The 2020 Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit

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WHAT AN INCREDIBLE EVENT!  

The Quality 4.0 Summit was a huge success! This past week, more than 200 quality professionals from around the globe gathered together online to learn how to draft a digital blueprint. Each of the three days was packed with amazing presentations and insights, followed by dynamic discussion.  With the variety of different events on the schedule, you had many options to chose from.  There was so much to see and do to engage with experts and peers.  There was even Happy Hour Trivia two nights in a row with the winners earning a free virtual registration to the 2021 WCQI event!  If you weren’t there, you missed an incredible Summit.   

Quality 4.0 aligns quality practices with the digital environment but we know implementing Quality 4.0 in organizations can be hard. This three-day digital event featured the most popular elements of the annual Quality 4.0 Summit–like innovative keynote speakers and future-focused sessions–while also adding new interactive components.  

For all of those who joined us for the 2020 Quality 4.0 Summit, thank you for being part of this first-of-its-kind virtual event! Keep reading to learn about some of the key take-aways from this week and put a reminder in your calendar now to plan for the Quality 4.0 Summit in 2021! 

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Sheryl Connelly presented “Confessions of a Corporate Futurist: Coming Trends that Will Revolutionize Your Business”. The future plays out in unexpected ways, despite the best efforts to prepare for the unknown. Most often, the success and failure of an organization comes down to two things: its ability to manage uncertainty and effectively identify how trends could have significant impacts to one’s business. Connelly revealed her secrets for how to think like a futurist, providing expertise and strategies necessary for effectively anticipating change. From the 10 megatrends that could change the world as we know it before the year 2050, to perspective that will forever change one’s approach to long-term planning and strategy, she delivered the insights necessary for organizations across industry sectors to prosper, innovate, and remain relevant in our world. 

Michael Gale led an interactive keynote presentation, “Excellence in a Digital Age: Where Quality Evolves in a World of Uncertain Opportunity”. Gale walked participants through the underlying shifts in thinking and architectures for the 28% of companies thriving with their digital transformations, and how they can apply that thinking to influence their own organizations. Gale showcased data from the research partnership between ASQE and Forbes Insights for the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool and discussed how executives and quality professionals look at information. The session tapped into research for Gale’s best-selling book, The Digital Helix. Gale reintroduced and emphasized the five aspects of excellence, and how they can be used to implement Quality 4.0.  

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Mike Lipkin kicked off the third day of the Summit with his inspiring (and entertaining) keynote “Use Your Superpowers to Lead the Recovery”. Drawing on the post-pandemic reality organizations will have to adjust to, Lipkin provided examples of how the professional landscape is changing, and how listeners can breakthrough this new environment. Lipkin guided listeners through ten key forces that are shaping the immediate future and demonstrated the power of certainty, charisma, and conditioning.  

In the final keynote presentation, Radha Agrawal presented “Community Building 101”. She outlined the roles of attendee’s “friends”, “followers” and “users” and how all those relationships can still leave people feeling isolated. Radha Agrawal called this “community confusion.” She discussed how leaders need to cultivate their personal communities beyond business. When leaders find support, they create connections–both personal and within their teams—which studies show are key to happiness, fulfillment, and success. Radha shared the outcome of 18 months dedicated to synthesizing her key methods for community building called the CRAWL (core values, rituals, aesthetics, why, language) Method.  

This year’s event featured three focus areas that helped attendees customize their experience according to which part of Quality 4.0 was most interesting to them. Each focus area had a curated selection of workshops, and on-demand sessions. 

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For those just beginning their journey with Quality 4.0, or who want to brush up on their foundational knowledge, this focus area provided the building blocks of Quality 4.0, from terms and definitions to implementation strategies.  

In the session “Unleashing Quality to Support Industry 4.0” presenter Arron Angle outlined the issue that many quality professionals know to be true-only 15% of organizations believe that quality is a priority for executive management, but prioritizing quality can have large positive impacts to a company’s bottom line. Angle explained the value of Behavior Based Quality, or BBQ, to help executive leadership buy-in and promote a culture of quality across an organization. Angle laid out the ways that having a “breathing” BBQ can help aid participants in implementing their Quality 4.0 program.  

