Lessons learned from contrasting Design Thinking and Agile Project Management Methodologies
Lessons learned from contrasting Design Thinking and Agile Project Management Methodologies Juan Gasca1 2, Daniel Collado-Ruiz 1 1 Thinkers Company, Zaragoza, Spain firstname.lastname@example.org 2 Polytechnic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract. The Creative Problem Solving methodology called Design Thinking has achieved high levels of popularity in the last decade. Based on the collaborative creation of interdisciplinary teams completely devoid of hierarchy, Design Thinking can be seen as a methodology of structured creative troubleshooting. However, unstructured teams like those proposed by the Design Thinking seem to raise some doubts. How do these models fit within a wider model of project management? Or even, do they embed within functional management models? Does the absence of hierarchy really imply an absence of leadership, as is claimed? Or if there is, can design thinking benefit from making it explicit? This article will present the state of the art and research approach for integrating it in project management disciplines, particularly for methods adapted to continuously changing circumstances such as Scrum and Design Thinking, in order to answer these questions. Keywords. Design thinking, Project Management Methodology, Leadership, Scrum, Design Management, Agile1 IntroductionIn the XXI century, we face a globalized world in a constant flowing state, leavingtraditional patterns and plunging into new paradigms. It responds to emerging needs,arising from the natural evolution of human beings. Singles, dinkies, metrosexuales,adolescents, women alpha twins ...  are names coined by sociologists and marketingexperts in recent years to try to reflect the new social reconstruction. Due to recentincrease in market complexity and variety of consumers, there is a need for new toolsto capture knowledge about them.  This evolutionary change has fostered new methodologies to collect consumerinformation. One clear lines of work is co-creation. Co-creation changes innovationfrom designing FOR people to designing WITH people. Rather than being a tool or amethodology, co-creation is a mindset that engages people in the development of
products and services, thus creating new meaningful and profitable solutions andpowerful organizations adaptable for change. Through co-creation, the value nolonger resides in the products and services developed by companies and delivered toconsumers, but are created jointly between the company and the consumer.  The co-creation mindset requires a set of skills, which are mainly those of so-called―T-shaped people‖. Such people are specialists in their area, who are capable ofworking efficiently in multidisciplinary teams since they are capable of interactingand understanding specialists from other areas.  In most organizations, T-shaped skills are not created as a deliberate policy butemerge because individuals have been willing to take risks on a somewhat marginalcareer. Most formal organizational incentives encourage I-shaped skills — the deepfunctional experience represented by the T‘s stem. As a result, individuals are drivenever deeper into their expertise, which the organization continually draws on andrewards.  Changing this discouragement of multidisciplinary requires education. People tendto have a dominant profile: assimilating, converging, diverging or accommodating.The way to develop T-shaped skills born in an environment of learning or workingwhere a group of different people (4-5) interact not only in the area they are good,even through the resolution of a problem that involves the use of all the skills. Withthe practice, they will be T-shaped profiles  These backgrounds in the organization are resulting in a changing framework ofrelationships: new relationships between managers and knowledge workers, newrelationships with customers and suppliers…This is giving way in recent times to anew philosophy of thinking, as well as the principles by which organizations shouldbe structured to accomplish each task are changing.  One of the emerging trends in that sense is the application of Design Thinking, amethodology of worked shaped between others by IDEO. Placed along the planet, thisinternational innovation consultant group have been developing during the last 20years new approaches of facing projects involving the persona as central pillar andencouraging multidisciplinary teams working together to get a goal  Taking into account the philosophy of Design and the movement of designersbetween the dominant profiles we have previously seen, they have developed T-shaped profiles employees who are able to work in a creative environment through anintuitive way of thinking to face different projects by this Creative Problem Solvingmethodology: Design Thinking (DT). In this complex framework some new questions are starting to appear: How explicitis this new model facing this context? Or even, do they embed within functionalmanagement models? Is the absence of hierarchy so explicit? What will be theconsequences of this fact in the internal management? How are the multidisciplinarygroups managed inside the group?
