Getting the Most out of Customer Journey Maps

A roadmap is only beneficial if it helps you get to where you want to go. If streets are omitted or mismarked, the map impedes your ability to reach your destination. In essence, it loses its value. The same principles apply to a customer journey map. When the journey map clearly represents the full experience

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The value of business design thinking

How thinking better and differently can be taught and learned to maximize and enhance an organization’s performance

Business design thinking can not only transform a business, but also help an organization catapult to greater levels of success. These organic, flexible and inclusive methods are the path to enhanced performance and greater prosperity. Business design thinking draws upon the lessons of design, humanistic management and system’s theory, effectively integrating complexity into a coherent and elegant experience.

There are a number of key principles for business design thinking, but for this post, we will discuss three of the most important ones:

  • “Discover-Craft-Build” iterative cycles
  • Employ a cross-functional / team-based approach
  • Build a culture of collaboration

The “Discover-Craft-Build” iterative cycles

Iterative cycles based on design thinking have many benefits. Think in terms of cycles, not linear “1,2,3” steps. Problem-solving is better tackled in small bites of exploring, designing, building and testing, then adjusting.

Create your iterative business design thinking process for the problem-solving phase by following a model of DCB: Discover-Craft-Build. In your Discover phase, collect and analyze data and insights and create solution options. Next, in the Craft phase, observe interactions from the prototypes of solution options. Lastly, in the Build phase, construct your solution by developing action plans and use feedback methods to iterate and improve.

recite-gq8t4vThere are several benefits to working in iterative cycles:

  • Early on you are able to rapidly gather initial requirements and plans; you can quickly create premises and assumptions and discover problems earlier.
  • Having reliable feedback sooner than later is invaluable. In the Craft phase, using a prototype to test and gather feedback enables you to swiftly determine if you are on the right track.
  • By using iteritive cycles, you spend less time documenting and more time designing and developing. Additionally, you are able to respond to changing company, market or environmental fluctuations.

Overall, these factors will reduce time and costs for problem-solving efforts.

Employ a cross-functional/team-based approach

Nearly every business problem today is mired in complexity. To address complex issues, form a team and design strategic conversations. While any individual can ideate and create new things, leveraging diverse thoughts and gaining input from different perspectives can generate growth and sustain a company’s competitive advantage now and in the future.

The key is to have a mix of management and staff and a diverse set of skills and ways of thinking. When people with different points of view and experiences converge, they create the types of creativity that individuals could not have done or found alone. While any individual can ideate and create new things, leveraging diverse thoughts and gaining input from different perspectives can solve the most complex problems.

There are even greater reasons to using a team-based approach. All too often an organization will suffer from “groupthink,” whereby the desire for harmony or conformity in the company will result in an unfounded decision-making outcome. By bringing together individuals with different cultures, backgrounds, and personalities, they will become more empathetic to new ideas. Additionally, they will better able to address problems and create solutions that can kindle creativity, provide insight and improve efficiency.

Build a culture of collaboration

Collaboration is the fuel of any business, whether it’s between employees, partners or customers. It is a driving force for continued efficiency among everyday tasks and a necessity for improving the outcomes of many business activities. Nearly 80% of the senior executives surveyed in a 2005 study said that effective coordination across product, functional and geographic lines were crucial for growth.

Collaboration helps spur original thinking, with connections happening across locations and departments that couldn’t have previously occurred. By nature, collaboration brings different voices, teams, specialties and opinions together to co-create and solve an existing problem or develop something completely new.

So, what can you gain by applying these principles of business design thinking? As a result you can:

  • Simplify and clarify information
  • Conceive and make things
  • Envision ideal user experiences and new product offerings
  • Differentiate products, places, and messages
  • Systematically test and iterate concepts until you get them right

By applying business design thinking, you can transform your business to be an adaptive, responsive, innovative company that can thrive in this tough, ever-changing world we live in.