Attendees looking to contextualize their role within digital transformation found André Carvalho’s presentation especially useful. In “Why Digital is Not Enough: Finding Value with Quality 4.0”, Carvalho explained the limitations of technology-driven approaches to Industry 4.0. He gave examples of the ways that quality practitioner’s perspectives are valuable, even in organizational focus is heavily on technical innovation. With the variety of methodologies used in “traditional” quality, Carvalho emphasized the importance of creating an integrated approach to Quality 4.0, in order to identify the real value in the technologies, processes, and strategies adopted.  

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The ability to integrate quality into new technologies is critical for the success of Quality 4.0. With sessions highlighting data and automation, this focus area helped attendees see their role in digital transformation.  

Constantin Stan and Alexandra Niculae provided a great scope of information on the robotic process automation (RPA) in their presentation “How the 6 Sigma Belts Improve Robotic Process Automation”. They discussed how an improved process is more suitable for automation, and how a preliminary Lean Six Sigma project will bring even more results than the automation itself. The pair provided insights on how to prioritize the right processes for the robotic process automation, the right tools and deliverables for the process transformation, frequent errors – the efforts and mitigation plans, the Process Design Document which included content and traps to avoid for LSS professionals, as well as discussing roles and responsibilities of an LSS professional in every RPA project. 

In the presentation “Preparing for AI with Lessons from Your Gage R&R Past” Christopher Colaw explained how AI maturity depends on detection and classification capabilities, as well as an adequate source of training data, in addition to minimized hardware variation (visual cameras and lighting hardware). He grouped these focus areas can be grouped into two main actions for the organization; 1) qualification of the AI Algorithm, and 2) Attribute Gage R&R for the hardware which is used to capture the image and enable execution of the AI Algorithm. Colaw explained how only after these two actions are successfully satisfied can the Quality 4.0 organization display confidence in their efforts to ensure this new form of measurement variation is minimized. 

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This focus area aimed to help quality professionals understand how their organizations can build a cultural foundation of innovation through training, management, and measurement tools. 

Scott Burgmeyer and Tammy Rogers presented “Culture Through Self-Awareness & People Data”. During this workshop, participants delved into the science behind what drives people. By understanding the core drives, participants can use this people data to be an effective and productive team member and leader. Burgmeyer and Rogers used examples to showcase how understanding ourselves, our team members, and using people data builds high performance and positive employee engagement.  

Attendees of every generation found a lot of value in the session “Engaging the New Generations in Quality 4.0” lead by Luciana Paulise. Paulise provided relatable examples of the changing and evolving workplace, and how each generation behaves. It’s critical for leaders to learn how to attract, train, and engage the younger generations of quality professionals, and Paulise laid out ways to understand Millennials and Gen Z in order to build a new employee experience in Industry 4.0.  

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The Lighthouse Series helped attendees connect with the newest trends and emerging technologies in quality program implementation while learning from industry frontrunners. 

During “Easing into Big Data: From Logistic Regression to CART” speaker Kristine Nissen Bradley built upon quality professional’s foundation of data knowledge to explore the current machine learning approaches that are becoming common in the field. Nissen Bradley explains the Classification and Regression Trees learning technique and walks participants through how to interpret the analysis.  

In a very relevant on-demand session, Therese Costich presented “COVID-19-Forcing Digital Transformation”. Costich explained how the term disruption often connotes negativity when it should be considered an opportunity for positive change. In this session, participants discussed the opportunities that arise as a result of embracing disruption, how an organization can thrive by taking advantage of the opportunities, and how organizations in any industry can redefine how they do business by streamlining their digital transformation journey with an operational excellence platform. 

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On Wednesday, attendees got an exclusive preview of the new ASQExcellence offering, the Insights on Excellence Benchmarking Tool. ASQE chair Dani Picciotti and CEO Jim Templin led the presentation. The presentation highlighted how the Insights on Excellence (IoE) tool has been developed through the partnership with Forbes Insights, and described its functionality as an intuitive tool for a variety of employees within organizations. This tool will be a leading benefit of the new ASQE Organizational Membership levels, which are coming in early 2021.  

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Even though event participants couldn’t swap business cards in the hallway or chat over meals, the Summit created plenty of opportunities for the quality community to connect and learn from one another.  

Brain Dates, a new feature in the 2020 Summit, were small interactive sessions, that fostered group discussions around identifying solutions to common challenges. From learning how to publish a book, use storytelling to lead teams, to recovering customer relationships participants were able to get their questions answered and network with like-minded colleagues.  

Attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about the event sponsors, and ASQ and ASQE services through the Quality 4.0 Solutions Center. By clicking through this interactive portal, participants could explore new industry product and service offerings, download exclusive resources, and even pop into a video chat room to have real conversations with Solution Center representatives.  

At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, attendees were unable to unwind with Virtual Happy Hours featuring hosted trivia!  Both nights reflected an equal combination of competition and fun as attendees played to win a virtual registration to WCQI 2021.  It was a great way to end each full day of learning.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a great Quality 4.0 Virtual Summit, we look forward to continuing to help you succeed with digital transformation, and we will see 2021!  

Be sure to keep an eye out for our upcoming events, including Medical Mondays in November. This new series will offer insights into how quality professionals in the healthcare community can not only manage the current conditions facing them but build meaningful quality processes and systems that will last.

This event would not have been a success without our sponsors and exhibitors!

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How to Be a Successful Virtual Manager

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As people around the world settle into a “new normal” of working remotely, professionals must adapt to digital workflows and leaders must learn how to manage teams and grow their careers in new and effective ways. To help facilitate this unprecedented change, ASQ has gathered some key resources to help you and your team navigate remote work successfully.


Leading Change Successfully

In this webcast from 2018, author and Journal of Quality and Participation contributor Rick Maurer guides readers through changing your organization while creating a culture of quality.

8 Ways to Manage Your Team While Social Distancing

This Harvard Business Review article by LeaderFactor CEO Timothy R. Clark provides specific tips for leading teams remotely that can help new and experienced managers.

Senior Management and Quality

Available as an e-book, Fin Rooney strips back the myths surrounding quality in this book and provides a framework for devising a coordinated quality strategy and showing how quality is an organization-wide value-adding service.

Culture is Everything

Jeff Veyera released Culture Is Everything this year, showing readers how to diagnose their company’s culture in terms of its suitability for their quality improvement approach, and providing guidance on how to tailor the readers approach to that culture, or change the culture to better suit their approach. This book helps prepare managers to be part of strategic decisions, and lead through quality improvement.

Process-Based Leadership

In Shane A. Yount’s keynote address from the 2014 ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference, Yount presents on business transformation, and how to create and sustain high performance from operations and employees.

Human Development & Leadership Division

One of ASQ’s 26 Technical Communities, the Human Development & Leadership Division is a hub for quality professionals looking to advance their leadership skills. Anyone can download free informational primers on topics like Measuring Performance and Employee Motivation. Your ASQ membership gets you full access to all division content, including exclusive discussion boards and networking opportunities.  

September Roundtable: Agile vs. Lean

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Don’t miss the opportunity to discuss lean and other topics like change management and risk management at the 2020 ASQ Lean and Six Sigma Conference. Register today to continue the conversation

Over the past few years, Agile has gained popularity. This methodology emerged as a solution to manage projects with a number of unknown elements and to counter the typical waterfall method. Quality practitioners have observed the numerous similarities between this new framework and Lean. Some have speculated that Agile is simply the next generation’s version of Lean. These observations have posed the question:

Is Agile the new Lean?

Members of ASQ Influential Voices shared their thoughts:

Sara Haynes:

I’ve worked with both Agile and Lean in my career. To me, asking if Agile is the new Lean is a little like asking if carpentry is the new plumbing. They are different trades, used for different purposes. Agile is a methodology of designing and developing products, and Lean is a methodology for streamlining operations. I worked at a company that transitioned from a traditional waterfall approach for design requirements, to an Agile method. What struck me most was the dramatic increase in the sense of urgency. It’s hard to get excited about a deadline that is 8 months away – 8 days feels much more real.

Lean is an approach to operations that focusses on flow. Identifying and eliminating barriers that stop flow, and implementing quick and easy solutions now vs. expensive and capital-intensive solutions. With software development, where Agile is most commonly applied, the hardest part is making the first release. Once you have the final release, it’s simply a matter of copying. Whereas with hardware development, the hardest part is not making the first prototype, it’s getting to mass production: being able to produce your design consistently, efficiently and cost-effectively. These are very different challenges that require different solutions. Agile, vs. Lean.

Read her blog.

John Hunter: 

No, Agile is not the new Lean.

