Tag Archives: design_thinking

Give yourself permission to think differently – Design thinking to the rescue

Here is an interesting news article about how Airbnb solved their problem by redefining their scope.They were stuck as they were looking at how to scale things first before solving other issues. You never know where your potential solution can come from unless you have looked at the problem from all its dimensions.


Thinking outside of the box is a key skill for an architect . It involves being exposed to new ways to think about existing issues. Most often people are so neck deep into finding solutions to problems that they forget to explore other options of how to make things better for people , customers. Most often the architects are disconnected from end user realities and design solutions considering only the technical landscape. This creates a one pointed view of looking at and arriving solutions. Most often the best solutions to customer facing solutions come from the coffee boy , the security guard or the customer who is using the system on a day in day out basis. Have we cared to check what are all the possible solutions which can enhance customer experience before going ahead with the solutions that are merely technology oriented and miss the business outcome or even the end user experience.  Design thinking is a skill for an architect or a solution designer and is a skill that has many people looking forward to which is about getting a problem all out captured in all its dimensions and looking also for problems from all quarters. It does not designate anyone with a Chief of Innovation mantle to innovate on the problem , everyone is a potential out of box thinker. Every input when processed through the design funnel could solve a teething problem with a solution that everyone in WOW !!.

Here is leaving you with a design thinking approach to solve a product rollout issue using principles of design thinking

Applying Design Thinking for Product Rollouts.


All companies have a lot of issues /problem with their product roll-outs or solution delivery mechanisms. Let’s look at how product roll-out issues can be addressed and how design thinking can be used at various stages to help it get to a well-oiled devops machinery where roll-outs are just another day to day affair.

The old school way of approaching to solve would be to define the problem and then try and solve it. Identify what the problem is and then solve it as it is said “A problem identified and defined in most certainly problem solved”.

What does Design thinking tell us? There is no one way of defining a problem and it needs to be looked at its entirety in the complete ecosystem that it manifests or resides and offer holistic solutions around that. It is multi-pronged approach as opposed to find it define it fix it and get over with it. The earlier approach involves straight jacketing the problem into a pre-defined way and then narrows the team into thinking it is limited in its scope and offer solutions around them. This is the reason why solutions although can be cleared off a product management bug tracking list shall not wow the customer or help create awesome products in future.

Learn from anyone and everyone involved in the product roll-out

Whom to involve in this process to get a full rounded perspective of everything that this issue stands for. Since the above one is related to product install and deploy the below mentioned folks can be looked at for brain storming sessions. Involve people from engineering, architecture and also include/take his opinion the courier boy who delivers the tape cut to the deployment folks as well if it applies to your scenario. Involve everyone related and not related as well idea there are no stupid ideas only things that we learn from.

Product managers , domain experts ,developers,architects,QA team, release team, actual users on location, customer end points, production sites at site remote local global and involved in deployment and rolling out patches. Talk to everyone and anyone who could be remotely connected to the issue and whose perspectives can help.

Empathize with team involved in roll-outs, internal and external

Many have pain points , bad UI experience many have database issues, script issues and so on, some of the install tool features need a UI training and are not intuitive enough, some have pre install / post deployment issues, in short it not how the user would have liked to use and see them done.

How can design thinking help here?

To arrive at what can iron out the pain points ask the following questions

  1. What is ? Product roll-outs what is it
  2. What if ? What if we can bundled it all in one piece.
  3. What wows ? One click end to end install – Ideal State
  4. What works ? What is doable in this quarter ?

Define what issues are there in your product roll-out

Let’s say you have all these problems / issues laundry list with you. Now your next level of brainstorming would be to create options or alternatives on how you can make the world a better place for the customer by ticking the bucket list of issues with alternative solutions. There could be more than one alternative for an issue.

Ideate around the various approaches

For an easy and effortless deployment / install of the product pain point, the solutions / alternatives could be as follows

  1. One click install which will explode the entire product in the relevant tree / directory structure.
  1. Create a single war / tar of your product directory.
  1. Pre-populate all your static data in configuration files and provisions to load them into the database during install.
  1. Auto run all the initial SQL seed data by means of a trigger or stored procedure.

Now we see all of the above can be the options for solving one pain point which came out when we created our laundry list. Ideally this can happen as a result of having a design thinking workshop or huddle where one and all concerned are invited and stick their pain points around post it notes.

Now the most important points while tailoring solutions under the context and culture of the end user/customer/roll-out team that you are trying to solve the problem for and more importantly EMPHATHIZE with them. What works best is think you are the one who will actually be using the system. Drive this mind-set in the team. When a group of people think on these lines you shall be amazed at the perspectives that come out. Before you lose all these different suggestions click the post it notes on the whiteboard with a camera and save it for consumption as and when you need refocus on the issues.

All of this produces qualitative data which can then be used to arrive at stories.

Capturing Product Roll-out Stories

Document scenarios where roll-outs have failed and under what conditions and complete the story board with who the actors involved were.

For example the roll-out happened when most of the support staff was on party etc.

Roll-out was not complete as the sys ops person did not have enough admin rights to restore the tape etc.

Weed Out / Flush your Idea board

Weed out ideas from your idea board that lack a wow factor and concentrate only on the top 5 or 6 concerns to start with.

Rapid Prototyping

Row towards the shore like you’re going to run out of fuel anytime and eventually focus your efforts towards building a working model.

Create solutions / stories on which of these solutions shall you apply in create hot beds to prototype solutions around them. Create quick and rapid prototypes of the solutions where it is easy to turnaround if things do not go around fine. Look for the ones which results in a compelling experience.

Test out your prototypes in the Real world

Run the prototypes through multiple test beds and more so in the real production scenarios and quickly run through the results by eliciting feedback with the larger team. Refine Refine Refine and put the feedback /results into the product effectively and action them till you have a product that resonates with the customer well.

Have a product that people fall in love with instead of creating just another product for people.