Parker Lee bw headshotParker Lee is president of Compass52 and has been actively designing organizations for better performance and empowering change since the 1970s. Previously, he was president and executive vice president of business development at XPLANE, which, under his leadership, enjoyed significant annual growth while delivering innovative design thinking engagements for clients globally. During the “dot com” era, he acted as vice president of business development for four pre-IPO technology companies and pioneered the use of social media for use in communications for the California State Democratic Party during the 2004 election. Lee is a graduate of UC Davis in Organizational Development.

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The value of business design thinking originally published by SmartBlogs

How to subtract — a lesson in business design

Check out the first part of this “Simplicity Cycle” series, “How to add.”

The concept behind Garfield minus Garfield is pretty straightforward: erase the tubby orange cat from the comic strip that bears his name, but leave behind the props and other characters. The result is brilliant, fascinating, and poignant. On his site dedicated to “G-G,” Dan Walsh explains the edited comics are “a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.” If you have a taste for schadenfreude (and who doesn’t?), these comics can be super funny.

How does it work? Removing Garfield fundamentally changes the nature and message of each strip. It creates new space for the reader to explore, and introduces a wider variety of tones than the original comic ever displayed. For example, one G-G comic starts with a panel in which Garfield’s owner Jon says “These are troubled times.” For the remaining two panels, Jon sits and holds his coffee cup, without further comment, as if inviting the reader to join him in his thoughtful anxiety.

In a particularly dark comic, Jon says “Good night, I’ll attempt to, but fail to wake in the morning.” The final panel is completely empty, perhaps creating the impression that Jon not only died in his sleep, but predicted his own demise.

At other times the result strikes a joyful and hopeful note, as in the comic where the first panel shows a grinning Jon saying “Imagine what your life would be like if you had wings.” The following two panels are empty, granting the reader space to imagine flying like a bird.

G-G is a fascinating example of how “creation by subtracting” can work. As designers, coders, or engineers, we generally begin a design effort using additive tools, introducing new pieces, parts, and components to our creation. In fact, when we face a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen, adding is the only possible move. But as the design progresses and accumulates more parts, new design alternatives become available. Instead of being limited to additive methods (which I described in the previous 3-minute design lesson), we can eventually adopt reductive thinking models and subtractive techniques as a way to improve our design.

The diagram below uses the Simplicity Cycle framework to highlight a subtractive path. The thick line pointing down and to the right represents a design that is simultaneously becoming simpler and better. The slope and straightness of our specific path may vary, but if subtraction drives improvement, we’re basically heading in this direction:

how to subtract

Subtracting is a less obvious and less common approach to resolving a design problem than adding, so the techniques may feel unfamiliar at first. However, with a little experimentation and practice, we just might discover that taking things away is an even more powerful design approach than putting more things in. And it turns out we have several subtractive moves available to us, different approaches which allow us to improve a design by simplifying it.

Here are eight subtractive strategies to consider:

  1. Delete. Remove an existing piece from the design. This deletion may be a piece that is redundant, extraneous or obviously unnecessary. In other situations, we may remove a piece that appears to be useful or even essential (i.e. take Garfield out of Garfield), and we just might discover that the design performs better without it.
  2. Trim​. Remove a portion of an existing element. This strategy is subtractive in the sense that while the component itself stays in the design, it no longer contains all its original attributes or functions (i.e. Shut up, Garfield, a site that leaves the cat but removes Garfield’s speech bubbles).
  3. Integrate​. Combine multiple elements into a single element. Rather than two or more distinct parts, they are synthesized into a unified component.
  4. Shrink​. Transform an existing element into a smaller version.
  5. Remove copy. Reduce redundancy. This strategy is useful if a design element is highly dependable and has an un-used backup, if the system’s performance is generally unaffected by the failure of a particular component which thus does not need a built-in backup, or if a replacement can be quickly introduced when a component fails.
  6. Trust. Remove a piece that provides a check function and trust that the remaining components will perform as designed (see No. 5).
  7. Polish. Reduces friction between components.
  8. Delay. Introduce an element later in the process than planned. This is a form of time-shifted subtraction, where the element is always intended to be part of the design but is now included later than originally planned.