There are many useful concepts, tools and practices within what people refer to as agile software development. And the same can be said for lean. But they are distinct approaches (the links in this post flush out this idea more for those interested in learning more on that topic). That isn’t to say an organization cannot design their own solution that adopts ideas found in each approach. In fact doing so for software development makes sense in my opinion.

If you decide to transform your management system using lean management practices as a focus I think you can do great things. I would delve deeply into lean and also learn about Deming and agile software development. And if you decide to create an agile styled management system then do that and learn from Deming and lean as you continually improve. In either case continually iterate and improve they management practices that are used.

Read the full article on his blog.

Nicole Radziwill:

The short answer to this question is: NO.

The longer answer is one I’m going to have to hold back some emotions to answer. Why? I have two reasons.

Reason #1: There is No Magic Bullet
First, many managers are on a quest for the silver bullet — a methodology or a tool that they can implement on Monday, and reap benefits no later than Friday. Neither lean nor agile can make this happen. But it’s not uncommon to see organizations try this approach. A workgroup will set up a Kanban board or start doing daily stand-up meetings, and then talk about how they’re “doing agile.” Now that agile is in place, these teams have no reason to go any further.

Reason #2: There is Nothing New Under the Sun
Neither approach is “new” and neither is going away. Lean principles have been around since Toyota pioneered its production system in the 1960s and 1970s. The methods prioritized value and flow, with attention to reducing all types of waste everywhere in the organization. Agile emerged in the 1990s for software development, as a response to waterfall methods that couldn’t respond effectively to changes in customer requirements.
Agile modeling uses some lean principles: for example, why spend hours documenting flow charts in Visio, when you can just write one on a whiteboard, take a photo, and paste it into your documentation? Agile doesn’t have to be perfectly lean, though. It’s acceptable to introduce elements that might seem like waste into processes, as long as you maintain your ability to quickly respond to new information and changes required by customers. (For example, maybe you need to touch base with your customers several times a week. This extra time and effort is OK in agile if it helps you achieve your customer-facing goals.)Both lean and agile are practices. They require discipline, time, and monitoring. Teams must continually hone their practice, and learn about each other as they learn together. There are no magic bullets.

Information plays a key role. Effective flow of information from strategy to action is important for lean because confusion (or incomplete communication) and forms of waste. Agile also emphasizes high-value information flows, but for slightly different purposes — that include promoting:
- Rapid understanding
- Rapid response
- Rapid, targeted, and effective action

Read the full article on her blog.

Luciana Paulise:

Companies nowadays are no longer focusing on standardizing and ensuring quality. Quality is no longer value-added, is required. Lean and six sigma implementations are falling short, not because of quality issues, but because employees are not engaged enough to change. Unhappy employees equal unhappy customers. Now what, is agile the new lean?

Lean and six sigma process improvement approaches started in the auto industry and manufacturing in the ‘50s, and were successfully applied to other industries. Nevertheless, the software industry that grew significantly during the ‘90s realized that these quality practices were not fast enough. They needed to iterate faster to innovate faster. Being the customer favorite became a survival need, and they couldn’t do it without the ideas of their employees. Millennials in their workplace started asking for different ways of working. That’s how a group of IT experts developed the Agile Thinking Manifesto in 2001. They applied lean principles and tools to reduce waste and combined them with other idea generation tools and team enablers to bring innovation to the workplace more easily.

While lean provides a set of methods like 5S, kanban, just in time, agile is a cultural mindset, a way of thinking about how an organization should work. As Stephen says in his book The Era of Agile “in any particular organization, the practices that emerge will be the result of an interaction between the agile mindset and the specific organizational context”, which may include lean practices. So it is not “either agile or lean”, you can be both. For example, when I implement 5S, I always include in the training an introduction to an agile “we culture” mindset, so that team members can understand the true purpose behind the implementation.

Read the full article on her blog:

Apply Design Thinking to Quality Practices

 

More and more organizations are using design thinking to assess business concerns, discover creative solutions, and to establish market opportunities. As this strategy gains more traction ASQ asks:

How can design thinking be integrated with, and applied to quality practices?   

 

Prem Ranganath: The Art of Quality

Design Thinking is an opportunity to humanize quality and continuous improvement

Background: Design Thinking is a collection of methods and mindset that evolved at Stanford University and has now entered the mainstream in almost every industry. While the design thinking stages and methods might appear to be a framework, the essence of design thinking is the focus on ‘empathy’ and ‘experimentation’ to design innovative, meaningful and people focused solutions.

Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.

-Tim Brown, CEO OF IDEO

Design Thinking for Quality Practitioners:

There is no dearth of frameworks, toolkits and methodologies for quality management and continuous improvement. For example, a methodology like DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) provides a structured set of methods for continuous improvement along with a set of problem-solving tools and techniques for each stage in the methodology. DMAIC provides an opportunity to assess the current state using quantitative methods and prioritize problems/ opportunities for which solutions have to be implemented.

Metrics to qualify the current state and for measuring effectiveness of the solutions implemented are typically tagged to business objectives which ensures that employees understand the alignment between improvement initiatives and the potential impact of outcomes on business objectives.

If we use the Visual-01 (below) from IDEO as a reference, traditionally quality and continuous improvement initiatives are largely driven by viability and feasibility considerations. Integrating design thinking with improvement initiatives brings the ‘human’ element into focus, by driving conversation on ‘desirability’ of the solutions being proposed for implementation.

Visual-01: Dimensions of Design Thinking (source: IDEO)

Innovation Dimensions

When desirability is considered alongside viability and feasibility on quality and continuous improvement projects, it significantly improves change management and adoption. This approach also significantly increases the odds of institutionalizing and sustaining changes and ensures the effectiveness of the changes. Use of empathy as a facet to characterize current state brings more focus on the users (internal or external customers). Applying empathy alongside prototyping to evaluate alternate solution options for the future state improves engagement from the user community and will have a positive impact on the pace and extent of adoption. An informed and engaged user is more likely to be a champion for the solutions being implemented. The combination of traditional metrics and qualitative data supporting the desirability dimension can provide a new perspective for prioritizing and driving improvements.

Visual-02: Integrating Design Thinking with DMAIC

Integrating Design Thinking with DMAICVisual-02 shows the integration of a Design Thinking flow represented by the steps Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test with the DMAIC approach for continuous improvement. Integration of design thinking methods to adopt a humanized approach to characterizing (challenges and opportunities) current state. On similar lines, engaging internal and external customers to experiment and improve in a culture of play can lead to solutions that are desired by the user community and enable the quality practitioners ability to sustain and scale the improvements.

I have used the design thinking approach and methods on large transformation initiatives and during Kaizen events and I have seen significant impact on participants’ enthusiasm and engagement. The ability to empathize and experiment puts a human face to quality and process improvements and I would highly recommend design thinking to quality practitioners. I look forward to hearing from my peers on their experience with design thinking.

 

Robert Mitchell: Quality Matters 

Use Design Thinking to Innovate Your Quality Improvement Journey

Design Thinking is a strategy-making process that focuses on customer behaviors rather than opinion (aka tribal knowledge) and market research.

There is a lot of press lately about Design Thinking concepts, applications and examples in the development of new products and opening new markets. Design Thinking was popularized by David M. Kelley and Tim Brown of IDEO and Roger Martin of the Rotman School. A very good, short video on the topic was recently published by the Harvard Business Review blog . For a more detailed explanation please read the paper, “Design for Action” written by Brown and Martin.

Design Thinking process:

Design Thinking Process
From a paper recently published by Creativity At Work, “Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions for clients. A design mindset is not problem-focused, it’s solution focused and action oriented towards creating a preferred future. Design Thinking draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that benefit the end user (the customer)”.

So how might Design Thinking be applied to your Quality improvement frameworks and roadmaps? The three major stages of Design Thinking are:

  1. Observe customer behavior; define unarticulated needs
  2. Ideate, Prototype, experiment and test
  3. Bring the new concept to life; open new markets

What differentiates Design Thinking from traditional Voice of Customer collection approaches is the emphasis placed on observation of behaviors rather than relying on customers’ input to satisfaction surveys. Survey responses tend to validate Expected Quality and rarely reveal Exciting Quality opportunities (see “Kano Model”). In this way, Design Thinking is similar to Focus Panels and “Be the Customer” methods to better understand unarticulated customer needs. It is at this stage of Design Thinking that the Quality practitioner has the unique opportunity to innovate through the introduction and incorporation of Journey Mapping to document customer experiences throughout the value chain of the producer-customer relationship, from product awareness to purchase and after-sale touchpoints.