In fact there is no much literature about the topic, mostly books and educationabout the method talk about the benefits of using it and how could improve the valuesof business and projects. However, furthermore than the principals of application,there is no information available about the proper management of it more than theintuitive movement of the team through the process. At the same time, first actionsappeared in some companies like Deutsche Telekom supports the possiblecombination of it with the agile methodologies such us Scrums in order to incorporatecreativity in their daily process.  The presumption of following this path suggeststhe chance of combining both trends. Then, it would be also possible to make explicita new approach which empowers the application of Design Thinking, through theinclusion of the DT process inside a framework defined by Scrums. In the present report we do a study of the State of Art emerging in companies, toface this new approach of working in groups and developing projects in shorttimelines. A preliminary combined model is developed under these assumptions, andit is tested in an exploratory case study to gather information about its performance.2 State of ArtFacing the trends of co-creation and multidisciplinary, a first review reveals twotrends in design and project management respectively. The design world is moving from the traditional individuality to a new address tomultidisciplinary teamwork. The main exponent of it is Design Thinking. On the otherhand, recent years have seen the apparition of a new praxis in project management:considering flexibility and shorter timelines through Agile Methodologies.2.1 Incorporation of Design to companies“Design Thinking‖ is a trend taking place nowadays. In general terms it attempts toapply in senior leadership and management positions of companies the mindset andprocesses that designer‘s use. Thereby it attempts to provide greater leadershipcapacity, giving business a broader perspective that diverges from traditionalparadigms of ―similar problems give similar solutions‖. Innovation is understood as―(…) exploring the world with our hands, testing out ideas by building them, roleplaying, (…) activities are natural characteristics of children at play.‖  All the theory converges in three tangible pillars that apply in education, businessand companies (according to D. School education program). The first of them is theprocess: iteration against lineal thinking (see figure 1) The proposed sequence is notcloses like traditional workflows, but it rather goes back and forward depending on theresults.
Fig. 1. Design Thinking Process (Source: D.School Stanford,2009)Mapping it on a convergence-divergence flow, we notice how the process suits to theassumption of ―from exploration to consolidation of knowledge‖, one time afteranother. (figure 2) Fig. 2. DT convergence-divergence flow of Thinking (Source: D.School Stanford,2009)The second key pillar is the custom-built ―space‖ to foster creativity, whichincorporates mobile furniture that adapts to specific needs. Finally, Design Thinking isbased on multidisciplinary teams, usually of 4-6 members. In a traditional approach,team members would receive tasks, but DT emphasizes the fact of all peopleparticipating in all tasks.  This approach has been put to place in companies like IDEO, LEGO, HerbalEssences, Mattel , Apple or Procter & Gamble , Despite the amount of literature on the topic, no papers were found to study therelation between DT and project management tools, or even about how it performswhen related to the company‘s management. Project management is more elaboratethan a process or a space, and how DT fits as a task of a project, as a philosophy toincorporate in project management, or as a framework to start projects, is still a matterto be considered.
2.2 New models of Agile PraxisOn the completely different field of software, similar developments have taken placeas well. It has faced the need to be agile and quick in developing new products to theircustomer needs, acting in a constantly changing environment, and reducing the time toreach the market . This has motivated the Agile Software Development. In March of 2001, seventeen experts on software development processes wrote theAgile Manifesto: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a planThese principles show the requisite to look for new ways of developing software thanthe traditional standards. Mainly, they created a Manifesto that, in a way, considersthe importance of the individuals as well as the customer as the central pillar of theirwork, trying to understand them and to answer faster to their needs. Inside this philosophy Scrum stands out as one of the most popular Agile Praxis. Itis a new reframed environment to develop software. Scrum is not a methodology, it isa framework. Scrum does not say exactly what to do.  The praxis from Scrum has been implemented in several other fields in relation tomanagement models: NGO´s, Business, Food Distribution companies… Scrum is acomprehensive model of management production environments based on routines,that is, environments where the tacit knowledge of individuals is more relevant, thanthe explicit content and technology processes.  Basically, Scrum is a model built as a timetable of tasks with a clear input, and aconcise output with a dateline, called Sprint. The result is a new workflow modeldefined by the following points : The definition of Sprint goals Definition of a member lists (creation of a team) Creation of the Stack Task Dateline for the Sprint Demo.Once the Sprint is planned, all the tasks are carried out, considering all disturbancesfor the next sprint. Scrum defines several roles in this process: Scrum Master: person who leads the process and helps the team properly flow. Product Owner: person who controls the results, and is closer to the client‘s needs and desires.
