Design Thinking: Trying Experiments to Implement Ideas

By Susan Kerosky

“Fail early to succeed sooner.” David Kelley, Founder, IDEO

How many good ideas have you had that have gone nowhere? Most organizations have no shortage of good ideas – it’s the ability to experiment, learn from those experiments and evolve the ideas that tend to be the greatest challenge.

Any idea has its challenges – barriers that seem insurmountable as you consider implementing the idea.  As you grow design thinkers within your organization, helping them nurture an idea through those challenges is key to moving from an idea to implementation.

Nurturing ideas takes experimentation – trying something, incorporating the learnings and trying again. Yet how will you know which experiments are set up for success?  How do you know which experiments will yield the greatest learnings?

Consider three qualities of a good experiment:

  • Is it low risk– can it be conducted with a safe audience at a minimal cost? A good gauge is would it cost less than $100
  • Is it quick and easy– is it easy to build and run? A good gauge is can it be set up and run in under 1 hr.
  • Is it generative– will the experiment help you learn and grow the idea you are testing? A good gauge is it will generate at least two good learnings to help you adapt your idea.

In my last two blogs, I wrote about the concept of understanding extremes as part of the design thinking inspiration process – to understand the behaviors, desires and needs of those that will provide insights that are unexpected. I shared an idea for a coffee purveyor who was looking to solve for slow afternoon/evening business and generated the idea of providing expert advice on the latest in coffee brewing technology in the afternoons to increase traffic to the business. The best way for the coffee purveyor to see if this idea can be a success is with a low cost, quick prototype through storyboarding.

Storyboarding helps build out an idea before the actual experimentation is conducted and it identifies the potential opportunities or challenges with the idea. Creating a storyboard of the afternoon expert advice on coffee brewing will help surface and test some of the assumptions inherent in the idea and will quickly reveal any questions that would be part of the potential implementation of the idea.

Our experiments keep ideas alive and will nurture and evolve an idea.  It allows us to ask and answer the key questions needed to help your idea succeed.

Go for it – experiment – learn – evolve to make your ideas come to life!

Design Thinking is the latest innovative approach to Organization Change and Strategic Planning. As a certified Design Thinking Instructor, contact me to learn how this exciting concept can give you the tools to reach your team goals.