Design Thinking, Applied

The Stanford method applied to digital innovation.


Ian H Smith

For Salesforce app implementations and integrations, I believe that Design Thinking is the right method for app innovation and Deliverables, Not Hours is the right outcome.

Design Thinking means, as the name implies: thinking (and acting) like a designer. It is all about solving problems in a people-oriented way. The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and Stanford University (the enabled Design Thinking as a 5-step method for innovation: 'Empathize; Define; Ideate; Prototype; and, Test'.  

Here, with Salesforce in mind, we will talk about how Design Thinking can help to overcome the fears associated with moving from a hierachy of employees to our network that blends a broader, more flexible set of skills and competencies from our onshore, nearshore and offshore network.

In the world of Salesforce Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Health Cloud and Lightning Platform Apps, there is a shortage of talent in UK, USA and elsewhere, which has pushed-up onshore salaries and fees for Salesforce Administrators, Analysts, Architects and Developers, especially in UK and USA.

So, our blend of onshore, nearshore and offshore talent means competitive underlying costs, further enhanced by our shared risk approach of Deliverables Not Hours and fixed-price, fixed-time contracts.

For successful Salesforce implementations, I always start by focusing on maximising receptivity, rapport and trust between our customer's stakeholders and our team. This starts with the first step in Design Thinking: Empathize.

Empathy Mapping Is Key

It is important to understand that the Empathize step in Design Thinking, done right, leads to a more meaningful Define step that follows. When moving to the next three steps of Ideate, Prototype and Test, it is important to think of these activities as being equally applicable to any Salesforce implementation or integration.

Even if the breakthrough is simply a 30-minute online meeting with stakeholders, this is where Design Thinking works well. 'Empathy Mapping' is the technique used to achieve initial receptivity and rapport with all stakeholders, which in turn, leads to trust. This is the categorisation of each problem to be solved by Salesforce technology as 'Say, Think, Do, or Feel".

Empathy Mapping also means discussing and writing down the 'Needs' and Insights', as they relate to all Users. Crucially, this is where the power of the outsider can bring a broader set of experiences to bear. This ensures that all stakeholders are actively engaged in the process. With Salesforce implementations, this often lacks suffient sales and marketing input.

Step One. Empathize

Empathy Mapping workshops are a great way to engage many buyside decision-makers and influencers as Stakeholders in the process. Online, these workshops are often more representative of all Stakeholders, if conducted as more short sessions of say, half-to-one hour.

Step Two. Define

Having established rapport, receptivity and trust in the first step of Empathize, you can now pay great attention to all stakeholders openly exploring and validating a clear set of Requirements for a particular Salesforce implementation or integration at the second step of Design Thinking - Define.

Step Three. Iterate

Ideation can be, as the name of this third step implies, a very effective way to facilitate idea generation - well ahead of completeness of final Requirements for the Salesforce implementation or integration. What is especially important here is to include a broad set of Users as stakeholders.

Step Four. Prototype

At this fourth step, Prototyping should embrace a 'fail fast' mindset. It must enable the Salesforce implementation to undergo rapid, iterative change - driven by the broadest range of Users as stakeholders on the buyside and an optimum blend of business and tech experts on the supplyside.

Step Five. Test

The fifth step of Testing - as with all other steps of Design Thinking - can form part of what becomes a rapid, iterative and looped approach to Salesforce implementations and integrations. This may be a 'Proof-of-Concept' or a full 'Production Instance'. Either way, Testing early and often is key. 





















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