Team: people who develop the tasks.Despite the singularities of the process, the main difference between scrum andtraditional project management methodologies lies on the core set of values that agileteams share. The success of these teams is based on fostering transparency, trust,communication, self-organization, learning from failure, courage or generosity. Theteam members share a common goal, and together discover the best way (so far) ofdelivering the agreed product. Creativity, pragmatism and mutual support are keyaspects of agile projects2.3 Space of convergence of both approachesThe similarities and commonalities can be spotted Scrum and Design Thinking. Thishad led the research community to try for each one of them to gain the benefits of theother It seems to be possible to point out the main differences: DT is focused on encouraging creativity in projects, allowing freedom in the process Scrum focuses on flexible management, whit a closed process that does not take into account the content.In Scrum the team goes through goals and tasks, while in DT the team only moves onwhen the team members feel comfortable, in an intuitive way. At the same time, there are several common points: The aim to reach the market (and more particularly, the user) with better expectations Human resources as a key element of the model The iterations as a working principleSome attempts have been carried out from the Scrum perspective to incorporate thecreativity of DT into the process  from the perspective of Design Thinking andcreativity it is not possible to find literature about the desire and possibilities ofincorporating management praxis to the DT approach.3 Methods and toolsTo attempt first exploratory results in combining both DT and Scrum principles, anexploratory model was carried out. The first suitable framework that was selected wasa 48 hour process, so it was decided that the application of a complete iteration
through the process of the D. School based in 6 steps and a second iteration of theprototype would satisfy the action of facing a Design Challenge in that time. Isolatingthe different tasks involved in the process, the different bubbles were redefining into aset of successive steps. The aim is to translate the intuitive iterations of the DT processinto a clear structure of stages which a closed timing. The result was a first clear visualization of the model that mixes the properties ofboth, Scrum and DT, as can be seen in Figure 3. Fig. 3. Translating DT into Scrum framework (Source: self-made)Figure 3 shows the relation between the 8 tasks faced in the development of the idea,and the traditional steps from Figure 1, which wouldn´t be mentioned to theparticipants while using the methodology. Each stage would last 1:30-2 hours, andinclude small sub-lines or optional tasks. The output would be controlled for each one.First stage would have an introduction, and then the previous stage would be alwaysthe input for the following one. Stages are defined as small sprints, controlling theexpectations and wishes of the material resulting of them, but giving freedom aboutthe activities, complexity, nature and tools in them (a free product backlog). Toolswould come from DT and other new disciplines of Human-Centered Innovation likeService Design (Lego Serious Play, character profile tools, etc.). The result is theFigure 4, where have been mapped also the ―DT convergence-divergence flow ofThinking‖ appreciating how the task-restructuring respects the principles of Design.
Fig. 4. Combine methodology Scrum – DT (Source: self-made)To ensure success, there would be a person overlooking the team and controlling theflow throughout the process. The responsibility is similar to that of a Scrum Master,with no expected or planned behavior, but only expectations on the outcome. The result was the development of a new model focused on a closed creativestructured process. The assumption of the model is that, by giving more specific tasks,it is possible to manage a team quickly and result-oriented. At the same time it ispossible to have space for creativity and crazy ideas. Although the process is still prepared for a 48 hours interaction, it could be suit toany kind of time or nature of project, reframing the tasks and making a correct plan. Once the preliminary model was set, it was applied in a case-study event: theGlobal Service Jam (GSJ) taking place during March 11-13th. It consisted of a 48-hour-long common experience on Service Design, where participants in more than 55cities around the world were connected, but working and being managedautonomously. This characteristic provided a very suitable framework to test this model in a realscenario, organized in three cities in Spain, being able to compare it with a pure DTexperience (Berlin took D. School model as reference). In order to interpret thedifferences from the new model and its predecessor, it is possible to interpret theoutputs of the 2 process (Berlin, and the events in Spain), studying the deviationsbetween their results and the consequences in the creativity from groups. The events from Madrid, Zaragoza y Valencia used the model during the weekendfrom GSJ. Starting with an introduction to explain the beginning of the exercise, thehost responsible in the 3 cities would provide to the jammers (participants) the tasks to
do, moving the group from one to another, moderating the input point and theexpected output of the sprint. There was also a second level of responsibility, called facilitators, whose functionwas to help the Host Responsible to encourage the work of the teams. There werebetween 4-5 jammers or team members per team and 90% were not used to DT praxis. On the other hand the event in Berlin was organized by 5-6 members of Gammaka,the last group of alumni from D. School Postdam. They participated as normaljammers without a clear Host Responsible, following the flat organization principlesfrom DT. Around 35-40% of the participants were Design Thinkers (people formed orused to the process, mostly alumni from D. School Postdam). They started the eventwith an introduction to the different processes of Design Thinking (models fromStanford, Fjord consultant, HPI…) debriefing on the steps and the tools involved. On a post-event online meeting, Mechmet Chiousemoglou, one of the organizers,gave details on the development of the Berlin Jam . During the workshop, no verystrict model was followed. They respected the steps and philosophy of DT, movingthrough stages with similar properties and tools, and behaving as if they were usingthe Stanford principles. They used common terminology for the steps such asempathy, synthesis, etc. It was however not done with a clear process, but rather in anintuitive way.4 ResultsAfter 48 hours of workshop, both models reach a satisfactory final with 4-5 final ideasper city. Assessment of the creativity and feasibility of the ideas shall allow thecomparison between the results of the 2 models (the new one and traditional DesignThinking). For the cases presented, there do not seem to be considerable deviations,since results seem rather similar in nature. Some big differences can be detected at first sight. The teams in Spain reached ahigher level of development in their presentations, creating videos or PDF´s throughstorytelling, taking photos or recording videos, i.e. incorporating post processingtools. The submissions from the teams in Berlin were videos from their finalpresentations, where they use tools like role-playing to act out the concept (2/4) orexplain it directly with the help of some additional materials. It did not have any postprocessing, and they did not have time for a final auto explanation presentation. This fact goes hand in hand with the number of prototypes developed by each one.The Spanish teams developed at least 2 prototypes, and dedicated all Sunday to thepresentation of the results, whilst the German teams invested most of their Saturday ina continuous discussion.
