Bridge the Gap Between Tech & Human Experience

Sydney Harbour Bridge from Bell Shakespeare

Over the past couple of days I’ve had the privilege of hanging out with a great bunch of leaders in a perfect location at Bell Shakespeare. I facilitated an interactive workshop on desirability, viability, feasibility to get beyond the hype of tech… and to bridge the gap between tech and human experience. Fitting to have a literal bridge right there 😃

I feel lucky to have been part of the two day Sanitarium Leading Edge Conference experience with 130 of their leaders from all areas of the organisation – distribution, manufacturing, sales, marketing, tech, finance, legal, compliance, and more… based mostly in Australia and NZ but also some over from the UK, USA, and India. Over the two days, four groups of leaders rotated through for the workshop.

The Activity

To facilitate the interactive part of the workshop, Grant Show, Shane Currey, and I designed a deck of 20 desirable, viable, feasible (DVF) cards that each focused on key elements of each and posed a how might we question to prompt the conversation.

In teams of three or four, the participants chose a scenario with a proposed tech solution and the promised benefits. The teams then selected the six DVF cards they thought were the most important considerations for the scenario.

It was great seeing different ways the teams approached the activity, used the cards, and their rationale for why they were the most important considerations. As the activity progressed, I asked them to review the cards they had left out… and discuss the tradeoffs they were making and what gaps and risks this might introduce. And how they would manage those risks.

Each team then played back to the group the scenario they chose, the six DVF cards they selected and why, and the gaps and risks they identified. The other teams then asked clarifying questions to deepen their understanding – without providing feedback.

As a group we then reflected on what we noticed about the three lenses or perspectives… and how they might use this in their daily work.

To set the scene before jumping into the activity we framed things up…

The Hype vs Reality

We started by discussing the hype that surrounds different tech… and the reality of how hard tech and digital transformations projects are – with Forbes research finding that 84% of projects fail, and a Project Management Institute (PMI) 2017 survey finding that 14% are cancelled without anything being delivered.

Why do these projects fail? Research has found that 70% of all software implementations fail because of poor user adoption and 83% of senior executives state their biggest challenge is getting staff to use the software.

There’s huge potential upside though when these programs are successful. Deloitte research found that 43% of digitally mature companies report higher net revenue growth and higher net profit margins than industry averages. A Capgemini report found a 20% increase in customer satisfaction levels from successful digital transformation.

So what’s it mean to be “digitally mature” and to achieve successful digital transformation?

It means bridging the gap between tech and the human experience.

How do we do that?

Purpose & Vision

The first thing is to be clear on the purpose and vision of the organisation… and how this flows through to the purpose and vision for the project. When we have clarity on why we’re doing something, it’s a lot easier to filter options and make choices that create great experiences – and make the vision real.

Obviously I encourage you to be making business and design decisions that help accelerate the transition to more regenerative ways of living and doing business. Business, product, and service ideas that customers love, make money, and do great things for people and our planet… all while increasing the wellbeing of all stakeholders involved.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation and solving complex problems – it’s as much about doing as thinking.

There are two iconic visualisations of mental models for this approach to design. The double diamond and the three lenses. They’re a couple of my favourite shapes.

Double Diamond

The double diamond came from the Design Council in 2004 as a simple way to visualise the design and innovation process. It’s been remixed by many since. The model was designed to be relevant in any field of problem-solving. At the time of its creation, this included business, science and technology, and social challenges. Yes, the social context has been there all along – not force-fit as an afterthought.

I love how simple but powerful it is as a visualisation of the problem-solving process. The first diamond is focused on the problem and the second diamond on the solution. An easy reminder that we always need to really understand the problem before jumping to solutions.

Design thinking double diamond

The other core concept is we go through iterative cycles of diverging and converging. When we’re diverging, we’re exploring, gathering information, opening things up. Obviously we can’t diverge forever because we run out of time, money, and stakeholders’ patience – and nothing is resolved. So, we also need phases of converging. This is when we’re making sense of what we’ve found, testing our thinking, and narrowing options.

Problem Diamond
The focus of the problem diamond is to get clarity and build deep empathy for the people, problem, and context you’re focusing on. This often starts with a question or a challenge. As we progress, we’re constantly testing our thinking to see if we’re focused on the right problem. Is it the real problem, or just another symptom? There’s no point in having great solutions that don’t solve problems that matter.

I hope it’s obvious that you can’t reliably get this information and build empathy without directly interacting with the people you want to help. Sadly, it’s amazing how often people are building solutions for people they don’t really know anything about, and haven’t even had a conversation with.

The problem diamond is focused on collecting information, building empathy, and understanding what is – resisting the urge to jump to what might be.

When we get to the point in the middle of the two diamonds, our ambition is clarity. Sharp clarity on the clearly defined problem to solve that’s now informed by evidence, meaningful insight, and empathy.

With our sharp clarity on the real problem to solve, it’s now time to explore solutions.

Solution Diamond
The focus of the solution diamond is to get clarity on the solution concept, describe how it works, design the experience, and start building it. This means a lot of prototyping, testing, and iteration.

The first part of the solution diamond is a divergent process to explore many possible ideas to solve the clearly defined problem you’ve identified – that’s now informed by evidence, meaningful insight, and empathy.

We often fall in love with our ideas very quickly, and the temptation is to just dive straight into the original solution idea – which you probably had on day one. I encourage you to resist that urge, and spend some time exploring multiple ways that you might solve for the problem.

How do I know if it’s the right solution? That’s one of the ways the Three Lenses is so powerful…

The Three Lenses – Desirable, Viable & Feasible

We need to assess our ideas through three perspectives: desirable, viable, and feasible. The aim is to have the biggest possible overlap between all three. Of course, we use it to understand the current state and perspectives in the problem diamond too.

3 lenses of desirable, viable, and feasible

Taking a human-centred design approach, we always start with the people. So, the first perspective to understand is what’s desirable for the people you’re focused on. Really immersing in this perspective is what we do in the problem diamond. We continue doing this in the solution diamond.

What motivates them, and what do they find appealing? What do people actually think about our solution idea? How do people make decisions? Does it create meaningful social and/or environmental value? Are we solving a problem that matters?

From the organisation’s perspective, what’s viable? Can we afford to do it and be financially successful providing the solution, ideally in a self-sustaining way? What will it cost? How will we fund designing, building, launching, and running it? How much will people pay?

From the organisation’s perspective, what’s feasible? Do we have or can we get the skills to design, build, launch, and run this solution? Can we realistically make it happen? Are we the right people to be doing it?

Let’s Collaborate

We specialise in coaching, training, and working alongside leaders to help them design, build, and launch ideas that customers love, make money, and do great things for people and our planet… all while increasing wellbeing.

A key way we do this is by designing and delivering action learning experiences with masterclasses, workshops, innovation sprints, and leadership, design thinking & innovation programs. These sessions build personal, team, and organisational capability to solve problems that matter with more:

  • Clarity on your purpose, goals, and approach to navigate complexity and make progress
  • Momentum to achieve your goals by building the workflows, rhythms, and habits for success
  • Confidence to move forward with more certainty and less risk while increasing your wellbeing

Ready to have fun collaborating to solve problems that matter?

Book a free 15-minute discovery call.