute #10, we discussed how design thinking could be used to create an unbeatable mobile strategy. In Mobility Minute #11 we introduced you to our own proven seven-step Design Thinking process and explored the first two steps: Scoping and 360° Research. Mobility Minute #12 highlighted steps three and four: Synthesis and Ideation.
Today we’re going to bring it all together by looking at steps five, six, and seven. In Prototyping you create a portfolio of possible mobile solutions based on all the work you’ve done in steps one through four. In Validation, you work with users to test solutions and refine them based on user feedback as well as technical and business considerations. Finally, in Implementation you create a practical roadmap for fully rolling out the solution and delivering it to your users.
Let’s look at these steps in more detail:
Step 5: Prototyping
In step four (Ideation), you will have created a mobile use case map and identified which ideas were the strongest. The next step is Prototyping, when you bring those ideas to life to explore them on a more tangible level.
A simple prototype could be a paper-based visualization of a mobile device screen flow. These can be designed by users together with IT. An easy way to start such an exercise is to simply sketch a drawing of the home screen of the mobile app you are envisioning and then decide on the functional steps that take the user into a screen flow.
Don’t limit yourself to just one – we recommend that you create several mock-ups for the top solutions. When users react to more than one solution you often get unanticipated epiphanies that result in a new option no one has previously considered. Present these prototypes to users, as well as your technology business team in order to get feedback and ideas for refinement.
Step 6: Validation
As you test your prototyped ideas with users and business teams, you should also validate that the solution meets the functional requirements and is aligned to Design Thinking’s central tenets. Here are the questions you’ll want to answer:
- Is it desirable? Users must want to use the solution; otherwise, there will never be any demand for it, and adoption will be a challenge, no matter how useful or functional it is.
- Is it viable? The solution must be sustainable for the business. It needs to deliver on the key value drivers identified in the scoping phase, and provide a solid business case with measurable success for your key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Is it feasible? The solution is something you must be able to design, develop, and produce via an efficient and cost-effective process, and IT must be able to deliver it and support it throughout its lifecycle.
When it comes to prototyping and validation, think quick and dirty. You don’t want to invest a lot of time in each prototype – just get the basics down and then start getting feedback right away. This shortens the cycles of validation and allows you to identify the best solution in minimum time. “Fail early, fail often” is a popular Design Thinking mantra.
As you get further into the prototyping and validation cycle, your prototypes will become increasingly sophisticated, including mock-up apps and actual working concept apps. With each iteration, you will get more feedback from users and other key players (e.g., IT, marketing, etc.), which will give you a clearer picture of how to refine the solution in order to satisfy all needs.
The value of using prototypes to evaluate and validate use cases can never be underestimated. Prototypes remove the ambiguity that can exist when solutions are defined merely as a list of functions or requirements. Prototypes also work on a “show” rather than “tell” basis, enabling solutions to be validated in context. This is particularly important for mobile applications where location and other contextual elements will define whether a prototype that worked in the lab can work in the field as well. For example, you can answer questions such as, “Does the user walk around while using the app? If so, does hands-free work mean a ‘voice’, rather than ‘text’ interface works best?” These are questions no amount of theorizing or conjecture can answer.
Step 7: Implementation
Design Thinking is a methodology geared towards designing solutions rather than implementing them. That said, you can use the methodology of Design Thinking up to the stage of creating a roadmap for a mobile portfolio of solutions and services that will help make the delivery stage a success.
In addition to identifying the “what”, or in this case which solutions should be developed, a holistic mobile road map should also answer the following:
- Why (Value Management): Identifying, describing, tracking and optimizing the benefits of the mobile solution
- How (Technical and Organizational Realization): Defining, deploying and managing the lifecycle of IT systems, as well as implementing and operating the governance mechanisms (e.g. risk and security, organization, skills and transformation) that help keep the balance between encouraging mobile use and maintaining control over it.
- When (Program and Project Management): Managing the timely delivery of the mobile journey
By taking a human-centric approach to these tasks and balancing the needs and requirements of all parties involved, you can ensure that your solution will achieve the goals you set out for it.
Design Thinking is very effective for tackling “wicked problems.” Problems that are difficult to solve because they lack complete data, involve multiple interested parties with different needs and expectations, and/or are interconnected with other problems in a way that makes it difficult to make accurate “cause-effect” predictions. Which is why Design Thinking is such an excellent process for creating successful mobile solutions.
In such a rapidly changing technological world – where users are often unable to articulate what they want before they get it – Design Thinking allows you to leapfrog over the expected and create the solutions that not only change the rules of the game, they change the game itself.
By Tonja Erismann and Jomy Pidiath | Global Mobile Strategy Services