Another divergence was the role of the facilitator. In the Spanish Jam, facilitatorsprovided the jammers with a series of gates, to guide their process. The German Jamhad much more freedom in the process, as dictated by the DT approach. It must bepointed out that the role of the facilitator is critical in this aspect, and therefore thiswould need a much deeper study in order to be able to draw conclusions. When it comes to creativity, its assessment is a rather complicated matter.Nevertheless, independent assessments of such creativity have shown that both sets ofprojects (4-5 in each case) seem equally creative in their contents.5 ConclusionsOn a first analysis, the structured approach seems to deliver a much better timemanagement of the process. Spanish teams yielded much more mature concepts andwere able to test more prototypes. They were ensured not to stay too much time in thediscussion phase, whilst the German teams dedicated the whole Saturday to thatendeavor. In DT, time control is partly the role of the coaches, or is embedded in thetime-setting – to ensure a creative environment – but in this case it was successfullychanneled to the facilitator by basing itself in Scrum principles. It seems that, Spanish teams managed to keep a closed timetable when it comes tothe development process, whilst the German teams following DT behaved morechaotically incorporating tasks and controlling iterations are not unproductive matters,since they contributed to attaining the final goal. It could have been consideredinitially a potential hinder to creativity, but as a matter of fact it seems that it created abetter workflow to reach the final goal. Additionally, open stages instead of closed steps with clear sublines (Stack Taskfrom Scrum) look like a good framework to foster the creativity, since it gives thechance to reframe stages at any moment. This opens a new potential for Scrum todevelop in this direction. The main hypothesis to be proven is the feasibility of the proposed approach. Thispaper has shown that, at least preliminarily, such an approach can yield at least resultsthat are as good as DT results in a creative task. However, this opens a new line ofresearch in integration of DT to deliver project management principles that fit betterwith the creative tasks. Further research of the authors will aim at combining Scrum and Design Thinking,in a more elaborate way that the exploratory study presented in this paper. The aimwill be to develop a new project management model to face Human Focus CenteredInnovation projects in a time-controlled way. The new approach would be pragmatic,flexible and it would be built around the development of 3 roles: Coach Leader: in charge of control the process and move the people over it.
Facilitator: to move people to think wide and encourage creativity Team members: who would be the core groupThis paper presents a basic model, but upcoming steps would provide a deeperunderstanding of the idea generation process, specially aimed at being explored in thecase of Idea Generation Agencies such as Humantific or Brainstore. Knowing howpeople interact in the ideation process, and how to manage it accordingly, should shedsome light in how new products are designed – and their projects managed – in thefuture.References1. AECOC 2006, ―Nuevos modelos de hogar, todo un reto para la innovación‖1. Media Planning Group (2003), ―Los ‗seniors‘ en Europa: la madurez del sigloXXI‖2. D. K. Rhea, President, Cheskin+Masten. A New Perspective on Design: Focusing on Customer Experience. Design Management Journal (Former Series) Volume 3, Issue 4, pages 40–48, Fall 19923. C. K. Prahalad (Author), Venkat Ramaswamy (2004) : The Future of Competition: Co- Creating Unique Value with Customers4. Leonard-Barton(1995), D. A. Wellsprings of Knowledge: Building and Sustaining the Sources of Innovation. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.5. Brown, Tim (2009): Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation.6. S. L. Beckman ; M. Barry. (2007) "Innovation as a Learning Process: Embedding Design Thinking" California Management Review (2007) Volume: 50, Issue: 1, Publisher: California Management Review, Pages: 25-56 ISSN: 000812567. Spear, Steven J. Designing Products and Processes: Aligning Hierarchical Problem Levels with Problem-Solving Team Forms. Harvard Business Review. 17 pages. Publication date: Nov 02, 2004.8. Different interviews face to face with Jana Lév, Alumni D.School, Founder Darkhorse, Ex- Worker Deutsche Telekom, December 20109. D.School Stanford 2009, Bootcamp Bootleg10. Martin, Roger L.(2009): The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantag. (Dean The Rottman School of Management, University of Toronto)11. Scrum y XP desde las trincheras. (2007) Como Hacemos Scrum. Henrik Kniberg12. Scrum Manager: Proyectos – Formación. Versión 1.3.2- Octubre 2010 Juan Palacio, Claudia Ruata.13. Speech after event Mechmet Chiousemoglou, Alumni D.School, Founder Gammaka, Organicer GSJ Berlin, 29th. March 2011