An example of customer journey map:

Customer Journey Layers

The stages in Design Thinking around Ideation and Prototyping should look very similar to your existing Product Development and Commercialization processes. Many such approaches use a stage-gate model to prototype, test, and refine product design to evaluate customer acceptance and verify production cost estimates. Quality’s role in this stage should be to coach and consult in the proper use of experimental design to minimize experimentation costs and identify potentially important interactions of inputs and process variables to optimize performance of customer needs.

Another unique opportunity in the Design Thinking process for the Quality professional is in the final stage of bringing the new concept to life. With the help of social media the properly trained Quality professional can analyze customer / consumer feedback to validate areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, focusing on opportunities to build loyalty and engagement.

One can debate whether Design Thinking is really all that new or novel an approach to the value creation process. Design Thinking reinforces the power of understanding customer behaviors and unarticulated needs to deliver Exciting, innovative new product and service offerings for improved customer satisfaction and engagement… and potentially opening whole new markets. Per Linda Naiman (Creativity at Work), “Design Thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users through a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts”. The Quality professional might also consider how Design Thinking and Journey Mapping can help him/her to innovate their professional services portfolio for increased customer satisfaction in teaching, coaching and consulting outcomes.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it” – Peter Drucker

 

Luciana Paulise: Biztorming

What is Design thinking

Design thinking is a systematic and collaborative creative problem solving approach focusing on customer needs, getting information by direct observation, and testing it in a disciplined way. Similar to the Lean startup approach, the key is to fail fast and fail often. Even Toyota production system promotes investigating as many alternatives as possible, to find the very best solution, and always urge to propose ideas and fail as fast as possible.

The three main stages

1) Invent the future: With design thinking you should imagine what could be, in the ideal world, with limitless boundaries. You need to think what your customer may want but don’t know. The way to do that is by “Camping out” with your customers, like Home depot does. They talk to customers, ask how their experience was, ask questions like “did you find what you expected, what about the price, was it easy to find?” Sometimes a customer just want something fast, meaning buying a product in your website in just three clicks. That is what you need to discover through observation, what is “unstated”. Customer know they want to Get from a to b, but don’t know how. You need to find out the best way by immersing in their lives, observing and asking questions.

Ideas for product changes may be related to new products, pricing or new store displays.

2) Test ideas. You can do Mindmapping to write down ideas after observation, and then test those ideas. Do first individually, and then test it with your team mates or even with your customers. Remember, don’t judge, simply think and write down.

Once you have your ideas mapped, you need to conduct experiments to test the ideas in the real world. You can also test new processes that maybe faster, easier or

Use cheap materials, or partial solutions or Rapid prototyping tools. It does’t have to look perfect at first. The idea is to go fast, to be able to adjust fast.

3) Bring the new product to life. Identify resources and activities to implement the new ideas. Plan how to produce, distribute and sell the product or how to change the process.

Some Case studies

Design thinking can be used in any type of industry. A health provider for example used it to re-engineer nursing-staff shift changes. Close observation of actual shift changes, combined with brainstorming and rapid prototyping, produced new procedures that radically streamlined information exchange between shifts. The result was more time for nursing, better-informed patient care, and a happier nursing staff.

The Innova School System, for example, with 23 schools thus far, is applying design thinking across its platform, from how the classrooms are built to the curriculum. and the UK’s Design Policy Unit  as described in Tim Browns’s first article on Design Thinking for HBR.

Samsung Electronics manufactured inexpensive, imitative electronics for other companies. Its engineers built products to meet prescribed price and performance requirements. In a company that emphasized efficiency and engineering rigor, the designers had little status or influence. Then, in 1996, Lee Kun-Hee, the chairman of Samsung Group, frustrated by the company’s lack of innovation decided that in order to become a top brand, Samsung needed expertise in design, and set out to create a design-focused culture that would support world-class innovation. It took a long way until getting everyone in the company on-board, but they finally made it. Now Samsung innovation process begins with research conducted by multidisciplinary teams of designers, engineers, marketers, ethnographers, musicians, and writers who search for users’ unmet needs and identify cultural, technological, and economic trends. Design thinking for them means three major things: empathy, visualization, and experimentation in the marketplace.

Tech companies are using quality tools to organize their innovation cycles, likewise automotive, manufacturing, or even consulting industries more focused on standardization should start using quality together with design thinking so as to get a disciplined empathetic approach to customer requirements.

Are you ready?