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Before: Thoughts upon beginning my Design Thinking journey

When we begin any change process, it’s helpful to take inventory of where we are starting, so that we can later reflect upon how much change occurs and measure the value of the journey.  Looking to get fit?  We measure body composition, take a “before” photo, and take note of how much exercise we can endure (usually “not very much”).  Looking to improve our financial situation?  We make note of our spending habits, income sources, and account balances.  This is our “before” snapshot to compare against our situation after making adjustments over time.  Down the road, it’s insanely gratifying to look back at the progress we’ve made.  

I’m about to take on a change.  I’m new to the Mindset family.  Over the next several months, I will be spending time on a series of efforts to get hands-on, practical experience in Design Thinking, to position myself to effectively leverage this process to drive world-class solutions for our Mindset customers.

So, here’s my “before” picture:

Design thinking: What do I know now?

I had my first (and only) hands-on experience with Design Thinking back around 2015 at the SAP HQ in Palo Alto, CA.  Apart from the stunning buildings and scenery, some of what I recall from that experience include:

  • The focus on breaking down processes to identify the pain points helped get everybody on the same page of why we were spending this time together
  • Outside-the-box thinking on a variety of potential solutions brought out some really interesting ideas
  • Sketching and designing preliminary prototypes was a very useful way to get quick feedback on our early ideas 

Since that original experience, most of my understanding comes from sources I’ve read.  I’ve certainly learned alot from Mindset’s blogs.  I’ve listed a few helpful ones below.  Honestly, though, there are many other valuable blogs and resources.  I suggest you visit the Mindset Consulting website and pop Design Thinking into the search function in the left nav. You will find a wealth of helpful guidance and information already published.

My Introductory Experience to Design Thinking

How Mindset uses SAP Technology, Design Thinking, & SAP Best Practices to Solve Business Challenges with Case Study

Why Design Thinking

The Design Thinking Primer: Simple Rules to build Better Experiences

Keys to Ensure Your Design Thinking Will be a Success

I know that Design Thinking has a cornerstone value of empathy, much like the Agile and DevOps practices with which I’ve already had years of experience.  These concepts are all pretty closely aligned in understanding the perspectives and needs of the stakeholders and recipients of your product, process or service and making concentrated choices to deliver value for them.  

I know that Design Thinking is a growing practice across many industries.  I see countless articles on the topic and have heard of several organizations either actively applying the practice or strongly considering opportunities to do so.

Mostly, I know that there’s a lot I don’t know (yet).  But, I also know that Mindset has market leading talent and experience in this domain!  And I know that this is a capability that brings great value to our customers and leads to world-class solutions.  I’m eager to learn from these experts, see how they’ve applied their craft, and to add these skills to my toolbox so that I can bring similar value to our customers.

What do I expect?

I expect to learn a lot more about how to execute and/or lead specific elements of the practice.

I expect to learn about the “why” behind the “what”.  What are the outcomes we’re looking to drive with each part of the practice?

I expect to learn lessons encountered in the field during practice that drives Design Thinking leaders to conduct their sessions as they do now.

I expect this learning phase to be hard work, but exceptionally rewarding. The most worthwhile things generally require this, and it’s work I look forward to the undertaking.  (By the way…did you know that Passion & Grit are one of the Mindset Consulting core values?  You will find this imprinted all over our company!)

Essentially, I expect great benefits from this transformation, just as we do when we dedicate ourselves to a fitness program, a new financial discipline, or any other disciplined change effort. 

Finally, I expect this next phase to be just the start of a continuing journey of learning and growth with Design Thinking, as there will always be room to continuously improve through practice and experience, all in the name of bringing greater value to the Mindset customer community.


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Robb Neuenschwander is a seasoned technology leader with a proven record of driving innovation, strategy and business value. In his role as Principal Architect, Robb partners with Mindset's strategic clients to drive large-scale digital transformation efforts, at the intersection of business and technology strategy. He has a passion for building architectures that scale and enable strategic value and growth, leveraging leading innovation and technology solutions. He is also passionate about Mindset's core values and building capabilities and maturity in a rapidly growing organization.

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