Much of the western world’s thinking, strategy development, management and problem solving is based on exhaustive analysis — the search for evidence to formulate the way forward. The flaw? The future cannot be designed by analysis of the past: the analysis serves to contrain, rather than facilitate, innovation. Design for the future calls for the integration of innovation, judgement and decision-making. This integration of social and analytical — we term Integrative Development (InD©).
The complexity of today’s environment— technology, stakeholder activism, social networking, business and organisational process— overwhelms traditional solution design approaches. Armed with more information than ever, participants still feel lack of control. New strategies and initiatives, businesses and processes, programs and contracts, consistently fail to deliver.
For relatively simple, well behaved problems systems design and engineering philosophies — based on detailed problem definition and the decomposition into component parts — work.
Unfortunately, in any complex environment, the solution design is founded on a weakness: the problem definition is a compromise. This compromise no longer reflects the ‘real’ problem and any solution is unsatisfactory to at least some stakeholders. Business design approaches— Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma and proprietary organisational design methodologies— are highly codified, demand exhaustive analysis which is costly, anything but rapid and does not engage people. Detailed analysis has its uses in identifying weaknesses in, and articulating the detail of, prescriptive processes.
In reality, the problems we face are multi-faceted, defined by the perspectives of differing stakeholders and the influences of external factors. Detailed analysis, appropriately applied, is useful in the detailed articulation and identification of weaknesses in existing processes. Engaging the intuition, experience and creativity of individuals delivers more rapid insight, innovation and ownership.
Our approach offers engaging, sustainable and rapid innovation.
Design thinking is an approach to imagine and implement new ideas. Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management, refers to it in his latest book as the ‘… next competitive advantage’. Our caution is the next ‘consulting fad’.
Design thinking is not ‘design’ that will produce a handsome fabric, stunning work of art, memorable building, or elegant commercial product.
Design thinking captures the practices employed by successful creatives who deliver smart products, packaging, branding and marketing. It does not eschew process, but seeks to embrace the creative process in a business and organisational context.
Success requires multidisciplinary thinking and cross-disciplinary activity, but this can lead to tension, contradiction, confusion and sometimes messy and chaotic cross-fertilisation of ideas.
Successful facilitation delivers clear thinking, respect for participants and process, critical review and coherent activity in delivery. In this environment, radical collaboration and innovative solutions can evolve.
Design thinking resides between analytical thinking with quantitative analysis, and intuitive thinking with abductive inference. Melding these concepts delivers the benefits of both approaches, offering a business-credible approach that delivers replicable and realisable solutions to complex problems.
Design thinking is a process common to all forms of design— architecture, industrial and graphic design. While process descriptions vary, we adopt these core steps:
Integrative Development (InD©)
At Kiah we have integrated the concepts of design thinking with traditional facilitation and consulting approaches to deal with complex problems. The integration of design thinking adds a powerful and leading-edge technique to break deadlocks, stalemates and intransigence. We term this approach Integrative Development (InD©).
We tailor context-specific approaches relevant to the cultural environment and creative intelligence. We do not seek to do this by ourselves, but to orchestrate our own, in-house and external expertise into multidisciplinary approaches for the delivery of innovative solutions.
If your challenge includes highly structured individuals with engineering backgrounds who tend towards conflict and argument, immediate immersion in an unstructured environment is not likely to be helpful. A controlled approach where issues are raised and recognised with a structured entry into creative workshops is more appropriate.
Conversely a group excited about their future, focused on a common goal and enjoying senior management leadership and participation, would enjoy an immersive environment.
Our first step is to design an approach to best deal with your unique challenge.
Through observation— interviews with participants and stakeholders, site visits, process walk-throughs and documentation review— we gain an understanding of the environment and the problem. We develop and agree an engagement-specific methodology and finalise the participant group.
Our next phase, creation, is generally conducted in a workshop environment. These tend to be
high-energy, high-activity, immersive experiences. Though usually rapid, a day or two at most, several may be necessary for more complex challenges. We aim to encourage conversation, debate and participation — regardless of hierarchy—and map these visually. The process is self-documenting and reduces reliance on command and compliance, encouraging individuals to assume the mantle of control of the future.
Prototyping and testing seeks evidentiary indicators to support choice and efficacy of approach. This engages the analytical approaches of the offered hypothesis as well as debate. Persuasion has more power than the demand for proof during innovation. In seeking answers to wicked problems there is unlikely to be a right answer but compelling options.
The process delivers a plan of coherent action by a persuaded community.
Kiah Consulting primarily provides support in the development of concepts and strategy, project initiation and the recovery of misaligned projects. Our focus is delivery in the public sector.
We work in the zone of ambiguity, providing our expertise to clearly articulate the concepts, define the outcomes and structure delivery. We undertake strategy
development, concept definition, feasibility studies and business case development. We manage effective project execution through strong leadership and direction.
We provide the foundations for successful delivery through the establishment of project teams with appropriate contracts, resources, structure and processes.
With a mix of permanent staff and associates we can assure access to the right skills at the right time. Our model recognises that no one person or company has all the answers or skills, so we make it easy to access what is required.
Independence of contractors and suppliers, independence of internal organisations and politics allows us to offer untainted advice.