Subtracting can be a profoundly creative act, and when we remove the metaphorical Garfields from our own designs, we may find we have created something entirely new and entirely better. So give it a try — grab an eraser and see what you can create.

Dan Ward is the author of “The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide To Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse” and “F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation.” He holds three engineering degrees and served in the U.S. Air Force for over two decades researching, developing, testing, and fielding military equipment. He is the founder of Dan Ward Consulting, LLC.

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How to subtract — a lesson in business design originally published by SmartBlogs

How to add

Another 3-minute design lesson from “The Simplicity Cycle”

Imagine Sherlock without Watson, chocolate without peanut butter, or an accelerator without a brake. In each case, we would have something good but incomplete. Sherlock may be brilliant at solving crimes but he lacks a humanizing bedside manner, which Watson provides. Chocolate is delicious on its own, but the sweet notes are improved and elevated by the addition of a slightly salty peanut butter. And the gas pedal is terrific at making the car go, but at some point we’ll want to slow down or perhaps even stop. Thus, the brake pedal. In each case, adding something (a partner, a complementary flavor, an opposing mechanism) improves the overall experience. The story gets more interesting, the dessert more delicious, the vehicle more drivable.

As designers, coders, or engineers, adding to a design is one of the first creative steps we take. In fact, when we face a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen, adding is the only move available to use. Of course, a single element is seldom sufficient, so we continue to add new pieces, parts, and components as the design matures and gets more complex. The theory is that these additions make our design better – and much of the time, that is the case.

During this early phase of a design, where we add new parts that make the design better, we can map our trajectory on the Simplicity Cycle diagram as a line that points up and to the right. The slope and degree of straightness may vary, but if the design is simultaneously becoming more complex and better, we’re basically heading in this direction:

dan ward how to add 1

It turns out there are many different additive moves available to us, different approaches which allow us to expand and improve a design. Here are eight additive strategies to consider:

  1. Introduce: Insert a previously absent piece into the design. This addition might be a counter-point that performs the opposite of an existing function (i.e. a brake pedal to accompany a gas pedal), or a counter-weight to balance out an existing component.
  2. Replace: Exchange an existing element with an alternative piece. This strategy is additive in the sense that it introduces a new component, but it also involves removing something from the design.
  3. Divide​: Split a single element into multiple elements. Rather than one superhero with 10 powers, create a team of superheroes with one or two powers each.
  4. Expand: Transform an existing element into a larger version of itself.
  5. Add copy: Introduce redundancy. These could take the form of a hot-backup, ready to take over a function in the event of a primary system’s failure. Or the copy can perform its function alongside the original, as in the dual wheels on a semi-trailer.
  6. Monitor: Insert a check function to confirm an existing element performs as designed. A monitoring function generally produces a signal to indicate status and may automatically trigger a switch-over to a back-up system (see #5 above).
  7. Roughen: Increase friction between design elements, either in the form of a time delay or a more physical degree of friction. Friction can improve traction and prevent slippage.
  8. Accelerate: Introduce an element sooner in the process than planned. This is a form of time-shifted addition, where the element was always intended to be part of the design but is now included earlier.

A word of caution: Because additive moves are most effective in the early stages of a design, they are also the easiest tools to over-use. Adding new pieces and parts is an essential and productive strategy — until it isn’t. We need to be sure we don’t flood Sherlock with too many Watsons, overwhelm the chocolate with too much peanut butter, or equip our car with too many brake pedals.

So, in addition to learning how to use additive strategies, we’ll need to add an additional method to our toolbox: subtracting. That is the topic for our next 3-minute design lesson, coming soon.

Dan Ward is the author of “The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide To Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse” and “F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation.” He holds three engineering degrees and served in the U.S. Air Force for over two decades researching, developing, testing, and fielding military equipment. He is the founder of Dan Ward Consulting, LLC.

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How to add originally published by SmartBlogs