Five Steps to Bring Digital Transformation to Human Resources with Design Thinking
The author, Venkat Srinivasan, is Sr. Director, Marketing & Corporate Communications at Extentia.
‘Design Thinking casts HR in a new role. It transforms HR from a “process developer” into an “experience architect.” It empowers HR to reimagine every aspect of work: the physical environment; how people meet and interact; how managers spend their time; and how companies select, train, engage, and evaluate people.’
– Josh Bersin
You’re probably hearing the term ‘digital transformation’ all over the place. Is your business digital-ready? Adopting avant-garde digital technologies is now essential for CEOs and CIOs to solve business problems and to stay ahead of the competition. A digital transformation strategy is the heart and soul of making your business digital-ready. Transforming your business digitally is sometimes difficult as it calls for vast organizational changes. Sometimes your people are reluctant to change, sometimes the solutions don’t fit the requirements, and sometimes you end up adopting the wrong way to change!
Now businesses don’t need to worry about such challenges that hinder the pace in the digital transformation process. Design thinking is a proven solution to make your digital transformation journey smooth.
Read about the importance of digital transformation during times of crisis, like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Design Thinking?
Design thinking is a repetitive and non-linear process that tries to understand users with a human-centered and creative approach. It questions the assumptions and redefines business problems to find innovative solutions to prototype and test. The design thinking process comprises five phases – Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.
You don’t need to follow these phases in a rigid sequence as it's a creative, interactive, flexible, and human-centered problem-solving approach. One that’s friendly to all businesses.
To put it simply, design thinking is problem-solving done RIGHT!
Why is Design Thinking Important for Your Business?
Design thinking is crucial for all businesses that want to offer innovative solutions that matter most to their target audience. Many large businesses such as Apple, Google, Samsung, GE, IBM, MassMutual, Infosys, Salesforce, Coca-Cola, DBS Bank, Bank of America, Fidelity, and Intuit practice design thinking to create user-centric solutions.
How Can Design Thinking Help Revamp Human Resources with Digital Transformation?
Initially, design thinking was primarily associated with product-based companies. However, over the past few years, businesses have started implementing design thinking across various functions including human resources (HR).
If you value your employees, they will value your customers. Very obviously, a happy and satisfied workforce is the key to a business’s success.
Design thinking can change the way HR delivers values. It makes HR teams accountable to accumulate user insights that begin with the question: ‘how might we’. This, considering ‘how’ symbolizes a solution-driven approach, ‘might’ inspires optimism, and ‘we’ means collaboration.
Let’s discuss how design thinking can accelerate digital transformation in human resources:
Empathize: Be empathetic to your employees and understand their problems. Being a human-centered design process, design thinking allows you to understand and know the problems with a judgment-free mind. Set aside all your assumptions to get real insights about your employee problems through typical user research about their needs.
Get a 360-degree view of your workplace from the employees’ perspective.
Try to understand their daily challenges like commuting, working hours flexibility, working relationship, how they coordinate with their colleagues, and more.
Define: After gathering this information, you analyze and synthesize it to define the core problems. It’s more like creating a problem statement for the issues faced by your employees in terms of what, how, when, where, and why.
Ask the right questions to identify the pain points of your employees. For example – a challenge that they face on a daily basis, how they have tried to resolve it, what motivates them, or any other hurdles.
Ideate: In this phase, you brainstorm and think of alternative ways to analyze the problem and identify creative solutions for your workforce.
Work collectively towards finding ways to solve the problems of your employees.
Select the most viable and feasible solution in your organization’s context.
Prototype: This is an exploratory phase that aims at finding the best possible solution for the identified problems. In this phase, you will produce some inexpensive solutions to ease the pain points of your employees based on your investigation.
Create some storyboards based on given scenarios.
Use mock trials and get all experimental scenarios together.
Test: Here you can test prototypes among your employees. Sometimes, repetitive prototyping and testing is required to find the most accurate solution per their needs.
Test the prototype in smaller groups to assess its effectiveness.
Collect feedback to understand if the adopted solution needs further improvements.
Refine the solutions as needed, and apply them to your organization at large.
Is Design Thinking the Future Driving Force for HR?
Apart from thought-out digital transformation, design thinking can bring in the Agile methodology to the HR spectrum. In the traditional Waterfall system, projects are accomplished via various stages and hierarchy is important there. The project cannot move to the next stage until it gets approved at the current level. By the time the project is launched, the customer demands change, so does the market requirement due to the long project development lifecycle.
Design thinking plays a game-changing role by bringing customer touchpoints throughout the project development cycle through agile methodology. Especially in HR, it focuses on knowing the pain points of your current and future workforce with empathy and a human-centered approach. Hence, it helps in accomplishing any project by constantly prototyping and testing the solutions related to the needs of your users.
At XEN LAB, our experience design center – we’ve helped many of our customers enable digital transformation through design thinking. Do reach out to us to explore possibilities.